Leury García was the White Sox offense in October, for better or worse

I’ve been poking around at the White Sox’s ALDS performances, which is a little bit like trying to clean an office microwave. When you try to start prying apart all the mistakes that have burned, melted and fused together, you soon realize that you’d rather just throw the whole thing in the dumpster and pay out of pocket for a fresh start, even if the next one might get just as filthy.

The problems on the mound were easily detectable in real time. White Sox pitchers walked 18 batters over 34 innings, most of them couldn’t present the breaking ball as a threat, and Tony La Russa was steps too slow in pulling the starter in the second and fourth games. Then again, even perfect managing might not have been enough to preserve the series, because they White Sox struggled on both sides of the ball.

Unlike the pitching numbers, the offensive woes are not necessarily apparent from the White Sox’s total ALDS stats. They hit .291 as a team, and they posted a .361 OBP. Six lineup regulars hit .250 or better. That’s not terrible; a little light on power, but with enough line-moving and contributions throughout the order to maybe make it pay off. An average of 4.5 runs per game can win a series.

But then you realize that they scored 12 of their 18 runs in one of the four games, and the dissatisfaction becomes a bit more clear.

GamesPARH2BHRBBKHBPAVG/OBP/SLG
Total15818413312394.291/.361/.376
Game 3471216225131.390/.468/.585
Remainder111625117263.225/.318/.290

Two extra-base hits over 111 plate appearances is pretty staggering, especially since both of them were hit by Gavin Sheets, a guy who wasn’t supposed to be a meaningful part of the White Sox’s plans this year. That’s a nice development story, but like Dewayne Wise in the 2008 ALDS (the statute of limitations expired on Sporcle spoilers), he’s not supposed to be driving the thing.

Tim Anderson and Luis Robert tried to lead the way, going a combined 14-for-34 toward the top of the order. That’s good for a .412 average and a .460 OBP, and now they’ve each posted strong showings in their first two cracks at the postseason. Alas, they also slugged .412 between them, and Robert was thrown out in the White Sox’s only attempt to steal second. Meanwhile, the Astros were successful in all five of their stolen-base attempts. That was a known weakness of the White Sox, but it didn’t loom large because the Astros had an edge of eight extra-base hits over the three losses.

José Abreu, Eloy Jiménez and Yoán Moncada also failed to generate extra-base hits, as did César Hernández and Adam Engel, who supplemented Leury García at the position he wasn’t playing at a given time. Besides Sheets, the only other non-singles came from García (homer, double), Yasmani Grandal (homer) and Andrew Vaughn (double).

I’d argue that García embodies the White Sox offense better than any other player during the ALDS.

  • Game 3: 2-for-5, HR, 2B, 2 K
  • Remainder: 1-for-10, 1 BB, 5 K

The homer was huge, and a legitimately great bit of postseason theater

… but the other three games showed why everybody calls him a utility player despite La Russa’s protestations. García carries plenty of roster value as a guy who can step in at a number of positions to help a team get through 162 games. He’s not an ideal starter in a postseason series, when there’s less value in simply getting by.

And while it feels unfair to draw attention to García for an ALDS where so many others failed to deliver even one big hit, I couldn’t help notice that in both of the White Sox’s abbreviated postseason runs these last two years, the White Sox have needed García to start in an outfield corner. In the series against Oakland, he was seen as the best replacement for Eloy Jiménez in left field despite a hand injury that prevented him from getting any reps in September, mostly because Nomar Mazara‘s two functioning hands still left him punchless.

This time around, García was considered the best option at a position for all four games because Adam Eaton flopped early, Hernández flopped later, Engel couldn’t stay healthy and Vaughn never stuck as a threat against righties. While García played exponentially better this October — he went 0-for-6 with three strikeouts against Oakland — Rick Hahn should notice that cutting corners in the corners ends up forcing García to try cleaning up the mess. He can be effective in small doses over the course of the season, but like the sponge in an office kitchen, he’s only going to be so effective at absorbing a big spill after six months of emergencies.

In this case, he went 1-for-4. The “1” was outstanding and one to personally savor, but the front office needs to examine why García’s denominator got bigger from one October to the next. It shouldn’t take much time.

(Photo by Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports)

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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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Brett R. Bobysud

I’ll be interested to see what kind of market Garcia draws in the off-season.

