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Running away from last season

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Rick Hahn made the moves to improve the Sox offense and score more runs, but is it enough?

David Banks

Late last season, White Sox GM Rick Hahn stated very simply that the Sox' primary problem was runs -- they didn't score enough and their defense gave up too many.  Not necessarily rocket science, but it was refreshing to hear a White Sox GM get to the heart of sabermetrics as the source of the team's problems.

So, I thought I'd take a look at how the White Sox are doing in Runs Created to see if the moves Rick Hahn has made so far have made a difference in terms of creating more runs.  I'm sure many of you are familiar with the wRC and RC+ statistics that Fangraphs calculates.  RC is a more basic statistic that does very job of modeling the runs a team should be expected to score in a season, and is a significantly easier statistic to calculate.  The formula for RC is:

RC = ( H+BB )*TB AB+BB

So, here's the top five for the Sox in RC last season and the team total.

2013 RC Leaders
Name RC
Alejandro De Aza 78.63
Alexei Ramirez 75.56
Adam Dunn 73.73
Alex Rios 59.16
Dayan Viciedo 57.01
Team total 632.54

In case you were wondering, the top five here includes the same players in the top five in wRC on Fangraphs, but Alexei and Dunn are swapped.  There is one problem though.  RC expected the Sox for score about 633 runs last season.  They actually scored 598 runs.

This season though is looking a lot beter.  Here's where the Sox were at before Friday's game.

Name RC

162 Game RC

Jose Abreu 68.45 115.52
Conor Gillaspie 47.32 79.85
Alexei Ramirez 45.86 77.40
Adam Dunn 41.46 69.96
Dayan Viciedo 39.92 67.36
Adam Eaton 36.67 61.88
Gordon Beckham 30.32 51.16
Alejandro De Aza 28.81 48.61
Tyler Flowers 20.99 35.42
Team Totals 408.19 688.81

The "162 Game RC" column is simply scaling all the values to what they'd look like for a 162 game season.  It isn't a perfect projection, so someone who missed time, like Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton, are penalized a bit.

The first thing you probably noticed is Jose Abreu. Right now, he's about 10 runs behind what Alejandro De Aza had last season and is on a pace for over a 115 RC. That would be the best for a White Sox player since Paul Konerko's 2010 season.  The other addition to this season's top five is Connor Gillaspie. He's also on a pace to a higher RC than De Aza last year.

RC is also doing a better job predicting the Sox runs this season. The Sox have scored 411 runs so far, and RC has predicted about 408. They are also on a pace then for 689 runs this season which is 91 more than last season.

As Rick Hahn has talked about many times, the Sox were concerned with their ability to score runs after last season. They do seem to be on the right path, but there is a downside to this though. Adam Dunn's contract is up after this season and could be traded away before the end. Ramirez and Viciedo are also showing up in rumors.  Along with those three, De Aza, Beckham, and Flowers are all arbitration-eligible.

Analysis like this really helps to clarify things for me. Just to match this season, the Sox are going to need to add a lot of production. They'll need to add even more to realistically compete. I hope that Avisail Garcia can replace Dunn's production, but Dunn's probably not going to be the only player of the six mentioned above that won't be with the Sox. Maybe Matt Davidson would be able to take over third. Maybe Marcus Semien or Micah Johnson can stake a claim on one of the middle infield spots or left field.  Maybe Rick Hahn can grab another major league-ready position player out of a trade. Time is getting short this season, but hopefully some moves can be made to get the Sox started on evaluating for next season and beyond.