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White Sox notes from the Bill James Handbook 2016

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Robin Ventura rode his starters, Jose Quintana rode his curveball, and other specific stats from the 2015 season

Looks like we're going to need a bigger shelf.
Looks like we're going to need a bigger shelf.

It's an annual midwinter tradition around these parts to pick up the latest edition of The Bill James Handbook and share some of the more interesting esoteric White Sox nuggets in a book full of them. As the picture of my shelf above shows, it's always a worthwhile purchase.

Pitching

*Jose Quintana threw the fourth-lowest percentage of his pitches on the edges of the strike zone (37.2 percent), but Clayton Kershaw is five spots above him at 38.1 percent, so it doesn't seem to be a determining factor for success. Yordano Ventura is the lowest at 36.5 percent; Jesse Chavez the highest at 45.4 percent.

*Quintana led all starters in curveball frequency (30.9 percent), although A.J. Burnett posed a challenge (29.3 percent).

*David Robertson had the worst "regular save" percentage of any closer with at least 10 attempts (11-for-16). A "regular save" is your garden-variety one-run lead.

*Robin Ventura continues to be an anomaly with long leashes. He led all managers with 66 slow hooks (games with a lot of pitches and some damage) and 43 long outings. He also used the fewest relievers of any manager with 414. The league averages: 41, 15 and 488.

Offense

*Tyler Saladino had the fourth-fastest time to second on stolen base attempts (3.51 seconds), trailing only known speedsters Rico Noel, Billy Hamilton and Jarrod Dyson.

*Adam Eaton was the Sox' most productive baserunner, ending up with a net gain of 22 bases, which is a major improvement over his 2014 total of nine.

*In the other direction, Avisail Garcia and Alexei Ramirez were tied with a net loss of 15 bases apiece, and Melky Cabrera was one behind. The White Sox tied the Angels with the most outs made attempting to advance.

*Ventura used an above-average amount of pinch-hitters with 118. In his first three years, he averaged just 78.

*Jose Abreu finished fifth in the AL in RBI percentage, cashing in on 41.6 percent of his RBI opportunities.

Defense

*After making big jumps in shifting in each of the last two years, the White Sox went the other direction. They had the biggest drop-offs in shifts of any American League team with 145 fewer shifts in 2015. Only the Mariners (-60) and (Royals (-5) shifted less than they did in 2014.

*According to Defensive Runs Saved, Tyler Flowers was the best catcher in the American League (14), thanks to a league-best 16 runs saved framing.

*Saladino could've joined Flowers if he had more playing time. He saved 12 runs over just 478 innings at third base, while league leaders Nolan Arenado and Adrian Beltre saved 18 runs while playing at least 1,200 innings apiece.

*A surprising source of defensive woes: The Sox had the AL's second-worst group of defensive pitchers, and Jeff Samardzija was a big reason why (4 runs below average). Samardzija also gave up the most runs, hits and home runs, but you didn't need the Handbook to tell you that.