Spare Parts: White Sox far from only team frequently resting regulars

(Photo by David Richard/USA TODAY Sports)

Tony La Russa is nearly 20 years older than Ozzie Guillen, but he had the more progressive attitude in their debate about how often Tim Anderson needed rest.

Over at Baseball Prospectus, Russell Carleton looked into how teams have allocated playing time among their starting position players, and there’s been a sharp dive over the last seven or so years. In previous years, such a shift might’ve been explained by a couple of teams that got really into platooning, but with benches embracing minimalism, the handedness advantage has remained stable this century.

Instead, he sees it as a marriage of two trends, both of which La Russa has embraced.


MLB teams have responded by doing the obvious. In addition to utility players, they’ve begun actively developing multi-positionalists, even among their starting players. In fact, we’ve seen a surge in multi-positionality in MLB. In 2021, of all the players who logged at least 81 games played, 7.5% played at least four different positions five times each. That number was 9.8% in 2019, and was up from a pretty consistent rate of 4% as late as 2014.

And two:

Teams are using their ability to shift players around (along with the fact that they have a steady stream of “disposable” players) to get their starters more rest. They are spreading the load around more than they ever have before.

Alas, attitudes only go so far. As Anderson’s groin injury shows, it’d help a lot more if rest had a higher correlation with team health. Or, if the White Sox didn’t prioritize utility players over guys who could hold down one job if asked to. But here we are.

Spare Parts

James Fegan looks at the White Sox’s baserunning numbers and sees that they’re successfully aggressive in so many situations, but they’re snake-bitten when it comes to plays that involve crossing the plate.

While Craig Kimbrel is 10-for-11 in saves this year, everything else is pointing in the wrong direction. His velocity is dipping, the control problems have returned, and he’s been scored upon in five of his last seven outings as a result. The White Sox were lucky to get out from under his contract, no matter how AJ Pollock is doing.

The White Sox’s injury excuse only goes so far, because the Twins are dealing with their own injury and COVID issues. The AL Central is probably going to be a rock fight all year long.

The Royals are keeping the White Sox from challenging for the American League’s worst run differential, and it looks like Dayton Moore has officially run out of goodwill from 2015.

The White Sox had kept Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in check until his late-inning insurance homer on Wednesday, and basically staying low, low, low is the way to go.

Just in case there was any doubt about whether Donaldson was capable of reflection, the answer is “lol.”

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Is there a correlation between more rest = fewer/less severe injuries? Enquiring minds want to know.


I’ve never played a single major league baseball game in my life and I’ve never incurred a baseball-related injury, so there ya go.


Here’s a couple doctors saying there is a correlation and more rest should be considered. (But it also cites members of the commissioner’s office as co-authors, so maybe there was pressure to increase rest to decrease value to tamp down salaries for star players.),strains%20in%20professional%20baseball%20players.


I think Russell Carleton has some research about more rest = better performance.

Torpedo Jones

I suppose you could assume that each game played increases the likelihood of injury by some small amount, both in terms of simply having more opportunities to get hurt and long-term accumulation of wear and tear.

Seems like you would need to consider the freak/random injuries such as a broken finger from being hit by a pitch as injuries of “opportunity” while perhaps stress fractures or muscle and joint injuries (tears, strains) could be bucketed in the “accumulation” category? Then we could run a whole bunch of numbers and see what sort of sequences led to the accumulation injuries (ex: the 8th game played in a 9 day stretch with 0 days off)? Sounds like fun.

Now I need to find a way to get my work to approve this project….

Shingos Cheeseburgers

It’s a good thing the ALC is going to be a rock fight because the only way to enjoy the Sox is while stoned


Unfortunately these days I’m only high on life.

Sometimes I fall asleep watching the last innings. Aging is making me tolerate the White Sox more.


Were you the guy at the stadium Jason Benetti was talking about, wearing one piece of White Sox clothing and one piece of Blue Jays clothing?

As Cirensica

I wish. I am at work, but I do generally go to Rogers Centre with a Bluejays attire, and a White Sox cap.


I guess Vaughn is healthy enough to play, but they are keeping him fresh by batting him 7th.


I went and looked at Manoah’s splits and RH OBP at home is .189, 122 points under LH, so I get it. Give his bat a chance, but he’s behind the 8 ball against Manoah.


There’s a larger philosophical argument for whether it’s best to play to your opponents weakness or to your own strengths. But there’s also the common sense that DHing a second catcher is risky. DHing that second catcher when there are two far superior offensive performers in the bench is just stupid, regardless of handedness.

Torpedo Jones

Bingo. Vaughn should be getting the at-bats right now, plain and simple.

As Cirensica

I am waiting for a key at-bat in the 9th with McGuire at the plate and a LH pitcher throwing. TLR playing his 3 dimensional chess will leave the White Sox without a DH.


That’s not as much of an issue today since McGuire IS the DH. Pinch hitting for him wouldn’t cost them the DH like it did on Sunday.

As Cirensica

Oh yeah… I was actually thinking about that. You are right. Weird line up though.


Especially if you don’t have a third catcher. If the Sox had planned to DH Grandal a fair bit this year, they should be carrying another major league quality catcher and Sheets should be playing for Charlotte.


I had the same thought. Two solid reasons not to do that, and yet Tony did it.


I think after Vaughn’s performance against Gausman, he should be batting high in the order regardless of who is on the mound.


These last 3 seasons were anomalies in terms of playing full seasons, starting on time, etc so more injuries are to be expected. I don’t believe the Sox have been significantly worse than other teams in terms of games lost to injury, but the quality has been awful as it’s impacted their most critical players. This has exposed a lack of organizational depth that Jim wrote about the other day.