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2022 South Side Sox Value Survey: Ugh

It’s a fight between Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease for best value on the White Sox, while TA maintains the top spot on the hitters’ side

Texas Rangers v Chicago White Sox
A combination of rock-bottom salary and terrific performance put Michael Kopech in the lead for top value on the White Sox.
Quinn Harris/Getty Images

We’ve just passed the one-third mark of the season, so we’re overdue for a look at the value Rick Hahn is getting out of his team.

There’s a reason why I didn’t want to do this yet ... because we all know the results are going to be bad.

But, this bad? See, we had bad White Sox team values a few years back, because the team ... was bad. The 2022 season has provided a WORST CASE VALUE SCENARIO, of bad players, and high salaries.

Imagine Dallas Keuchel (or, for you Value Survey fans from way back to the origins, Alex Rios and Adam Dunn): negative WAR and high salary. That is DEFCON 1 for the Value Survey.

It was always going to be hard to get good value out of a team that is fifth seventh in MLB spending. Off the top of my head, to get positive value you’re probably looking at more than 100 wins. But the negative team value could have been (could still be) mitigated, where only the most massive salaries struggle to carry into the black.

Not so in 2022.

Overall, the White Sox have 16 players providing positive SV, while 23 players are in the red. Last year was an enormous value win for Hahn and the ball club, but this initial SV readout is a bloodbath worse than the below-.500 record would imagine.

  • Tim Anderson again ranks atop the player leaderboard, besting second-place Jake Burger by nearly a factor of two. It is noted every year, but TA continuing to deliver SV back to the White Sox even as his contract grows ($9.5 million in 2022) is a remarkable tribute to his continued growth as a player.
  • Last year, Yoán Moncada (second) and Leury García (fourth) were true SV heroes for the White Sox, and if you want a glimpse into the core of the offense’s woes, seeing them not falling to the middle, but toward the bottom of this report explains a lot. In both players’ cases, increased salary in 2022 plays a role in having a negative SV, but that is absolutely aggravated by negative WAR.
  • Luis Robert, who fell less than a million dollars short of passing Anderson for tops in White Sox player SV despite playing half a season last year, is in a position similar to Moncada in 2021, where even his (realistic) worst-case WAR will see him being a significantly positive SV factor all season.
  • Given the weight of his salary, José Abreu is almost always a trailer when it comes to SV (as you see with Yasmani Grandal right now), so it’s a tribute to him that his performance is in the realm of what he is being paid. Time will tell.
  • Grandal’s atrocious SV right now, one-third into the season, is worse that the last-place finisher in 2021 (Adam Eaton, -$7.4 million SV)! His SV right now is even worse than Dallas Keuchel.
  • Josh Harrison’s abysmal showing is further degraded by -0.1 WAR as a pitcher. Sorry, Josh.
  • No real surprises here at the top as the young and underpaid stars of the rotation, Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease, rank first and second. Kopech has already provided almost $3 million more SV than he did all last year out of the bullpen (when he was the team’s fifth-best pitching value), while Cease is about $1.5 million short of his full (also, second-place) SV in 2021.
  • Given Kopech’s miniscule salary, he is already more than halfway to Carlos Rodón’s team-best, $13.5 million SV in 2021. However, don’t count Cease out in the race for first, either.
  • Take is as either a dis on the White Sox pitching staff or a big win for the front office that afterthought Johnny Cueto — himself not paid nothing — is the third-best pitching SV.
  • Lucas Giolito “should,” in theory, be easily up in the green as the season wears on. His salary is similar to Anderson’s, so again, a tribute to TA that he is well in the green while Giolito is in a real battle right now.
  • Lance Lynn faces a much bigger hill, with both a significant salary to overcome and a third of the season lost to injury. If he can be 2021 Lynn, however, he’ll make it into the green.
  • Dallas Keuchel’s, -$16,812,134 SV in 2021 was the worst on the team. Thanks to his negative WAR and released status, he is guaranteed to be worse this season. And, hopefully, also the team-worst.

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 has 11.1 WAR, which is $49,093,363 in value. Subtracting average team salary of $52,959,399, average team SV is -$3,866,036.

The White Sox have 7.9 WAR, which is $34,729,552 in value. Subtracting White Sox salary of $71,375,020, White Sox SV is -$36,645,468. (To put that in perspective, last year’s TOTAL season SV, an enormous success, was $38 million, so at this pace the 2022 White Sox will eat that surplus up by July.)

So, the White Sox are 3.2 WAR worse than an average team, which is $14,363,811 less in value. Spending $18,415,620 more than an average team, the White Sox are getting back $32,779,432 less in SV.

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

Quick Peeks

Top Hitter SV Tim Anderson, $5,215,484
Top Pitcher SV Michael Kopech, $7,922,517
Lowest Hitter SV Yasmani Grandal, -$9,650,770
Lowest Pitcher SV Dallas Keuchel, -$9,560,991
Biggest Hitter SV Gain N/A
Biggest Pitcher SV Gain N/A
Biggest Hitter SV Drop N/A
Biggest Pitcher SV Drop N/A

[Based on a league payroll of $4,424,146,732, 1.0 WAR is valued at $4,424,146.73. 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 inflates WAR value by roughly 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.]