Doubling the 2023 White Sox’s numbers at the halfway point

White Sox pitcher Aaron Bummer
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

The mathematical first half ended in a pretty fitting fashion for the 2023 White Sox. They lost to the Angels on Tuesday night, but it was a close one. They walked way too many guys, and Pedro Grifol emptied out his bench way too early, requiring defensive replacements to hit for themselves in clutch situations in the final inning.

Updating the chart from last year, the White Sox have still played at a 90-win pace in just two of 20 half-seasons since Rick Hahn took over as GM. The update is that the White Sox have now played at a 90-loss pace in eight of 20 half-seasons since Rick Hahn took over as GM. The 90-win halves are in bold, the 90-loss ones in italics.

  • 2013: 33-48, 30-51
  • 2014: 37-44, 36-45
  • 2015: 37-44, 39-42
  • 2016: 41-40, 37-44
  • 2017: 36-45, 31-50
  • 2018: 28-53, 34-47
  • 2019: 39-42, 33-47
  • 2020: 35-25
  • 2021: 49-32, 44-37
  • 2022: 39-42, 42-39
  • 2023: 34-47

Going back to Tuesday night, the White Sox staged a rally down three in the ninth when Eloy Jiménez doubled and Andrew Vaughn singled him home. Keeping the inning alive was a task handed to a 29-year-old rookie, followed by guys with OBPs of .271, .183 and .276. Two were starters, and two were defensive subs who never should’ve been called upon. It’s not good that you can’t tell them apart from their performances.

And it almost worked. In the sense that the 2023 White Sox almost work. They almost always almost work, which is the kindest, sweetest, most grandmotherly way to say something is broken.

White Sox Position Players

NameGPAR2B3BHRRBISB/CSBBKBAOBPSLGOPS+bWAR
Yasmani Grandal1304643222012380/03292.263.319.399960.0
Andrew Vaughn1586587238224920/054122.241.322.4361061.0
Elvis Andrus1204363412043412/63478.200.276.26250-1.6
Tim Anderson1124744218002216/22494.232.270.27250-2.4
Yoán Moncada76294341626262/01478.232.279.370770.0
Andrew Benintendi1526207040223818/24892.281.343.370971.6
Luis Robert Jr.15664610440044868/232192.269.324.5611377.2
Gavin Sheets122370348016480/03868.232.308.402940.0
Eloy Jiménez964084422018600/026102.258.304.4581060.4
Seby Zavala9423018208222/01092.148.183.26922-1.0
Jake Burger1244425620234742/222150.221.271.5291131.4
Romy González88194228462814/0472.194.208.37656-0.8
Clint Frazier581401622048/22042.183.300.23350-0.4
Oscar Colás5016816402144/21040.211.265.27650-1.8
Lenyn Sosa 44140860260/0232.132.145.221-1-1.4
Totals60046482721418463494/203861400.234.291.389

Takeaways

No. 1: The White Sox are on pace for -4 WAR from their keystone combination. FanGraphs says they’re getting the league’s worst production at second base, and the second-worst production at shortstop. They’re also getting the league’s worst production from right field because White Sox problems don’t solve themselves.

No. 2: Speaking of which, at this pace, the White Sox’s three lowest walk totals over 162-game seasons will have all come in the last four 162-game seasons:

  1. 2019: 378
  2. 2023: 386 (projected)
  3. 2022: 388
  4. 1968: 397
  5. 1980: 399

No. 3: Andrew Benintendi is showing off the appeal of his high floor, as he’s found a way to make himself useful despite the disappointing start. He’s also showing off the problems with his low ceiling. He won’t produce enough to cover for shortcomings elsewhere, which is why he was a curious way to spend a franchise-record amount of money.

No. 4: Andrew Vaughn’s OPS+ is 106. Lyle Overbay’s career OPS+ is 106.

No. 5: Luis Robert Jr. is on pace for the first 7 WAR season by a White Sox position player since Albert Belle in 1998. Belle was only worth 7.1 WAR despite setting franchise records for homers, doubles and BIs because 1) the entire run-scoring environment was wack, and 2) his defense in left field would fit somewhere in the Melky Cabrera-to-Andrew Vaughn spectrum.

