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Grading the White Sox: Joe Kelly

Slice and dice it however you want, but Year 1 on the South Side was BAD

Minnesota Twins v Chicago White Sox
He had some champions given statistical bad luck in 2022, but Joe Kelly was bad for the White Sox — and he’s back for 2023!
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

At midseason, the SSS staff graded the 46-46 White Sox, from the head of the class Dylan Cease down to Dallas Keuchel. We invented a WARsss metric that could very well be just a cute way to trot out our special site grades — but really for all you know could be the product of years of research in a stats lab.

Our expanded report card will take us through everyone who saw time in uniform for the White Sox, plus some front-office types. Most of our writers will take on a couple of players, with final grades and short writeups, running through the end of November. Enjoy!

Joe Kelly
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
Midseason: -1.4 sssWAR
Final: -1.75 sssWAR

There’s little I’m going to say here that Brett didn’t predict seven months ago when Kelly was signed. Although, in addition to noting that the White Sox seemed to be bidding against themselves (again) and overpaying an older reliever (especially given other, more pressing needs) and that Kelly just hadn’t pitched enough to warrant upwards of $20 million over two years, Brett did not mention that Kelly was signed hurt and made his White Sox debut late, on May 9.

Back in the spring, however, it was mentioned that Kelly has had only one season in his career pitching 50-plus innings well — and that was five years ago. Aside from, perhaps, postseason experience, there’s nothing that Kelly was going to give the White Sox that any number of other Charlotte (or FA scrap heap) righties couldn’t — and certainly not enough to warrant the exorbitant price tag.

FanGraphs seems very lenient to Kelly and what his numbers “should” have been (presumably, better than a 6.08 ERA and -0.6 rWAR), but bad BABIP luck or whatever, Kelly at best had a REPLACEMENT-LEVEL season. Again, even if Rick Hahn gets off on collecting relievers, spend $17 million over two years on younger, healthier ones! Or: Ones who are not hurt when you sign them!

In Kelly’s defense his 3.06 FIP, best of his career and tracking with his previous-best 3.08 in 2021, indicates there is room for the righty to have a killer setup season in 2023 with the White Sox. But if so, Hahn basically breaks even with Kelly.

On a roster ending up full of unnecessary pieces, Kelly might have topped the unnecessaries.

This front office is so eaten up with dumb, I can’t stand it.

2022 White Sox Grades

Joe Kelly, RHRP, -1.75
Daryl Boston, 1B Coach, -2.0
Anderson Severino, LHRP, -2.2
Jerry Reinsdorf, OWN, -2.321
Jake Diekman, LHRP, -2.366
Rick Hahn, GM, -2.401
Bennett Sousa, LHRP, -2.425
Frank Menechino, BAT COACH, -2.469
Yasmani Grandal, C/DH, -2.549
Leury García, UTIL, -2.7
Adam Haseley, OF, -3.146
Joe McEwing, 3B Coach, -3.167
Ryan Burr, RHRP, -3.4
Tony La Russa, MGR, -3.5
Dallas Keuchel, LHSP, -3.9


Good lord, time to vote on Joe Kelly.

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    This grade was too harsh, I believe in FIP and what SHOULD HAVE been, not what was on the field.
    (3 votes)
  • 43%
    This grade was too easy, I believe in ERA and what happened on the field.
    (31 votes)
  • 52%
    Looks about right, and really I don’t want to have to think about Joe Kelly until February at the earliest.
    (38 votes)
72 votes total Vote Now