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Grading the White Sox: Tanner Banks

Garbage time relievers are important too, and this southpaw was at the top of the class

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox
In a season filled with bad storylines, Tanner Banks had one that was plenty sweet.
Michael Reaves/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!


Tanner Banks
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
Midseason: 3.1 WARsss
Final: 4.27 WARsss

A 3.06 ERA from a left-hander drafted by the Sox out of college in the 2014 draft? I sure am glad Carlos Rodón accepted that Qualifying Offer last year!

*Secret Service whispers in my ear*

Ah, well. Nevertheless!

In an unremarkable year filled with remarkable players having remarkable (in the worst possible way) seasons, Tanner Banks was the kind of unremarkable that we could use a lot more of in 2023. A 14th round pick back in that 2014 draft, Banks never once appeared on any kind of prospect list prior to making his big league debut at age 30 this season, but quickly showed that he belonged in some capacity by striking out the side in his debut and failing to allow a run through his first 12 innings (seven appearances).


With the White Sox having sat on both their right and left hands last offseason, it was clear the team would have an opening for a left-handed reliever come Opening Day. Banks filled the role admirably, outlasting fellow rookie lefty Bennett Sousa and ultimately filling the role of garbage-time innings eater with aplomb. There’s no argument that’s not what Banks was; the team was 8-27 in games in which he appeared, and nobody on the team had a lower average Leverage Index when they entered a game. That doesn’t mean Banks’ 3.06 ERA is something to sneeze at: His 3.54 FIP and 4.08 xERA were still quite respectable, and having watched pitchers like Manny Bañuelos attempt the same role as recently as three years ago, a solid, low-leverage reliever is not something to take for granted.

Banks’ stuff doesn’t merit making him a lock for the 2023 roster — none of it registers as above-average save perhaps a tick of extra velocity, for a lefty long reliever — but Banks will almost certainly enter the spring with a good chance at keeping a spot; After crashing down to earth and allowing 16 runs (11 earned) over seven May innings, the southpaw improved his command and finished the year with 23 appearances (33 13 innings) of 1.89 ERA hurling backed up by a league-average strikeout rate.

Banks has an unusually high release point and, consequentially, a fastball with almost perfect backspin. It was already an effective pitch in 2022 (.226 wOBA, .286 xwOBA), however, because he throws it with natural cut — its spin efficiency checks at an abnormally low 80% — the movement on the pitch falls short of interesting. If he were to stop cutting the ball so much, and can maintain his 93-94 mph velocity while doing so, he might have a genuinely plus-pitch on his hands, and probably a concrete bullpen role to go with it. We’ll just have to wait and see!


2022 White Sox Grades

Tanner Banks, LHRP, 4.27
Andrew Vaughn, “LF,” 4.25
Davis Martin, RHSP, 4.1
Seby Zavala, C, 4.0
Luis Robert, CF, 3.7
Lance Lynn, RHSP, 3.5
Miguel Cairo, Bench Coach/MGR, 3.48
Tim Anderson, SS, 3.43
Kendall Graveman, RHRP, 3.1
Josh Harrison, 2B, 3.0
Gavin Sheets, RF-1B, 2.5
Jake Burger, 3B, 2.2
Romy González, IF, 2.0
Aaron Bummer, LHRP, 1.8
AJ Pollock, OF, 1.3
Matt Foster, RHRP, 1.2
Yoán Moncada, 3B, 0.92
Lenyn Sosa, SS, 0.85
José Ruiz, RHRP, 0.83
Mark Payton, OF, 0.6
Carlos Pérez, C, 0.399
Lucas Giolito, RHSP, 0.392
Adam Engel, OF, 0.237
Vince Velasquez, RHP, -0.4
Reese McGuire, C, -1.1
Kyle Crick, RHRP, -1.65
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

Poll

We form opinions on Tanner Banks so you don’t have to. Thoughts on his grade?

  • 31%
    Too optimistic: Did he ever pitch in a big moment after May?
    (12 votes)
  • 18%
    Too harsh: Have some respect for a 3.06 ERA
    (7 votes)
  • 50%
    Just right: What else is there to say for a consummate garbage-time reliever?
    (19 votes)
38 votes total Vote Now