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White Sox notes from the Bill James Handbook 2017

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Robin Ventura never changed, except for the amount of shifting

I got that bigger shelf I needed last year.

For as long as I’ve been blogging, I’ve been buying The Bill James Handbook and relaying some of the pertinent information from the latest edition. Why should the 11th year be any different?

Pitching

*Dan Jennings surprised everybody with a 2.08 ERA this season, but he led the league by allowing 21 inherited runners to score (out of 50). Guess who was second? Matt Albers, who allowed 20 of 43 inherited runners to score. Because rules tend to be uniform, other pitchers’ runners are not reflected in his 6.31 ERA, which is incredible.

*The White Sox were one of three teams to use three different relievers 20 times on consecutive days (Jennings, David Robertson, Nate Jones). They would’ve been the only one with four had they not traded Zach Duke, who had 17 appearances on zero days’ rest with the Sox and tacked on nine with the Cardinals.

*Robin Ventura led the league by using relievers on consecutive days 128 times, and nobody in the American League was close. He also led the league in slow hooks for the fourth consecutive year and long outings for a second.

*Chris Sale finished with the sixth-lowest OPS allowed on changeups (.555), which makes it odd that he didn’t throw it more.

Offense

*Jose Abreu hit 556 foul balls, second to only Brandon Belt (580) and well above the totals from his first two years (480 and 460).

*Brett Lawrie finished as the White Sox’ best baserunner with 12 bases gained, 11 of them baserunning (as opposed to stealing). The team as a whole finished -28, the sixth-worst total in baseball.

*Avisail Garcia finished with the fourth-highest average with runners in scoring position. He also finished with the slowest time to second base on stolen-base attempts (3.90), tied with Alexei Ramirez.

*Todd Frazier’s problems with RISP were well-documented (.169/.282/.303), but they’re not new. He led the league with 123 unproductive outs last season. This time, he finished with “only” 74, perhaps because he had 52 fewer opportunities with men on base.

*Alex Avila’s walks were the least valuable in the league, resulting in only .231 runs per walk.

Defense

*The White Sox resumed shifting after a strange drop-off last season that might have contributed to the firing of Mark Parent. They doubled the amount of shifting (389 to 781), resulting in a surge in runs saved due to shifting (five to 17).

*In terms of total shifting, the Sox are still below average, which is 1,015 in the American League and 857 in the NL.

*Adam Eaton finished second in the Fielding Bible Award voting to Mookie Betts. Eaton’s lone first-place vote came from Dave Cameron.

*Even with Eaton, the Sox were still below-average as a team in terms of Defensive Runs Saved. Eaton saved 25 runs in right, but those gains were erased in center field (-22) and left (-7). Shortstop (3) and pitcher (2) were the only other positions on the diamond that ended up in the plus column.

*Thanks in part to divided time, the White Sox largely avoided the butcher leaderboards. The exceptions: Dioner Navarro (-14 DRS) and Carlos Rodon (-6).