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2022 South Side Sox Value Survey: All-Star Break

Dylan Cease is running away from the pack, more than doubling anyone else’s surplus value so far

Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins
Dylan Cease is providing value to the White Sox at a rate of more than 30x his salary. WOW.
David Berding/Getty Images

It’s not a clean break, but it’s the All-Star break, so with just about 58% of the season in the rear-view mirror, let’s check in with the value that Rick Hahn is getting out of this team.

The good news? As the team’s winning percentage has grown, its surplus value deficit has shrunk. Things are sunnier than when we last checked in on surplus value, at the one-third point of the season.

Still, things aren’t great. It was always going to be hard to get good value out of a team that is is spending big (seventh in MLB). However, if things were proceeding as planned, say with the White Sox 10 better than .500 and comfortably ahead in the division, you’d be looking at closer to a break-even team.

Overall, the White Sox have 19 players providing positive SV, while 24 players are in the red (four of whom haven’t/won’t play for the White Sox this year). While 2021 was an enormous value win for Hahn and the ball club, things are much rougher this year, as wins have not increased along with spending.

  • Tim Anderson has taken a small hit in WAR and, for the first time in more than a year, tumbles from the top of the player leaderboard. He is still a plus-SV player, but no longer the tops on the team.
  • That distinction goes to the player who has been nipping at TA’s heels since he came back from injury in 2021, Luis Robert, who at nearly $6.5 million ranks second the club — a distant second — in SV.
  • 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, them falling toward the bottom of this report explains a lot. At least Moncada is fighting back toward at least break-even, gaining half a million in SV between reports this year — but Leury is in absolute free-fall.
  • José Abreu now providing positive value on his very weighty salary is BAD ASS. Contrast him with Yasmani Grandal, who would have to be performing at his PECOTA preseason-predicted prodigious level to be a positive SV player. And we all know, Grandal is not that player this year.
  • It’s a given that, at his salary/performance, Grandal would be the player SV trailer, but can you believe that AJ Pollock is within shouting distance of taking over the basement?
  • Seby Zavala, second-best SV among players!
  • Kudos not just to Abreu but Josh Harrison for such big gains over the past six weeks.
  • The offense itself is still badly underwater for the year, but it collectively gained $4.2 million in SV since the early June report.
  • What had been a neck-and-neck race between low-salary, high-performing pitchers Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease has turned into a runaway. As Kopech lost about a half-WAR and Cease nearly doubled his since the last report, Mr. Mustache has left the entire pitching staff — no, the entire team — in the dust.
  • Put another way, Cease is providing the White Sox more than 30 times his salary in playing value.
  • Kopech’s tumble is such that Johnny Cueto, no modest salary his, is on the verge of passing him as the second-best pitching SV on the White Sox.
  • Contrasted against the improving offense, the White Sox pitching took a huge SV hit from the first report in early June to now, dropping more than $7 million in SV.
  • Beyond Cease and Cueto, kudos to other significant gainers, Reynaldo López, Tanner Banks and José Ruiz.

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 17.9 WAR, which is $78,985,766 in value. Subtracting average team salary of $85,205,789, average team SV is -$6,220,023.

The White Sox have 17.1 WAR, which is $75,431,702 in value. Subtracting White Sox salary of $115,147,194, White Sox SV is -$39,715,493. (To put that in perspective, last year’s TOTAL season SV, an enormous success, was $38 million, so as predicted last report, the 2022 White Sox have eaten up that surplus up already.)

So, the White Sox are 0.8 WAR worse than an average team, which is $3,554,065 less in value. Spending $29,941,405 more than an average team, the White Sox are getting back $33,495,470 less in SV.

Another way to look at it: Every three games, the White Sox lose a million dollars more in value from its roster than an average major league team.

Quick Peeks

Top Hitter SV Luis Robert, $6,487,663
Top Pitcher SV Dylan Cease, $12,839,107
Lowest Hitter SV Yasmani Grandal, -$13,641,347
Lowest Pitcher SV Dallas Keuchel, -$13,718,110
Biggest Hitter SV Gain Josh Harrison, $4,876,744
Biggest Pitcher SV Gain Dylan Cease, $7,578,261
Biggest Hitter SV Drop Yasmani Grandal, -$3,990,577
Biggest Pitcher SV Drop Lance Lynn, -$6,036,109

[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.]