There’s value to having a guy like him on the roster, even if he’s not starting everyday.

vince

There are better options than Leury if the Sox spend some cash like Chris Taylor or Kris Bryant – these are guys with the same positional flexibility, can hit, and belong in a lineup every day.

jhomeslice

I think Reinsdorf is whispering to Hahn that Joc Pederson might just be the lefthanded bat they need – at an affordable price!

I hope they get serious this offseason and finally give Hahn the payroll space he needs to make this team better with a signing or two that fans can get excited about.

metasox

Will be interested to see how the Sox reconcile “affordable price” and things “fans can get excited about”

dwjm3

Love your last paragraph…..

Jerry ignored what he should have already known about his GM.

We knew from the so called “retooling” or rebuild on the fly that Hahn executed that he wasn’t good at finding adequate players to fill out a roster. Meaning he isn’t good at finding a 2 war player to supplement the elite talent on the roster.

Reinsdorf armed with that intel constrains Hahn on payroll and forces us to aim for a platoon of Eaton and Engel. If he wants Hahn as his GM he needs to accept Hahn’s weaknesses and work to mitigate them. He should have fired him after his first rebuild flop If he didn’t want to spend to counter Hahn’s weaknesses.

Last edited 9 months ago by dwjm3
burning-phoneix

 Meaning he isn’t good at finding a 2 war player to supplement the elite talent on the roster.”

Leury is literally a 2 WAR player this season.

As Cirensica

He has Yolmer’s problem where he needs a ton of playing time to accumulate that WAR production. Don’t get me wrong, a 2 WAR player is not a bad thing.

PA81037

I keep hearing statements like this one and I just honestly don’t understand it. 126 games in a season filled to the brim with injury isn’t “a ton of playing time” beyond reason in my book. And most utility players in the MLB making under $4mil/year still wouldn’t accumulate WAR production like that even with that much playing time.

A starter that’s consistently capable of being a 2 WAR player usually comes off the market at around $15mil/year; that’s almost exactly what we saw with Keuchel, except a little more because he’s a pitcher. That’s kind of what Leury was this season. Starting in various different positions in all but 36 games and being a 2 WAR player. I don’t see what the issue is, this isn’t a Yolmer situation in my mind at all.

If he were being paid $18mil like Yaz it would be a different situation, and that’s considering Yaz’s 3.7 WAR last season despite missing significant time was still overachieving for his contract. He isn’t though. Leury made $3.5mil last season.

Yeah, he’s not an everyday starter on a championship team. But the fact that he CAN BE a 2 WAR player as one is valuable. Ideally on a championship team he plays maybe 70 games as a utility gap filler. That’s still good for a bit over 1 WAR per season. Would it really be a problem if Hahn signed that for around $5-7mil/year? I don’t think so personally, but I can see why some people would disagree.

Trooper Galactus

I like Leury a lot and think he’s been vastly underappreciated by fans, but I don’t think Hahn is throwing $5 million or more at him because:

1) This was his best season ever, by a significant margin, and has to be considered a best case scenario and not a reasonable expectation

2) Even this season he struggled a bit with wear and tear, and he has a history of missing time with injuries even as a reserve player

3) Romy Gonzalez might not be as good as Leury, but if you’re looking for a super-utility who can spell a guy in an emergency on a budget-conscious team he probably makes more sense than throwing the sort of money at Leury that has been going to the team’s starting right fielders the last couple years.

Personally, I’d offer Leury a 2-year deal at his current salary ($3.5 million a season). If he gets better than that elsewhere, kudos for him.

PA81037

That’s entirely fair. I feel like that’s a good spot to start either way. I feel like in general, Leury might be willing to take less money just because of the camaraderie with the team anyways. I think if Hahn offered him 3 years/$12mil he would take it. That’s a very team-friendly deal in general too.

dwjm3

He is a utility player that was essentially slotted up because of a hole. He also doesn’t have the requisite skill set for right field namely any power.

vince

That’s also a career high WAR for a player on the wrong side of 30.

metasox

Sound judgement and payroll do go somewhat hand-in-hand. Like if Hahn had more payroll to work with, presumably he wouldn’t have ended up in a situation where he rushed out to sign Eaton for fear of being left needing to sign a guy left floating around, like Goodwin. Oops.

I have some confidence that when management takes its time, as it did in dealing Sale, Eaton and Quintana, and is open minded, they make better deals. When they feel pressured as when an overachieveing team started going south and they made the Shields deal or get their heart set on Kimbrel at the deadline or rush to get a right fielder, they have much more mixed results.

