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2021 South Side Sox Final Value Survey

Carlos Rodón takes the surplus value title for the team, but there were fierce battles on both the pitching and hitting sides.

Think $16.6 million in 2021 surplus value alone could have helped cover Carlos Rodón’s QO for 2022? Apparently, the White Sox didn’t think so.
| Ron Vesely/Getty Images

When we last left off with the Value Survey, it was the two-thirds point of the season, before the trade deadline, so this report that brings the whole season home represents a pretty big chunk of 2021.

Still, the top of the charts hardly changed. Carlos Rodón, on the strength of both a nothing salary and extraordinary first-half pitching, parlayed a huge value lead into an overall surplus value (SV) win. But he was heavily pursued by two of his rotation mates. And over on the hitting side, there was a change at the top between the two top SV players all season.

Amazingly, had the season lasted even a couple of weeks longer, it’s clear that we would have had new leaders atop the SV board — including Luis Robert, who took less than half of a season of action and turned himself into almost an eight-figure SV player.

Overall, the White Sox had 23 players providing positive SV, down from a peak of 24 for the last survey. Twenty-five players were in the red for the team this season (11 of the 25 had a negative SV of less than $1 million, however), including two of the three stars the White Sox acquired at the trade deadline.

[Based on a league payroll of $3,959,553,990, 1.0 WAR is valued at $3,959,553.99. By subtracting salary paid from each player’s WAR value in dollars, we can generate SV. FanGraphs uses player values that are based on open-market, free-agency WAR value, which is more than double our “real-life” SV. While FG’s measure suits a need to measure open-market value for free agents, our lower number is grounded in the real world of baseball.]

So, among hitters, Tim Anderson leapfrogged Yoán Moncada to win the top SV, by just about 700 grand. But look at La Pantera, storming furiously for the win and falling just less than $1 million short.

  • Robert provided nearly $13.5 million in overall value in 68 games. His solid value from 2020 (recall one month as an MVP candidate, the other as a failed prospect) was doubled in essentially the same number of games. An absolutely amazing, and promising, season from the center fielder.
  • As recently as the last survey, Andrew Vaughn was the fourth-best value on the club and was on pace to move into third. He hit the ground, hard, in the last third of the season, providing no different a raw value than Luis González or Billy Hamilton. Both Jake Burger and Gavin Sheets, in admittedly smaller samples, provided better value than Vaughn.
  • The White Sox were having a real stroke of luck with their position players, and by season’s end the offense still provided almost $19 million in surplus value, but several players beyond high-salaried José Abreu and Yasmani Grandal just killed the offense’s value growth. Zack Collins was paid nothing but killed value with a terrible -0.6 aWAR season. César Hernández, as well all know, was awful in just two months (more than $3 million in negative SV). And even Eloy Jiménez, who unlike Robert never got rolling after his serious injury early, was a $2.5 million debit to the team.
  • Nick Madrigal, despite being out at midseason and traded away at the deadline, still managed to be the fifth-best hitting value on the club.
  • For both Moncada and Anderson to continue providing positive value, even as their yearly salaries move upward, is also very impressive. TERRIFIC gambles on the part of White Sox management in extending them.
  • Leury Legend parlayed his strong second half into the fourth-best hitting value on the club, paying off more than the first year of his three-year deal off with his SV in 2021.
  • Look at Dylan Cease and Lucas Giolito, coming after Rodón for the pitching and overall SV title! Those three starters finished the 2021 season 1-2-3 atop the SV charts for the club. What a rotation value! The top four starters (including Lance Lynn) gave the White Sox almost $53 million SV. Even including Dallas Keuchel, who providing more than twice as bad an SV as the next-worst player (and at that, the released Adam Eaton), the White Sox rotation provided $36 million in SV for the year. (And next year’s new starter, Michael Kopech, provided $5.3 million SV in his hybrid role in 2021.)
  • Dylan Cease’s 0.2 hitting WAR, fueled by a 3-for-3 performance in Cincinnati, still places equal to or ahead of 10 hitters who played at least a game on the active roster this season.
  • As much as the bullpen was lambasted last season, its performance measured against experience/salary is quite good. The Nos. 5-11 spots on the pitching value list were all occupied by key relievers this season. No full-season reliever stood out as a bad value — after all, Craig Kimbrel could only do SV damage for two months.

White Sox vs. average team breakdown

To offer perspective on how the White Sox are doing relative to the league, we compare Chicago to a generic “average” MLB team (average payroll, average WAR production). The White Sox are doing a little better than than that club when it comes to overall value this season:

The average MLB team had 30.9 WAR, which is $122,350,218 in value. Subtracting average team salary of $131,985,133, average team SV is -$9,634,915.

The White Sox had 51.1 WAR, which is $202,135,231 in value. Subtracting White Sox salary of $141,166,019, White Sox SV is $60,969,213.

So, the White Sox were 20.2 WAR better than an average team, which is $79,785,013 more in value. Despite spending just $9,180,886 more than an average team, the White Sox enjoyed $70,604,127 more in SV.

That is, simply, BRILLIANT. Rick Hahn and the front office did a fantastic job in squeezing the most out of its payroll.

Another way to look at it: On a per-game basis, the White Sox gained almost a half-million dollars more in value from its roster than an average major league team.


Quick Peeks

Top Hitter SV Tim Anderson, $10,765,971
Top Pitcher SV Carlos Rodón, $16,599,792
Lowest Hitter SV Adam Eaton, -$7,355,618
Lowest Pitcher SV Dallas Keuchel, -$16,812,134
Biggest Hitter SV Gain Luis Robert, $8,649,245
Biggest Pitcher SV Gain Dylan Cease, $7,621,848
Biggest Hitter SV Drop Andrew Vaughn, -$3,308,245
Biggest Pitcher SV Drop Dallas Keuchel, -$5,739,130

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