White Sox Pitchers

NameW-LERAGGSSVIPHR/ERHRBBKERA+bWAR
Lucas Giolito10-103.4132320184.216478/7028581981284.6
Dylan Cease6-64.0434340182.215892/8222782201083.0
Lance Lynn8-166.4032320180200138/128386821868-1.8
Michael Kopech6-144.083232017213678/7834981941073.4
Mike Clevinger6-83.8824240125.111854/5418521061133.2
Gregory Santos4-02.607000807826/24218781622.2
Reynaldo López4-105.297208685642/4014348283-0.2
Kendall Graveman6-62.706801266.23824/20832621631.8
Keynan Middleton2-02.335804544014/14620721891.8
Joe Kelly2-63.965202504228/22414641110.0
Aaron Bummer4-26.586600524838/380326467-0.6
Tanner Banks0-44.501640363418/186834980.6
Jesse Scholtens2-42.31182246.23414/12218261911.8
Garrett Crochet0-23.602000202010/8222181250.2
Totals68-944.43301433.11296774/7062166381552

Takeaways

No. 1: If Michael Kopech and Mike Clevinger didn’t end their first halves with great uncertainty about what the next three months have in store, the rotation would be in acceptable shape, with four 3 WAR pitchers, and the other one absorbing innings if nothing else.

No. 2: If somebody told you before the season that Gregory Santos, Keynan Middleton and Jesse Scholtens would all round to 2 WAR out of the bullpen, you’d probably think the White Sox would be in excellent shape. I’d probably say, “This is why the Sox should’ve directed the money they invested in the bullpen toward the offense,” because Sox Machine is built different.

No. 3: Aaron Bummer is why I use bWAR instead of fWAR for pitchers with this exercise. FanGraphs says he’s on pace for a 1.4 WAR season, but nobody watching Aaron Bummer during the first half would say, “Keep up the good work, Aaron Bummer!” As Monday night showed, he falters in ways that are as esoteric as they are reliable.

No. 4: Nice rebound for Lucas Giolito. I’m kinda rooting for him to go 6-4 in the second half so he finishes with his third consecutive season of 11-9. It’s not Khris Davis batting .247 four seasons in a row, but it’s something.

No. 5: It’s been 20 years since 12 saves would be enough to lead the White Sox, which was the case in 2002 and 2003. You may remember that as the year that Jerry Manuel gave up on Keith Foulke prematurely, and the general disgruntlement led them to trade Foulke to Oakland for Billy Koch. 2002 was Hahn’s first year with the White Sox.

Author

  • 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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Josh Nelson

Thank you for point 4 under the position players

Augusto Barojas

7 of the 15 position players listed with negative WAR. The total of all 15 projects to +2.2. Robert the only guy on pace to have a WAR over 2. Just wow.

This season is the fruit of making not one meaningful positive move in 3 offseasons. The ownership/front office did not even try. When they do blow up this team, it won’t be soon enough.

joewho112

For offensive takeaway 1, this is one of the most frustrating things about the White Sox. Everyone and their brother knew the White Sox needed to fill holes at 2B and RF. And here we are halfway through the season with the worst 2B and RF. Those levels of performance should be reserved for teams who had terrible injury luck or are tanking/rebuilding.

FishSox

This goes to the mounting evidence that Grifol is an idiot. He keeps trotting the same failing players out to fail again. His idea of a shakeup is moving TA from lead off to 2. Seriously, WTF?

It’s apparent that Grifol believes he can capture the clubhouse by catering to the idiosyncrasies of individuals and what he perceives as their fragile egos. I.E. starting TA for the third night in a row tonight at SS. What he fails to realize, is that he would get the respect of the clubhouse by ignoring those impulses and instead making a move that looks like you are putting winning and the team above individuals.

He has become a galactic failure and shows no signs of redemption.

Foulkelore

Yep, and if they had solutions for 2B and RF, it would help them absorb unexpected pitfalls, such as Tim having the season he’s having.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

Doubling the numbers. 1/2 turd plus another 1/2 turd = 1 turd.

NDSox12

I assume that Colas 122 OPS+ is a typo. So only three above average hitters on the roster. Yikes.

EDIT: Looks like several of the OPS+ figures are out of whack.

Last edited 11 months ago by NDSox12
Alfornia Jones

The pitching (like the last two years) has held up for the most part. Pedro could be a lot better in sequencing the relief pitching, but the bullpen does have to cover 4 innings every night so there’s no hiding anyone. They probably need to use a Banks/Sholtens/Touissant game every sixth day to get to the finish line. Outside of April, the Sox would probably be in first place if the starting pitching didn’t shit the bed all month. Bummer has no business being used as a loogy or anywhere after the 7th inning. Ricky would regularly give him clean innings, and he would usually go 2. Make him an opener or give him the 5th-6th of Kopech’s starts.

