Notes from The Bill James Handbook 2019

In a November tradition, I picked up the latest installment of the Bill James Handbook and flipped through it to test some assumptions and learn things I’d never processed to the point of assuming.

Here’s a sample of what I’ve gleaned so far:


*There isn’t a hitter on the White Sox who is especially vulnerable to the shift, even if there are some who get shifted against. Daniel Palka had 17 hits taken away from him due to such positioning, but he also beat it 15 times, so the net loss was only two hits.

*The Sox had the eighth-worst baserunning in terms of net bases gained, losing 15 as a team. They led the league by getting thrown out 34 times attempting to advance. Adam Engel led the team at +18 despite being a wash in stolen bases.

*Avisail Garcia indeed had the longest homer by an American League hitter at 481 feet, which isn’t bad for a league with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in it.

*Bad news: Yoan Moncada is only projected for a .699 OPS in 2019.

*Good news: Eloy Jimenez? .291/.340/.517.


*Reynaldo Lopez was one of two White Sox pitchers to show up in positive categories on this list. He threw the third-most fastballs 95 mph and higher (1,439), behind Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino, partially because only J.A. Happ and Justin Verlander threw their fastball more often than Lopez (60.9 percent) among qualified starters.

*Jace Fry was the other, with the league’s ninth-lowest OBP allowed among relievers (.267) and the sixth-lowest slugging (.274).

*Lucas Giolito, besides leading the league in walks and runs, also led the AL in stolen bases allowed by a large margin (26 to 18).

*James Shields was among three pitchers with 18, but he led the league in runners caught stealing on his watch (eight).

*Giolito is projected for a 4.76 ERA next year, which is both mediocre and an improvement of nearly a run and a half.


*The White Sox finished with the fifth-worst defense in terms of Defensive Runs Saved (-56).

*Palka finished -10 over 43 games in right field alone according to DRS, which isn’t surprising. But Charlie Tilson was equally bad in left (-8 in 32 games), which is.

*The Sox were second in shifts deployed with 1,855, only six behind the Rays. It’s an increase of 365 shifts from last season.

*Yolmer Sanchez was the Sox’ best defender, and was second among third basemen with 25 plays that required a dive, slide or jump. Matt Chapman, the Gold Glove winner and Fielding Bible winner, led with 36.

*Engel had more home run robberies in a week than anybody else had all season.


*The Sox came out ahead in challenges at +4, with a 51.2 percent success rate for, and a 42.5 percent success rate against. For context, the Royals led at +14, and the Mets finished last at -15.

*Guaranteed Rate Field finished as a below-average home run park with a park index of 96. Average is 100, and it’s a big change considering the three-year park index is 109.

*Rick Renteria led all of baseball in slow hooks with 66, which is probably due more to the damage suffered early by starters during a 100-loss season (think Giolito) than any kind of particular mindset. He was also first in pitchouts called with 10.

*Renteria finished with with 28 sacrifice attempts called, which is a little higher than the AL average (25). Alex Cora, A.J. Hinch and John Gibbons each finished with fewer than 10, while Terry Francona led the AL with 44.


  • Jim Margalus

    Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Minor League Ball on Rule 5 prospects.

Thoughts on any of them? It seems like the Sox could certainly afford to carry a CF, if they wanted to (Forrest Wall).


Some interesting infielder types available.
If the Sox move move Moncada off 2B, that could open playing time. Possibly for someone to split time with Rondon and get a look while Madrigal toils in the minors.


I like your idea of taking a CF or OF capable of playing all 3 spots. We are in for another long year and it would be hard for anyone to hit worse than Engel did this year. I also like Richie Martin, SS from OAK. Played whole year at AA last year so he’s not thaaaat far from getting a cup of coffee anyway. Above average defense and hit .300/.369/.439 on the year. I’d be fine spelling TA if he starts the season like he ended 2018. Also if Moncada is getting shifted to 3B, we can try him at second. It would be nice to add some upper level middle infield depth if we can find a way to put him on the 25 for the 90 days. Another option I’d support would be finding a trade for Castillo and taking a catcher with highly rated receiving/defensive skills (Ali Sánchez or other).

