Theoretically, there isn’t much of a difference between a 99-loss season and a 100-loss season. My trusty TI-83 graphing calculator says it’s just one game.
But mentally, there’s a sizable gap between the two. It’s not just because 10 fingers makes round numbers more accessible, or because there’s an extra digit involved in a fresh hundo.
It’s because I’d already written about a 99-loss season, and thanks to the 2018 White Sox, I have now written about a 100-loss season. The 100-loss season was worse.
That’s not recency bias. You can trust me for harboring no fond feelings for the 2013 White Sox, because I’m the idiot who stayed up all night compiling a highlight reel of all the ways the White Sox screwed up during a 1-9 road trip that year:
Here’s the tale of the tape between the 2013 and 2018 White Sox. The worse team is in the brown, and this year’s club has more of it:
|Runs scored (rank)||598 (15)||656 (12)|
|Runs allowed (rank)||723 (10)||848 (13)|
|Top WAR||6.5 (Sale)||3.1 (Lopez)|
Yes, Reynaldo Lopez accounted for nearly two-thirds of the White Sox’ positive WAR value for pitchers.
Another point in the 2013 team’s favor: The losing was novel. These Sox finished in fourth place for the fifth straight season, whereas the 2013 White Sox spent most of the prior season in first place before coming undone in September. Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Jake Peavy offered the Sox frequent professionalism in spite of the offense, and the trade of Peavy brought back Avisail Garcia and opened the door for a bunch of other prospects, even if they were largely underqualified.
This was a far more difficult team to write about, because the most important acquisition earned the club’s first-ever 80-game suspension at the MLB level (with my favorite headline), and the Sox’ other highly touted new guy tore his UCL after four starts. Most everybody else had already been around the block once, and regression threatened all successes, and with extreme prejudice.
Look at poor Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs. In spring training, he wrote a post called “Let’s Watch Lucas Giolito Look Very Good.” Giolito then started the season with more walks than strikeouts and a 7.00 ERA into late June.
When Giolito rebounded with a more encouraging stretch of starts to cut his ERA into the 5.00s, Sullivan wrote a post called “Lucas Giolito Is Saving His Season.” Giolito then finished the year with a 7.53 ERA over his last six starts.
Among local examples, after Patrick wrote about Nicky Delmonico regaining his slugging power in August, Delmonico hit .174/.217/.256 the rest of the way.
Bob Uecker said the best way to catch a knuckleball was to wait until it stopped rolling and pick it up. The same can be said about analyzing this team, at least with any hopes of variety in tone. Nothing gold could stay, and by the start of September, I couldn’t wait until the shelf life of October, when it’d be at least six months before the White Sox could undermine any positive speculation.
And as the Sox staggered toward the end of September, I kinda hoped for 100 losses, because it’d be one worse than 99, and so the record could speak for itself. The Sox pulled it off, and without dragging down Lopez (2.70 ERA since August) and Yoan Moncada (.301 average in September). I guess it was the least the White Sox could do in a year spent doing the least of any Sox club over the last 48 years.
* * * * * * * * *
Long story short, I picked a great season to relaunch a White Sox site.
But I have no regrets, because the “rolling conversation” approach to blogging is the one I most enjoy. Thanks to everybody who followed me over from South Side Sox, and to the OGs who followed me back to Sox Machine. I’m especially grateful for the 200+ supporters on Patreon. I didn’t know what to expect, but this was definitely more than that, and the support will allow me to improve the site’s hosting and back-end features in the coming weeks.
Thanks to Josh for rebranding the podcast, and to Patrick, Ted and Greg for making the jump and slinging fantastic ‘tent, too. And then there’s Our Man in Charlotte Jonathan Lee, who became Our Man in North Carolina this year.
Thanks to the beat writers for providing the first-hand accounts. Thanks to White Sox Twitter for the additional conversation. Thanks to 670 The Score, ESPN 1000 and CLTV for having us on, and special thanks to Jon Greenberg at The Athletic for inviting me to write “Sox is Singular” every week. Speaking of which, here’s an excerpt from today’s season-ender:
The Blackout Game would stand out as a crazy September among easier ones with most franchises. It’s a little lamentable that it was even necessary, as the Sox blew a 6-1 lead in the Metrodome for the third of five straight losses in the final week of the season. That skid served the purpose of heightening the drama – the White Sox had to win three games against three different opponents in the same stadium to win the division – but a forgettable four-game ALDS loss to the Rays reminds everybody how the Sox limped to the finish.
Imagine what recent White Sox history would look like if head-to-head records decided home-field advantage back then, rather than a coin flip (the Twins won the season series 10-9). Imagine what recent White Sox history would look like if Justin Morneau hit the solo shot instead of Jim Thome.
Make no mistake – the Blackout Game is beautiful for its flaws, not in spite of them. It shouldn’t loom over the next decade as large as it does. The Prudential Building was the tallest structure in Chicago when it was erected in 1955. Now it’s the 45th. That’s typically how time works.
If this is your first season with us, you should keep coming back despite the lack of games — or maybe because of it. We’ll be writing about the Sox every day, starting by sorting through the ruins of the season, after which we’ll fire up the Offseason Plan Project, follow the tepid stove, and before you know it, it’s the centennial of the Black Sox. Hey, say what you will about the 2018 White Sox, but at least they were trying their best.
Thank you, Jim and Josh and Pnoles and Ted and Greg and Jonathan, for making this miserable season a pleasure to read about, if not watch through hand-covered wincing eyes. See you in the offseason, which feels like it started on September 7 but I guess begins today.
Thank you for making us look good!
