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Super Stats Pack: Hitters (Final 2018)

Omar Narváez edges out José Abreu as the most valuable position player on the 2018 White Sox

Chicago White Sox v New York Yankees
Impressive Run: Narváez made significant offensive gains in 2018, nearly lapping many teammates who mostly stood still.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

So, it took a little longer than planned, but here’s the final leaderboard for White Sox position players in 2018.

We published about a month ago, and faithful freelance editor Trooper Galactus caught some errors, like transposing Yoán Moncada’s on-base percentage with Yolmer Sánchez’s. So, I went back through the numbers (all FanGraphs) and saw there were no other errors at all ... except for the fact that I failed to update the bottom three rows, way at the bottom of the page (WPA, WPA/LI, CLUTCH). Heh.

In the long run, none of those non-updated numbers switched things up significantly, but I’m sure it did make ol’ TG scratch his head a bit. Sorry, all.

So, using a generous qualifier (one plate appearance per game as a minimum requirement for non-cumulative stats), there are 13 players on the White Sox with at least 162 PAs. Take a look, and try not to cringe over the fact that Adam Engel was sent to the plate 463 times last year, more than all but five other White Sox:

It’s a motley crew, you might say.

This final check-in covers takes the team from mid-September to the end of the season. And in that time, you’d think that not much changed. But, at the least, Tim Anderson and Matt Davidson found time to face-plant their way to the finish line. Conversely, Moncada upped his mostly-disappointing stats — adding 0.5 fWAR to his tally over just two weeks.

With the end of the season, I decided to do a quick n’ dirty tally of the 13 White Sox, to see how they measured up per each of the 18 stat categories ranked here. Thirteen points for finishing first in a category, one point for finishing last, and so on. Nothing scientific at all, because there is some sort of duplication among all the categories ...

But hey, it’ll be fun. So to kick off ...

The final updates didn’t cross things up too much from our original “Most Valuable Hitter” list, although Leury did drop a spot and that Anderson-Avi-Leury pileup at the bottom of the rankings tightened up further. And just a wee bit more space was opened up between Player No. 1 and 2 on the list, so it’s time to again congratulate ...

Omar Narváez, who seriously bolstered his offense in a season where most everyone else shrunk — if they bothered to show up at all. From also-ran semi-regular, to most valuable offensive player. Not bad.

The regulars break down pretty well into four groups, the top tier being Narváez, José Abreu and Daniel Palka.

A few other observations:

  • Moncada is significantly better than Anderson on these cumulative lists.
  • Leury basically matched Avisaíl
  • This is yet another way the hideously bad season from Engel stood out. Engel was not only the worst of the regulars, but barely in the “tier four” class picture with fellow underachiever Nicky Delmonico.

OK, so on to the regular categories.

Batting Average: The White Sox didn’t have a single .300 hitter. They had one hitter better than .275, just five better than .250.

BABIP: Is it sadder that Engel’s .235 average has been buoyed by a .323 BABIP, or that Delmonico couldn’t even hit .270 on balls in play?

On-Base: Again, it’s sort of extraordinary that the White Sox had an OBP high of .361, just two batters better than .350, and three better than .325. Six White Sox failed to cross even a .300 threshold in OBP.

Weighted OBA: Omar sort of out-Abreued José Abreu this season, which says something about Narváez’s growth, and probably a good deal more about Abreu’s disappointing season.

Slugging: Just two batters, Palka and Abreu, had a slugging percentage better than .460. Count me surprised that Moncada couldn’t even slug .400.

OPS: Not a single player reached the minimally decent standard of .800, and only Abreu was even close.

ISO: Just three White Sox showed any power whatsoever, and only Palka with an impressive ISO. It’s worth repeating, Davidson started his season with three home runs in Kansas City on Opening Day; it really seemed we might be in for a Palkaesque season from him. Instead, he’s been eclipsed and sort of rendered obsolete by Palka — unless, perhaps, Davidson starts sitting in the bullpen.

HR: Palka’s “flurry” of three homers in the last couple of weeks of the season created some actual distance between him and the rest of the list. And still, there’s that funny gap between sixth-place Moncada with 17, and Narváez in seventh, with nine. Only six players — on a major league team — with double-figure homers! Can’t even blame a midseason trade, like we can with the saves leaderboard. My, my.

wRC+: A bit of a bump here, with a whole five players clocking in at above average, thanks to Kevan Smith. Once again, Engel trailing the pack at 68 is horrifying enough, but look at the gap between him and Delmonico. It was an epically bad offensive season for Engel.

WAR: There were literally only 15 guys who would qualified as better than a replacement player on the White Sox this season, all but five clocking in at .8 or fewer (negligible) WAR. Of those eight, two were organizational filler guys who weren’t even in Glendale, two were guys that spent much or all of the season in Charlotte, and one was a guy we traded to Milwaukee in May.

BB%: Anderson is a guy whose overall season, and particularly season’s end, is really concerning. We can flail our arms over Moncada’s high K rate, but at least Yoán walks better than 10% of the time. Timmay’s 5% walk rate is very rough, at least without an Ozzie Guillén-like strikeout rate.

K%: Can you believe that in spite of Moncada’s run at the all-time strikeout record, Palka surpassed him in K rate by season’s end? Call me crazy, this one sort of snuck up on me, lost in all the romance of Palka’s power and clutch ninth inning ABs.

BsR: Five White Sox baserunners were considered above average, and just three are measurably so. As he did in so many areas late in the season, Moncada had a nice run of improvement here to finish 2018 at a nice (and appropriate) number.

OFF: Again, five White Sox were above average, four measurably so. There are three players at -10 or worse, led by Engel at -17.5. Engel’s performance is virtually impossible. No player hitting this badly gets to play a full season. He could have made a home run steal per game on defense and probably not been an overall plus player.

DEF: Even Anderson’s defensive value, solid all season, eroded in September. Sánchez, of all players, distinguished himself as perhaps the only defender of merit on the team.

WPA: Palka is truly heads above the pack here, with only Abreu worthy of being in the picture. The low figure for Anderson here (and across all three of the bottom productivity numbers) is damning.

Situational Wins: Palka gets dinged here for all his Ks, so it’s no surprise that Abreu and Narváez sneak past him.

CLUTCH: Impressive that Moncada, for all his woes, truly did come through when the chips were down. Maybe that’s a function of the White Sox being out of a lot of games and not facing the usual amount of high leverage. But, like a lot of the rankings here, there’s some good stuff for Moncada to grow on.

Next year is going to be better, right? Right? Uh, guys ... ?

COMING SOON (this week, tomorrow, whatever ... eventually): pitching, team stats, minors leaderboards. Hopefully sans errors. (But keep an eye out for me, Trooper!)

If you would like these stats defined, check FanGraphs for either offensive or pitching terms.