Last edited 9 months ago by metasox
dwjm3

I think what you are saying you feel Hahn has the necessary skill set to succeed if Jerry allows him the latitude. He is also better at long term planning as opposed to tactical decision making?

phillyd

They offered Pederson $10 mil and he turned it down. Maybe with 2 years of success, guys will actually want the Sox money now.

Trooper Galactus

There seems to be a running narrative that Pederson turned down a $10 million offer because he didn’t want to play for the White Sox, and I don’t buy that. It was the opening of free agency and he thought he could get a multi-year deal; a miscalculation that cost him several million dollars.

soxygen

You are giving Jerry way too much credit. And potential GM candidates not enough.

Jerry isn’t reining in the budget because he lacks confidence in his GM – he does that because he’s a cheap bastard.

And it’s not like if he fired Hahn he’d find a brilliant GM – he’d have trouble finding anyone good willing to interview for the job and so he’d end up hiring Gordon Beckham.

dwjm3

I agree that Jerry reigns in the budget because he is cheap.

Trooper Galactus

This is silly, people would be lining up to be the GM for the White Sox, Reinsdorf or no. There’s only 30 of these jobs in the world, and a lot of people lining up for that opportunity. However, yes, Jerry’s insular method to hiring would probably lead to some familiar face who has no business doing the job.

dwjm3

I’m not sure I agree

Hahn told us last offseason that decisions are typically made by a consensus of him, Jerry, and Kenny.

I’m not sure a top GM candidate is going to put up with an owner that meddles as much as Jerry.

Trooper Galactus

If it’s a guy with a long track record, a solid reputation, and multiple choices (or the prospect of future choices), sure. But that doesn’t apply to many people.

Root Cause

Highly successful, experienced GM’s would not apply. Other’s with little to no experience would apply in droves. Careful what you wish for, hell it might be AJ.

Joliet Orange Sox

Another interesting, well-written article. I feel bad because I’m now going to nit pick about typos because they confused me for a second.

There’s a sentence that refers to the Sox posting a .361 OPS which I think should be .361 OBP.

The last column of the table has the heading AVG/SLG/OBP and I think it should be AVG/OBP/SLG.

Sorry to be a nit picker. These typos did confuse me for a second.

NancyFaustsOrgan

“…but like the sponge in an office kitchen, he’s only going to be so effective at absorbing a big spill after six months of emergencies.”

LOVE THIS!

Trooper Galactus

I still cannot believe Hahn traded for Nomar Mazara to “solve” right field last year. He was a mediocre player year in and year out. After coming to the White Sox, he was catastrophically bad. He didn’t even last the 2021 season with a moribund Detroit Tigers team because he continued to be catastrophically bad. Look, I get not seeing the collapse coming as hard as it did, but anybody who was paying attention knew trading for Mazara was a commitment to mediocrity.

NancyFaustsOrgan

Why do I feel like Hahn and Company will consider Joey Gallo a viable RF option?

Joliet Orange Sox

I can easily imagine scenarios where I would see Gallo as a viable RF option. He is a good defensive outfielder even if one believes the 2020 gold glove was undeserved. He’s a left handed bat with a career OPS+ of 114 (122 in 2021). MLBTR projects him to get $10.2M in arbitration for next year (his last year before free agency). He’ll turn 28 next month.

For me to be ok with acquiring Gallo would require 2 things:

  1. The Sox spend big elsewhere after saving on RF.
  2. The Sox don’t overpay in the trade for Gallo.

I think we all expect the Sox to go cheap in filling at least one of the needs. There are many ways for the Sox to go cheap that are worse than Joey Gallo in RF. I’d rather Gallo in RF be the cheap move than César Hernández at 2b be the cheap move. (Of course, the Sox are more than capable of going cheap at more than one spot.)

Trooper Galactus

Given where the White Sox are financially heading into 2022, barring a massive uptick in spending we are looking at either trading a core piece like Moncada for the savings or hoping that Hahn strikes gold in the bargain bin (something he has proven far more often than not that he is horrible at).

Possibly both.

Last edited 9 months ago by Trooper Galactus
Root Cause

Moncada’s name keeps popping up and I feel that this is nearly a foregone conclusion that he will be traded. We are almost in the same place as were in 2016. We have holes to fill and there is little from low A to triple A that looks promising.