The offense is unspeakable. Outside of Robert, they have been wrong on every move and counter move, and the lack of organizational philosophy is coming home to roost. Their only identity is that lineup wide they grab a bat and swing at virtually every pitch, whatever happens happens. Even hitters with a previous history get inflicted. The fact no one has been traded yet probably means Hahn is in the penalty box, and is stuck with this team until his demise. No one with any brains or self respect would ever take this FO job, help is not on the way.

Joist

I agree with everything you wrote. Jim and Josh have been doing a wonderful job for years breaking down the issues with Hahn’s roster construction. Jim was talking this week about how if you have a Luis Robert, you need to have other guys with complementary skills to his (e.g., can work counts and get on base). Benintendi has been doing that, but the rest of the Sox are just inferior versions of the Robert archetype.

I looked back at the 2019 draft, and boy would Riley Greene (2 picks after Vaughn) look good on this team. But nope, we had to get another lumbering 1B/DH who’s barely above replacement level.

Last edited 11 months ago by Joist
Augusto Barojas

Heading into that draft, Vaughn was the guy I wanted. I thought he would be a stud hitter with power, his college numbers were really outstanding. I think he was a solid pick actually. He is on a team with one of the weirdest and worst vibes possible, and might be doing a lot better on a team with much better coaches, energy, and people around him. It is rare that a Sox pick over achieves.

I still have hope for Vaughn longer term. If they traded him he might improve a lot, as if by magic.

Joist

This is all true. I also remember the top 3 being more or less set in stone, and Vaughn was clearly the best player available. Not to mention, at the time, Abreu’s days were numbered, Sheets and Burger weren’t looking like major league prospects, and Eloy was still viewed as an outfielder. But in hindsight…ugh.

Of all the organizational shortcomings, the most damaging/severe one is probably player development. I’m sure Vaughn would be putting up 5-WAR seasons by now with Tampa or the Dodgers or whatever.

Right Size Wrong Shape

There were a number of us who wanted CJ Abrams.

JimMargalusBiggestFan

That is the point that people miss.

How many players exit the White Sox farm system better than how they entered it?

Vaughn barely played in Winston Salem and Birmingham before he was thrust into the big leagues to play a foreign position.

Good organizations would have been tweaking Vaughn’s swing in the minor leagues to get more lift on the ball. The White Sox were trying that after his first full season in the big leagues. That rarely works.

Good organizations would have been working with Vaughn in the minor leagues to lay off breaking pitches in the dirt.

If you could believe it, Andrew Vaughn didn’t develop enough in his 246 minor league plate appearances.

Not every player can be John Olerud.

He’s not a bust, as much as he is a player that hasn’t developed since he was drafted. Who’s fault is that?

Augusto Barojas

It’s quite early, not even July 1 yet. No trades around the league have gone down. I don’t think the fact that nobody has been traded yet means anything. Surely the prospect of saving 2 months of salary for Gio, Lynn, Grandal will make Jerry inclined to white flag it. With this hopeless roster it makes sense.

I don’t think they are that likely to trade before allstar break. But immediately after, I think a good bet that there will be trades well in advance of the deadline. I hope I’m wrong and it starts sooner than later.

As Cirensica

Pedro could be a lot better in sequencing the relief pitching

There is so much Pedro could be a lot better that you can delete everything after ‘better’ and it is 100% accurate. I hope he is gone after the year is over. I can’t stand his bullpen management and his line up tinkering and players usage in late innings has been catastrophic.

bobsquad

This isn’t a blanket defense of Pedro, but his bullpen management has improved significantly since the beginning of the season.

Bullpen WPA
Mar-Apr -3.44 (29th)
May-Jun +2.20 (6th)

Grifol doesn’t come off as particularly stubborn as far as managers go, and having really only one consistent high-leverage option (Graveman) means he isn’t given any room to ease into habit even if he was so inclined. I have faith that he is learning.

FishSox

I disagree with your blanket statement that he is learning. I appreciate your bullpen evidence but as far as lineups/batting order go, he appears to have feet of clay.