Josh Nelson

I could see Hahn pulling a similar maneuver like he did last by drafting a player and trading them to another team for cash or international money.


We’re out of the penalty box for international spending this year, right?

lil jimmy

Come July.


Moncada was pegged as a future CF by a lot of scouts as a prospect. I know that the Sox have a lot of CF options in the minors but if they are going to love Moncada I think that makes the most sense. The errors will likely only get worse at 3B provides he doesn’t make a dramatic improvement with his ability to field the ball cleanly.


I’m intrigued by this David Thompson from the Mets. A 3B who has also played 1B. His 2018 season was roughly a lose as he was hurt most of the year. But did play a little in AAA and scouting reports suggest he would have gotten a look at the big league level at some point last season. Has power and solid defensive skills and adjusted his approach in 2017 and had some good success with the hit tool.

Seems like the type of gamble the Sox should go for. Sox need some depth at both 3B & 1B. I think he’s be a solid flyer to grab in the rule 5, then if they end up signing Machado, or trading for a more proven piece they can send him back. And if they don’t sign any other third baseman then he’s got a chance to compete for the position in spring training.


That bit about Sox Park being so pitcher friendly kinda blew my mind, but I’m guessing the miserable weather in April and May had something to do with that.


Same. Even more surprising given that the dong-show that is James Shields threw a full season there last year too. Not to mention some of our other pitchers performances.

lil jimmy

Maybe the fact that our team is lousy at hitting home runs is at play here.


I think the park factor calculation takes that into account? We also only had 4 fewer homers than in 2017, and actually 14 more than the 2016 squad.


May not take into account how bad the tigers and royals are all of a sudden though. Lot of bad offensive teams in the central


if Moncada ops’s 699 you can cancel the rebuild, mercy thats a low prediction

do we have any theories on why the ballpark is all of a sudden pitcher friendly? Is it just that the sox have done a miserable job of adding home run hitters? Is there a way to get the stat sample of just what road teams have done as a whole thru the years to see if the drop is actually ballpark conditions changing or if its simply the sox lack of hitting

Greg Nix

Love this deal for the Braves. This is pretty much the contract I hoped the Sox would offer him.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I’m not sure why Donaldson would make sense on a one year deal for the Sox. Shouldn’t they be looking at signing guys for 2 or 3 years, so that they’ll be there when they’re good? I can see a one year deal for a cheap stop gap guy, but not for $23MM / year.

He’d help them compete and fill third base if he was good, and wouldn’t hurt 2020 flexibility even if he was bad.


Unless they sign ‘another’ third baseman, this team will be nowhere near contention

If they signed Harper and some pitchers, then I think a 1-year deal for Donaldson would possibly make sense. Otherwise you’re spending $23MM for no reason, because they aren’t making the playoffs this year without a lot of changes.


That shrinks the pool of going for it talent. I hope the Sox have an actual plan of either going for it or signing players to one year contracts.


Welcome back, Ian Clarkin


White Sox reclaim LHP Ian Clarkin off waivers from Cubs. Cubs 40-man roster now at 38.

— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) November 26, 2018


It’s like he never left

Lurker Laura

There are times I feel badly for professional baseball players (usually the MiLB kind), and this is one of them. Weird and jerking around for no reason.


If the Met’s are considering DFA’ing Travis D’arnaud, should the White Sox try to trade for him? He had tommy john within the first couple weeks of 2018, but should be back early this year. He’s typically been considered a top 15ish framer in baseball and a better than league average bat for a catcher. He would be a nice 1-2 year stop gap at catcher. Wellington Castillo for D’arnaud would allow the White Sox to shed some salary and improve defense. This move also gives the Mets a full time catcher to replace D’arnaud and will allow them continue to re-tool their roster. Not to mention, he’s been more durable than D’arnaud. 


Chisenhall to the Pirates, 1 year, $2.75 million. If that’s what he’s getting, then Avi will definitely be non-tendered. So far, the money these guys are signing for is pretty underwhelming.


More of a platoon guy.
But he isnt bad at swinging a wooden stick at a round ball so he has that on Avi.

Patrick Nolan

Regarding sac bunt attempts called — does it count as an attempt if the player fouls off the ball and picks up a strike and then the bunt is called off afterwards?