Joliet Orange Sox

I don’t buy that the Sox are “almost in the same place” as 2016. The 2016 Sox won 78 games and finished 16.5 games back. This year the Sox won 93 games and won the division. “Almost” doesn’t cover that much difference.

Root Cause

If the number of wins is the measuring stick, then you are correct. Our core is better. Our pitching is definitely better.
If you add up the number of missing pieces needed at the MLB level and look at the current talent in the minors, then I see a lot of similarities.

texag10

What missing pieces though? Rodon leaves and we can slot Kopech in to the rotation. If we can somehow move Keuchel and his salary, we can add another pitcher to the rotation if you want to solidify it even more but I don’t know if that’s a necessity.

Lopez seemed to perform cromulently out of the bullpen this season. We are also getting Cordero and Marshall back from injury. I’d like to see them go hard at retaining Tepera and then the bullpen is set.

As horrible as Hernandez has been, he’s averaged 2.3 fWAR over the past 5 seasons. $6M is not that big of a hurdle to get over to see if his half season with us was just a fluke or not.

So that leaves RF as the last major hole that we most certainly need to look externally at but I’m gonna guess that we don’t spend too crazily there based on the Vaughn/Sheets experiments out there from this past season. Abreu isn’t leaving until he wants to. Eloy is sticking in left field and looked less lethal out there post-injury. So either we are platooning Vaughn/Sheets at DH, trading one of them, or putting one in RF.

Root Cause

You may be 100% correct and I hope you are.
But there are a lot of ‘ifs’ in your plans.

Needs to be addressed:
Keuchel, Kimbrell – both will cost a lot to move and more to keep.
RF- We need to get past platoon players. Vaughn has to prove he can hit righties or he becomes a reduced version of Garcia.
All the minor talent has graduated. Coupled with salaries that are about to go up and Jerry is stingy, it looks like a, yet to be identified new, hole will be created unless Jerry has a change of heart.

Concerns:
April Kopeck was golden. July-October not so much. He wasn’t overused and he isn’t a lock for a starting position if he can’t survive 2 innings of relief work in 2021.
Hernandez was to bring 20 HRs/year with him. We can call his time in a white sox uni a temporary blackout but his defense is indefensible. With that, it makes his power outage more concerning.
We need a better backup catcher. Grandal missed a lot of time a couple of times.

I hate to sound all doom and gloom. We may well see some good movement in the winter and I hope so. We have a good team but it doesn’t change my belief that there are pieces missing if we want more than a divisional championship.

Last edited 9 months ago by Root Cause
texag10

The issue with Hernandez sounds like a “you” problem more than his fault. His career high prior to this year was 15 home runs in 708 PAs. If you thought his 20 homers in 420 PAs was sustainable, that’s on you. Now, his career low batting average and BABIP are definitely causes for concern…

Root Cause

You asked what holes and I mentioned several.
You ignored all the answers except Hernandez.
Go back and read what I wrote. I did not say he should hit 20 homers in 420 at bats.
However,
He had 17 homers in May, June, and July.
Yes, I hoped for more than 3 when he switched uni’s for 1/2 a season.

You can attack me if you like but it is my right to have an opinion whether you like it or not.
You asked what holes and I mentioned several.
You ignored all the answers except Hernandez.
He had 17 homers in May, June, and July.
Yes, I hoped for more than 3 when he switched uni’s.

You can attack me if you like but it is my right to have an opinion whether you like it or not.

Last edited 9 months ago by Root Cause
texag10

If you think that was a personal attack on you, I’m not sure how you’ve survived on the internet for this long. Hernandez has 3 total seasons in his career with double digit home runs. The 20 home runs were a definite fluke and it’s not outside the norm for him to go long stretches without home runs. His average season is Madrigal with a bit more pop. There was nothing unexpected about him not hitting any home runs with us because he has traditionally not been a consistent power hitter. The batting average is concerning and definitely to the point that $6M to keep him is a risk but the lack of power is neither surprising nor concerning enough to be rationale for jettisoning him.

Root Cause

You must be in management. Never correct your own mistakes and just keep trying to demean others. Enjoy the rest of this on your own. I am just not interested enough in what you say to continue on.

metasox

I really agree with the backup catcher. Not just because Grandal missed time there, but because his bat needs to be in the lineup. Could envision the Sox reducing his catching time and then also using him as part of a flexible DH solution.

