Thank the Lord that the weather is finally warming up. Scents of Spring are finally starting to float, and the mountains of snow are finally starting to melt. Football is long in the books. The NBA is starting to wind down, while March Madness is starting to heat up. Basketball just isn’t even on my mind. No — I need a little baseball in my life. With just over 10 days on the countdown until opening day, I can’t stop thinking about days at the ballpark. And yet, unfortunately, I have similar sentiments to last year when it comes to my favorite team; the White Sox have a lot of work to do.
As I had predicted, we’re coming off of a tough season. I don’t say that to pat myself on the back. In fact, I say that quite regrettably. At 63-99 I’d say we probably lost a few more games than even I would have predicted. But you can’t argue with those numbers. The Sox finished at the absolute bottom of the AL Central, the absolute bottom of the MLB in batting, the absolute bottom of the MLB in fielding and well near the bottom in pitching overall as well. If the boys in black want to change that this year, they’re going to have to make some changes.
Maybe the pitching staff needs to step it up a bit, but they’re undoubtedly the least to blame. Granted, saying that they’re the best unit on the team isn’t saying much. But nonetheless, the stats are on their side. Last season, they edged the American League average in ERA just slightly, posting 3.98 compared to the league’s 3.99. They recorded 90 quality starts, well exceeding the AL, and topping the National League and MLB averages. Batting average-against, strikeouts, earned runs — their peripherals are all on par with the league averages. After launching our winningest pitcher on the season, Jake Peavy, the starting-five will certainly see (at minimum) a new face. But if our pitchers can hold last season’s pace, they are by far the least of our worries.
I’m guessing you won’t gasp and clutch your pearls when I say that our fielding needs some serious work. Second to the Houston Astros, the Sox defense had the most errors of any infield in the league. They racked up a whopping 121 — about 40 more than the AL average, and about 30 more than the League average. Third baseman Connor Gillaspie, and shortstop Alexei Ramírez are foremost to blame, committing 17 and 22 errors respectively. And with each settling in to his position for the upcoming season, it is too early to tell whether we can expect much different.
What should surprise absolutely no White Sox fan is that we need the bats. Plain and simple.Chris Sale, who recorded a 3.07 ERA, with 226 K’s and 1.07 WHIP in 30 starts, Sale finished the season in the top-20 pitchers in the league. And yet, he managed to finish with a losing record — something that can only be explained by a horrendous performance swinging the bats from these White Sox. They averaged over 100 less runs than the rest of the American League and had one of the worst on-base percentages to boot. This will not do.
To make a long story short, if this team wants to win, they are going to have to start playing better across the board. There’s a lot of work to do, but a lot of time on the clock. It’s tough to say just what needs to change — they have the talent, but they’ve yet to start acting like it. It’ll be interesting to see, but I’m making the call now. Another season of stinky Sox.