Even in a more relaxed qualifying atmosphere than actual league leaderboards (in our case, a pitcher facing one batter per game), 12 Chicago White Sox pitchers qualify for our non-counting stat leaderboards.
I don’t know what to tell you, aside from the fact that the White Sox are bad. Matters aren’t helped when you consider three of the team’s stronger relievers, Joakim Soria, Luis Avilán and Xavier Cedeño, are no longer with the team. Or that promising starter Michael Kopech will be sitting for the next 18 months.
But hey, within a dark cloud of statistical irrelevance, there are some bright spots. Let’s try to find them.
ERA: You look at this and think, man, Carlos Rodón is aces, but let yer eyes trace eastward to see that FIP reveals cracks. In the first of several spots on these boards, let’s cite Juan Minaya for putting together a sneaky-effective season. He’s shaved a half a run from his ERA since the last report.
FIP: Presume league-average defense behind him, and Jace Fry leaps up the leaders list. If the offensive side consistently boasted four “above average” hitters for the White Sox this season, Fry is certainly at the top of the list for effectiveness on the pitching side. Again, Minaya makes a nice move up here, too.
xFIP: Estimate home runs allowed instead of actual HRs, and Fry slips past even Soria among pitchers. Also note that Reynaldo López’s tumble down the lists left to right may be an indication of his luck this season — but then, with a smile like his, who can blame him for a little luck?
SIERA: A stat that tries to dig even more into the hows and whys of pitcher effectiveness (valuing the strikeout, for one) still reveals Fry as Chicago’s star pitcher. Chris Volstad is revealed here and with xFIP to perhaps have been the wrong pitcher at the wrong time, as the traditional stats made him out to be worse than he was. Well, the White Sox’s loss is craft beer’s gain.
WAR: The WAR side for pitchers is even uglier than it is for White Sox hitters, who at least can boast Tim Anderson as “solid” this season. López will have to finish very strong to catch a whiff of a two-win season, while every other starter is a flaming pie. I mean, two of the top three, and three of the top five WAR pitchers are relievers. That’s despicable.
WPA: Introduce win probability — the importance of the outs White Sox pitchers are getting — and you see where relative also-rans like López or Rodón have added big value. Hector Santiago is a name you might not have expected to see on the plus-side of WPA.
CLUTCH: Rewarding only clutch play, we see Rodón’s value tumble, but López’s and Santiago’s soar. They, along with the token contribution of Bruce Rondón, are the only pitchers on staff to excel under pressure this season.
Situational Wins: Rodón’s high showing here again tells us he’s been solid, “winning” the most at-bats on staff. Look how exponentially bad Lucas Giolito is here.
Pitch Values: Another place where Fry is rocking. Now, I’ve only included PA “qualifiers” for the list, and I didn’t bother to see whether, say, Fry has thrown only six sliders all year or Soria tossed a dozen fastballs, so, pinch of salt here. But Fry is all over the list, speaking to his phenomenal stuff.
BB%: Volstad was locked in — maybe too much. James Shields is too busy pitching to contact — sometimes rather effectively — to mess with walks.
K%: Fry rules here. What new. The usual suspects on staff (or, formerly on staff) top both the walk and strikeout rate boards.
WHIP: Rodón’s being stingier with hits than walks? Seems so, with that low WHIP.
GB%: We don’t want balls in the air from our pitchers, so guys like Dylan Covey and Giolito are doing well there. López is playing with fire, at 33.1%.
Soft%: Flip side, López just doesn’t let batters get a handle on his stuff. Sure the K rate is pedestrian, but weak contact is about the best outcome to hope for beyond a whiff. Minaya and Covey are interesting names high up here, too.
LOB%: Not sure this is as resonant a stat for starters, who never inherit runners, but Santiago impresses here — and his high LOB% speaks to his high “clutch” numbers as well.
SD: FanGraphs improvement on the save rewards just who you think it would: Fry. Again, Minaya not really getting too many save situations but pocketing 11 shutdowns ain’t bad.
MD: What is bad is Minaya also having 11 meltdowns, a team high. Sigh.
GS: The chart lists every starter for the White Sox this season, and obviously Volstad’s one-off was an outlier. I can’t get a good read on what an “average” game score is for 2018, but it’s safe to say that at least Giolito’s 45 should be considered average. Nice to see López pushing past 50, and Rodón maintaining the high 50s.
So there you have it, friends. It may not have been clear last time, so let me apply sarcasm font when I say, boy howdy, I can’t wait to do the year-end stats roundup!