As Cirensica

The number of wins is always the measuring stick.

Trooper Galactus

Nomar Mazara never even had a single season where he produced 1 WAR. Gallo produced 4.6 bWAR this season, even with his post-trade swoon. The latter is a viable idea to solve the hole in right field. The former was never a good idea and somehow became an even worse idea once we had him.

As Cirensica

Nicholas Castellanos is the guy Hahn should go after. He will be (again) in my off season plan.

Trooper Galactus

I like Castellanos in theory, but he just feels like exactly the sort of guy who the White Sox bring in just in time for his career to enter a downward spiral.

Soxfan2

I think it’s going to come down to spending big on RF and then going cheap on 2B or vice versa**. For example, they sign Castellanos for RF then it’s going to be Hernandez or Eduardo Escobar manning second. Personally, I’d prefer signing Semien for 2nd and then signing one of Pham/Conforto/Canha for RF.

** = Contingent on Jerry increasing the budget

Last edited 9 months ago by Soxfan2
mrridgman

Unless the world turns upside down I agree that the budget won’t expand much, making it impossible to sign quality 2b and RF candidates – I also believe they need at least another starting pitcher, as the current projection includes Keuchel (I think his pride will lead to a partial 5th starter bounceback) and Kopech, who was not stretched out to any meaningful extent – Sox will be lucky if he pitches 120 innings next year.

My preference is a Semien-type signing, with Vaughn/Sheets playing RF (unless there is a logjam trade).

texag10

I don’t think Keuchel is a bad 5th starter in general but I think the uncertainty with Kopech makes his presence and ability a little more concerning. I think my offseason plan is going to involve some kind of trade but I just don’t know what could/should be acceptable for another team to take on his salary.

metasox

Besides not knowing how much Kopech can provide in the rotation, the Sox may be well served to stash some rotation depth in the bullpen. Because there isn’t a whole lot at Charlotte. If Kopech started in the pen, he most likely he would still find his way to the rotation, but at least he wouldn’t be counted on from day 1 in the Spring.

texag10

I guess I’m just thinking through that alternative and I don’t get it. Say we keep Kopech in the bullpen since he only threw 70ish innings this year. We most likely have to keep Keuchel in that scenario and we still have to replace or keep Rodon. Either way we won’t have some cheap fungible arm in the rotation for Kopech to easily replace when we decide he’s ready to start. Do we go to a 6 man rotation? Do we move someone to the bullpen to replace Kopech even though no one in this scenario is well suited or should be in the bullpen? Are we doing all this expressly planning/hoping on a long-term injury that requires Kopech to replace a starter?

I don’t really know what Kopech can bring as a starter but if the plan is for him to be one, this upcoming season seems like the time to do it. Not to mention, the alternative seems to require a lot more foresight and planning than our front office has seemed capable of up to this point.

PA81037

Leury is going to get some offseason attention, but we need to sit down and be honest.

A lot of people wanted Hahn to turn down Leury’s option last year after the injury that immediately followed a hot start in 2020. He didn’t. My tinfoil hat theory? He wanted to give him one more year on the cheap to see if he could stay healthy.

If Hahn had no intentions of trying to keep Leury around longer, why exactly would he spend the money to see if he could stay healthy almost like an audition for other teams to scoop him up? That honestly doesn’t make a lot of sense. And if he thought there was no chance he’d be good, I don’t see why he’d spend the money there either.

I think Leury’s history with this team, how comfortable he is around these guys, having set roots in Chicago, etc. was noticed by Hahn. I think he knew he’d be able to keep Leury around for the rest of his career for much cheaper than he’s worth if he could somehow prove he was worth the money. A 2 WAR player entering his 30s in a season of 126 games as a utility player has value on the market, probably at around $10mil a year for some higher spending teams. In Hahn’s mind he probably thinks he’s getting a steal if he can get him to sign a 4 year/$25mil deal. Honestly I’d be on board with it myself, even if only for the mental aspect of keeping the current longest tenured player around.

Plus if we’re being honest, he deserves the money. Vaughn in a near identical situation, even at his best, wasn’t as good as Leury this season. There’s a ton of value in keeping him around.

Trooper Galactus

I picked up Leury’s option because I saw him as a 1-WAR player who could fill in with a resonable degree of competence at almost any position for most of the season. I still value him as that, even after his 2-WAR season.