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.
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.
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.”