All right, this is a quick n’ dirty look at — spoiler alert — how bad the Chicago White Sox were this season.
On the hitting side, the team was actually in the black, with a surplus value (SV) of $9,534,717. But the pitchers, yeesh, were they ugly: -$31,215,283 SV. Yep, that’s negative value ... bigtime.
Combined, the team sported a negative SV, of -$21,680,566.
Now, that sounds horrible, and let’s not leave any doubt it’s a terrible return on investment (as it were). However, the way I rejiggered the $/WAR numbers (note at the end) works it so the average MLB team holds a SV of -$13,625,000. So truthfully, the White Sox were merely $8,055,566 SV worse than average. Not great, but also probably not the worst in baseball.
How? Well, cutting very roughly here, the White Sox had the third-worst record in baseball, but the second-lowest payroll. So there are less efficient examples out there. I’d submit that exhibit No. 1 should be the San Francisco Giants, whose payroll was second in the league at almost $206 million dollars, finishing tied for the ninth-worst record in the game (73-89).
So ... take heart? It could be worse.
Let’s briefly expand beyond SV and take a look at how poorly the White Sox fared compared with preseason prognostications.
Remember when it seemed funny that the White Sox could be pegged for as few as 68 wins? Yeah, me neither. But it happened, just eight months ago. Personally, in spite of my “shock” mere weeks before, when it came time to lay out a season prediction on Episode 0 of the South Side Sox Podcast, I fell right in line with Vegas, at 68 wins.
The White Sox managed to evade the expectations of even the most dour of prognosticators out there, including our Pecota pals, as Baseball Prospectus pegged the Pale Hose with a 71-91 record. Others of note:
- Bleacher Report: 73-89
- USA Today: 73-89
- 538: 70-92
- Bovada (Las Vegas): 68-94
I can’t find FanGraphs’ preseason prediction, although per playoff odds it appears they tabbed the White Sox for last place, presumably in the neighborhood of 100 losses.
But, officially per five different outlets, the closest prediction was still eight losses sunnier than reality. The average prediction was 71-91.
Rick Hahn et al. can spread seeds of disenchantment every spring training from here on, but if his idea of tempering hopes involves falling an average of 11 wins short of realistic expectations, sign me up elsewhere.
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).