ParisSox

I’m beginning to think Rick Hahn might not be good at his job.

ForsterFTOG

Depends on what the owner defines as success.

StockroomSnail

This comment, unlike Rick Hahn’s tenure, will not age terribly.

GrinnellSteve

I think I’d rather see them play it out with this roster.

1) Maybe just maybe a few guys catch fire and they get in the playoffs. I reject the idea that they would then be unceremoniously dumped. In a short series anything can happen, It would serve baseball right if the 80-82 Sox won the World Series.

2) Far more likely this team will continue to embarrass, attendance and viewership and interest will continue to decline, and Jerry will lose money (or further diminish his profits). At that point he HAS to make changes, doesn’t he? It’s one thing to win 74 games when payroll is stripped back and there are no expectations. It’s quite another to compound last year’s disappointment with this year’s debacle, all while running out the 2 highest payrolls ever.

I’d rather have a draft pick for Giolito (if that’s still a thing in the CBA) with the possibility some new brain trust is making the selection than have Hahn making the deal and saving Jerry money. I want this front office neutered (figuratively AND literally), unable to make any significant moves. I further want Jerry to bleed money for the rest of the season. It’s the best chance of forcing change.

Joliet Orange Sox

I thought the new CBA somehow made compensation for free agents dependent on the players/owners agreeing to an international draft. Can someone who actually knows provide the real answer about free agent compensation draft picks?

IIRC, if they could come to an agreement about an international draft then the QO would have gone away, but they never agreed to it, so the QO remains.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

I don’t think anyone suggesting that this team might actually win the WS should be allowed to drive.

GrinnellSteve

In the unlikely event that the Sox make the playoffs, they absolutely could win it all. That, too, would be extremely unlikely, but to deny the possibility exists is indefensible.

The A’s, possibly the worst team of my 66-year-old lifetime, won 7 in a row against Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and Tampa. In a game or a series, anything can happen.

I don’t expect the Sox to win the division or win the World Series if they do, but if the first were to happen, the second could follow.

Matt

So the White Sox arent that good huh? Crazy how many “prognosticators” were down on the team going into the season despite the GM saying “Member when everyone thought we were going to be good?” as a reason to do nothing but sign Benintendi and SP5. Guess we cant rule out the great communicators/prepared coaches hired to replace TLR, since that has worked out well. On the bright side, we fans all should keep in mind, our caring, dare I say bold, owner believes you can finish 4th and have a good season. So guess thats something to look forward to…

kingkellly

Feels like we are right back in 2015-2016. A few excellent players surrounded by absolute black holes in the line up that cap the team’s ceiling at around .500. I feel like Hahn saw the Royals success from that era and decided a dominate bullpen could paper over a less than overpowering lineup and made that his template for the rebuild.

And now we look to be at the end of another competitive window burdened by the same problem of a top heavy team with no depth and truly abysmal production from some positions. The compulsive throwing of scare resources into the bullpen for almost no marginal gains should be taught as a case study in Bad GMing 101. Resource allocation doomed this White Sox team and while the bullpen isn’t the sole guilty party, it’s a large part of the problem

As Cirensica

We are indeed back in time but in a much worse situation. Fewer trade chips and an abysmally bad farm.

dwjm3

One thing is for certain we are on the verge of another rebuild. If Jerry is dumb enough to let Hahn be the architect of it the stadium better be a ghost town. I’m talking 8k fans a game Okland Athletics style.

ForsterFTOG

Even less for the parade.

BuehrleMan

Fewer.

ForsterFTOG

Noted.

BuehrleMan

Ha. Nothing personal. Something about the White Sox just makes me want to say “fewer”.

As Cirensica

I thought it was a SSS thing, but I can’t remember the origin of it.

BuehrleMan

It was definitely an SSS thing. It lasted a good long time but as with SSS it’s essentially gone now for most people. Except me. I don’t give up that easily. You can pry my ‘fewer’ from my cold, dead hands.

Augusto Barojas

I think the fact that Hahn got relievers instead of position players is largely money driven, personally. You can’t get good position players without expensive, multi year deals. It’s not like they could have taken what they paid Kelly, Graveman, etc and turned it into Semien. They gave Kelly two years and Graveman 3. Semien got 7 years for 175M, 100M more than Jerry has ever given to a single player. That’s the mysterious “why” Hahn seemed to prioritize the bullpen. Josh Harrison was the best 1-2 year 2b he could find, it’s not like there are good players that were viable alternatives who would have signed 1-2 year deals.