Thanks again Jim, Josh, Greg, Patrick and Ted. You guys are fantastic. You helped get us through this awful season. I’m cautiously looking forward to this offseason. I don’t know why, but I think they will make a big move this offseason (Machado?). The front office has to be really embarrassed by this debacle. I will be very interested to see the reaction by fans at Soxfest. There is certainly a lot of righteous anger out there. I hope Hahn and Jerry understand this and do something very meaningful.
You guys are the best! Keep it up.
“Hey, say what you will about the 2018 White Sox, but at least they were trying their best.”
-Aaaaand Brooks Boyer has his campaign for next season established, thanks to Jim. (Yet another reason the Sox should thank Jim, as this site is by far the most accomplished phenomenon associated with the Chicago American League franchise.)
WSB 2018: “We tried.”
Must have been cut off
“We tried the patience of our fans.”
Fan attendance in 2019: “No, you didn’t.”
Even if it isn’t followed by October baseball, it will be nice to reflect fondly on a White Sox season again. Seriously, if this isn’t the bottom, I’ll just move to China and catch a game when they dig their way there.
They’ve got to be just about there. I can’t imagine they can dig any lower!
“Dude, this is a rebuild. They were *supposed* to be bad.” – fan with head in sand.
Thanks for all the great content throughout the season. I find myself watching less games this year, but I never wavered in coming here to check out the analysis.
This year’s White Sox only lost five more games than last year’s and it’s really unbelievable how much less fun this year was.
At least we had August…
Agree. I think part of it was that there was no one having a very good season. Last year we had the bullpen, Avi, and Abreu. No one approached those 2017 seasons this year, and then Kopech’s injury + holding back Eloy pretty much sunk whatever fun the end of the year might have had in store.
The “less fun” effect for me was my total lack of interest in watching the product they put on the field. It’s really boring to watch lame-ducks players that are not even exciting nor will be part of the next core.. Cordell? Delmonico? Engel? Shields? Wellington? Davidson? LaMarre? Minaya? Jeanmar? Smith? Rondon? Covey made interesting for a bit…Waiting for the Eloy moment that NEVER came. Pffft, this team was awful. The only moment I felt excited was when Kopech started to pitch, which, of course, we can’t have nice things…quickly went to the DL
The worse thing about this 100 loss team is that next year team might be pretty much similar with a bunch of Cordells, Coveys, Davidsons, LaMarre’s….oh god…gimme the strength.
The style of play wasn’t even enjoyable. It’s so frustrating watching them get the first two guys on base then watch the next three strike out.
Bunting followed by 2 strikeouts was more frustrating
Thanks to the SoxMachine crew for your great work! I don’t post often but have definitely made this site part of my daily routine. Definitely looking forward to the future!
Thanks for everything. This year was the worst season I can remember in quite a while, very little to get excited about and whenever we did, something bad then happened. I might have to go back to some of those mid-late 90s teams to find a team I was so bored with.
On the flip side, my three year old feel in love with the game and the team this year. Having a partner in crime made it a lot easier, and frankly fun, to watch some dreadful baseball. The commentary here helped also. I’m not sure how much I would have watched if it wasn’t for the community both here, at SSS, and on social media.
I know we’ll all chip in with our assessments of the future, so I won’t do a round up here. But man things really look bleak. If last year was supposed to be the “darkest just before the dawn” season, I’m not sure what 2018 was.
I am listening the game on mlb.tv
Brewers scored first
Rooting for the Brewers badly
Is this the game thread?
Kinda shocked the Cubs went after Yelich. Also I wouldn’t have Q face Braun a third time.
I do want Q to pitch well though
No one can pitch to Yelich lately. If he does not win the MVP, that trophy stops having any meaning.
Neither team can go ahead and tax all the pen in this game with a potential one game and done looming. Managers will stretch their pitchers as much as they can.
Quintana is pitching very well.
The Brewers are a perfect example to how to win a division while rebuilding… They got elite fWAR from Yelich, and good free agent signings (LoCain). The White Sox can do the same, but Hahn needs to start by signing Machado.
I was surprised looking at the Brewers lineup at how many guys weren’t on the team last year: Cain, Yelich, Schoop, Mouse. Aguilar has only been there 2 years. They built that lineup very quickly
Yup…LoCain signing has been one of the best free agent signing this year…probably JD Martinez was better
Set up a thread for the Game 163s.
Thanks Jim and everyone. I really appreciate the dedication and professionalism day-in, day-out. I know I just had to check out occasionally, but the daily podcasts were perfect for keeping tabs on things. Here’s hoping happier times are ahead. Please?
Even when the Sox are producing excrement, you lot still offer an enjoyable experience. Thanks for making it happen.
Migrated the site to a new host overnight, so a couple of comments didn’t make the jump. I’m C&P’ing them over:
This team was worse than the 2013 team, but I did enjoy it more. Partly that is my growing appreciation for this community and the analysis on Sox Machine. Partly that is because we have some assembled talent in the pipeline and this was a good year generally for prospect depth. Probably most enjoyable was just watching a bunch of marginal major leaguers play hard.
On the flip side for me this year, injuries/setbacks for some specific high end prospects were a bummer. Giolito’s performance/inconsistency and Moncada’s growth trajectory were both sources of frustration. Renteria as a manager wore thin. Another disappointing element of 2018 was that having accumulated a lot of marginal players (DH, UT, corner OF who can’t play D, LHRP, etc.), the front office didn’t seem to know what to do with them all – eg I sympathize with Josh’s frustration with the way the FO manages the 40-man roster. This last element ended up being a big reason that I found the Eloy decision so frustrating – not just we’re we seeing no Eloy, but in part that seemed to be because the Sox didn’t want to make any tough decisions about Avi, Palka, Delmonico, and Davidson.
Anyhoo, this Patreon supporter says thanks for all the hard work by everyone here at Sox Machine. You guys are fantastic.