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Value Survey: Pitchers

Near the top of the leaderboard all season long, Reynaldo López was easily the best pitching value on the 2018 White Sox

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago White Sox
Cowboy Up: The only possible option for SV champion on the 2018 White Sox pitching staff is Reynaldo López.
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Ballantini started at South Side Sox in 2018 after 20 years of writing on basketball, baseball and hockey, including time on the Blackhawks and White Sox beats. Follow him on Twitter @BrettBallantini and email your site feedback to

Now, listen, I said this was going to be ugly. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

OK, so, the good news: Eight White Sox pitchers did record positive surplus values (SV).

The bad news: Eight White Sox pitchers — out of 29 who pitched for the team in 2018 — recorded positive SV.

On to the bullet points, as it were:

  • Reynaldo López, at least by SV measures, isn’t just the best Most Valuable Pitcher candidate on the team — he’s the only true Most Valuable Pitcher candidate on the team. Jace Fry and Xavier Cedeño made admirable runs at it out of the bullpen, but the only choice here is López. And imagine how much more impressive everything would look for López if WARP didn’t somehow value him as below replacement level (-0.6 WARP).
  • Just one pitcher on the staff, López, recorded an average WAR of better than 0.9.
  • López wasn’t the only positive SV pitcher with a wild discrepancy among WAR values, with FanGraphs rescuing Dylan Covey (1.1) vs. Baseball-Reference (-0.2) and Baseball Prospectus (0.0).
  • Just four pitchers on the 2018 Chicago White Sox had a SV of more than $1 million.
  • Two of the eight positive SV White Sox pitchers (Caleb Frare and José Ruiz) had little overall impact on the team.


OK, notes on the negative values (searching for positives, positives, positives) ...

  • Eight of the 21 (oh lord) pitchers with negative SVs had somewhat negligible (less than $1 million) values.
  • Similarly, three (Ian Hamilton, Rob Scahill, Michael Kopech) were late-season call-ups who had minimal impact on the team.
  • Several of these negative SVs (Joakim Soria, Nate Jones, Carlos Rodón, James Shields) were more a result of high salary level than negative WAR. Although, duh, that’s the point of this survey, and a pitcher who can’t pitch over his high salary still ends up in the scrap pile.
  • Just four pitchers (Jeanmar Gómez, Luís Avilán, Soria and Jones) had positive WAR values in the eyes of all three WARs.
  • Notable discrepancies include Rodón (2.0 bWAR down to -1.8 WARP), Bruce Rondón (0.2 fWAR down to -1.3 bWAR), Hector Santiago (0.5 bWAR to -2.1 WARP), Lucas Giolito (-0.2 fWAR to -2.9 WARP) and James Shields (1.4 bWAR to -0.4 WARP).
  • WARP positively hates our trio of young starters: López (-0.6), Rodón (-1.8), Giolito (-2.9).

Um, so, it can’t be worse next year? Or, probably won’t be?


Note: The Value Survey has switched to three-WAR (FanGraphs fWAR, Baseball-Reference bWAR, Baseball Prospectus WARP) averaging and a cut in WAR dollar value of more than half (to $3,785,979.18).