I despise Hahn, but the resource misallocation that people refer to is mostly Jerry’s aversion to signing long term deals. Replace Kelly, Garcia, etc with other short term, low quality players that happen to be hitters rather than relievers, and the song remains the same. They needed two 9 figure deals, on high quality players like Semien, and instead paid Benintendi less than half of what the Cubs gave Lester a decade ago. Just shameless cheapness, much more than Hahn’s ineptitude. Surely he would have been smart enough to know that Semien or Harper could have helped more than how he was forced to operate.

kingkellly

190 million budget isn’t that big of a handicap. Wasting 100 million of that for 0 WAR in return is.

Augusto Barojas

It’s easy to cite players like Semien or Harper that would have made them enormously better, and how 25M on an annualized basis for either would have been much better spent on them than a bunch of crappy players like Kelly, Garcia, Harrison, Velasquez. But it’s not easy to cite other players on piddly short term deals that Hahn could have actually gotten, that would have been what this team needed. I can’t think of anybody on a 1-2 year deal that would have been great or even good for this team. Most 1-2 year deals are for players that aren’t all that good in the first place. 190M is meaningless if you are constrained in the way Hahn was, and fobidden from signing the specific players that were their real needs, all of whom signed 9 figure contracts.

Jerry “wanted” to win, without making any commitment, or taking any risk whatsoever. It doesn’t work that way.

kingkellly

But that’s where drafting and developing come in. Its not just signing guys to 100 million dollar contracts. It’s developing competent ML players like all the franchises who’ve built contenders with much smaller budgets have done.

As Cirensica

I think he gets relievers because he is a coward. Position players make more of a splash, and exposes Hahn’s lack of baseball acumen if (when) he gets them wrong. A reliever “failure” is easier to hide.

Augusto Barojas

In terms of specific players, I just can’t think of anybody Hahn could have actually gotten under the constraints of small contract size that would have been helpful, honestly. You have to rule out the Semiens and Harpers of the world, and the rest are largely low ceiling guys like Harrison, Eaton. I mean he could have gotten Joc Pederson I suppose, but he hasn’t posted a WAR over 2 since 2019. He would undoubtedly be better than Eaton or what they have now for RF, but still that’s just not a high quality enough player to improve them more than marginally. The players that would have made this team truly better are off limits to Hahn, which pretty much means only half ass improvements, at best.

BenwithVen

This is where I lean. Those Milken Institute(lol) quotes really highlight how much Jerry despises how modern baseball orgs are run from an economic/business standpoint.

of course you could argue that a better GM would have better results with what they’re given, but in the end, all roads lead to Jerry.

FishSox

“…but in the end, all roads lead to Jerry.”

I think that should have ended with a comma and then, but he doesn’t give a rats ass anymore.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Reply fial.

Last edited 11 months ago by Right Size Wrong Shape
To Err is Herrmann

Is there such a thing as a junta of incompetents? I could see Rick, Ken and Jerry taking over a small thriving country and driving it into collapse within 5 years.

Foulkelore

I sure remember takeaway number 5.

StockroomSnail

Every time you look at the Sox closely from nearly any angle, they manage to awe you with their badness.

Not you, Robert.

steelydan52

If these stats for the whole season become real…………Wow.
Vaughn’s power numbers are pretty close to what I would have expected. His batting average and OBP are not.
Robert hitting 44 HR’s with only 86 RBI’s is odd but it speaks to the hitters in front. His BA and OBP also lack. Add 20 points to those 2 stats and I’m good.
Burger, who I like, hitting 34 HR’s with 74 RBI’s is good but his BA and OBP suck.
I’ve never cared for power hitters who are all or nothing unless you have a bunch of good hitters in the lineup. Looking at the stats and watching some of their games, the Sox do NOT have a bunch of good hitters.
Me thinks my prediction of a 90 win season or more is failing miserably. They would have to go 55-25 the rest of the way. Impossible? Hell yes. I’m not that stupid. In their division an 81-81 record might have a chance so that ends up they have to go 46-34 the rest of the way. That can be done but I doubt it. Bring on the Bears and Blackhawks!

steelydan52

I forgot to add how much I loved Steve Cohen of the Mets giving the press conference he did about his dreaded team. I would love to see JR do that but that’s a pipe dream.