So, you’ve decided to become a White Sox fan …

Welcome, friend: Sitaspell. Take your shoes off. Let’s learn how to root for the White Sox … together.


Congratulations on taking the first step towards what might be a long and arduous journey through our humble fandom! Or maybe you’ll only be with us for a short time. Hey, this guide isn’t here to judge.

That’s your decision; this is, after all, at-will employment. 

Allow me to introduce myself; I’m a hereditary White Sox fan, and if you’ve seen that movie, having the fan run through your family can certainly feel like you’ve inherited something sinister. Due to budget cuts, I am both the resident IT person and HR generalist of the White Sox fandom. I’ll email you a link with your email and password, and make sure it’s a secure one, (nothing obvious like IL0v3Y@sm@niGr@nd@l!), but we’ll figure all that out at the end of this orientation. 

Whatever length your tenure figures to be with our beloved South Siders, this guide is here to serve as your New Fan Orientation packet, and to let you know what exactly you are getting yourself into.

So sit back, relax, and strap it down. And on behalf of everyone at South Side Hit Pen, home of innovative crowdfunded grassroots coverage of your new favorite team, welcome to the madness that is White Sox baseball!


Why are you here?

Let’s get this one out of the way: Let the homers call you a bandwagoner in the pejorative. Fandom is a choice, it’s not something that’s earned. Even if you’re like me, where your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, third cousin once removed or whatever, cheered for one team, truthfully, you’re still free to cheer for another. 

Casual, intermediate, advanced. We welcome all levels of fan. You can name only one or two players? Have the birth charts of the whole pitching staff saved on your phone? (By the way, oddly enough, stacked with Capricorns.) Got Baseball-Reference bookmarked so you can fire off stats on some plebeian who thinks Yasmani Grandal can’t be a leadoff hitter because his batting average was .170 batting first? 

The only gatekeeping at Sox Park you’ll see is performed by the security guard who wouldn’t let me in with a sealed bottle of vitamin water a few years back.

Maybe you’re here because your favorite player was acquired in a gustatory offseason free agent signing.

(We see you, Brewers fans.) 

Or perhaps you found yourself telling your friends and family that while you and your team love each other very much, that you’re taking a much-needed break and have decided to see other teams.

We see you … Astros fans? (Hey, again, no judgments here.) 

Or you maybe you are a recovering Cubs fan, upset at how the R*cketts family is spending their money, namely, not on players. We see you, too.

Let’s not forget those who are new to baseball altogether; perhaps you are finally buying into the hype via your friends, who won’t shut up about 108-ing, legend statue selfies, five-inning complete game shutouts, bat flips, or some guy who just seems to like to say hi to his own mom. 

You are seen. 

No one else can tell you how to fan but you, and we embrace that philosophy here on the South Side.

It all boils down to this: you cheer for the White Sox? We do, too. We have so much in common already!


The basics: Who’s Who

Screenshot 2020-02-21 at 9.53.00 PM

Rick Hahn

Our fearless GM, who makes calls and starts moves, namely as soon as he’s able to, the day after the World Series. Rick was first out of the gates and acquired the likes of Yasmani Grandal when other GMs were sleeping off their hangovers, and gifted Dallas Keuchel and Edwin Encarnación to the fandom right before December 25. 

Ricky Renteria 

The man making the lineups. Though he was the subject of scrutiny for being very experimental with the batting order last season, Ricky’s approval rating is high — especially now that he should have plenty of offensive flexibility with this offseason’s acquisitions. (We acquired a switch-hitting catcher who draws walks? Incredible!) Not to mention through testimonial, Ricky’s personable, positive, and respected by his players — a proven leader. 

Jason Benetti and Steve Stone 

We’re blessed by the baseball gods to have this dynamic announcing duo — Benetti, especially, is a gift with his wry insight and humor. Also, #SoxMath anyone? Steve Stone is the perfect comedic foil to Benetti, especially if you follow either of them on Twitter.

Southpaw

The fuzzy green dude is the working class hero we’ve been needing. Whether he’s at your wedding, corporate event, or goofing off with your kids at a game, Southpaw’s always down to entertain. But … why isn’t he left-handed?

Some other good names to know

Nick Madrigal, our hopeful second baseman on Opening Day.
Michael Kopech, a top prospect who just shaved his head for charity.
Luis Robert, a center fielder whom you’ve probably seen hit some sort of ridiculous home run video on social media.

These guys are the future of the organization, and we’re so excited to see them in 2020. 


The basics: What’s What

Screenshot 2020-02-21 at 9.55.22 PM

The 2005 World Series 

Yeah, it happened. 

So much magic. Scott Podsednik with the walk-off homer — his second postseason homer —  in Game 2, despite hitting no home runs during the 2005 season. Small ball, long ball, the 2005 White Sox did it all. A powerful lineup that hit 200 home runs in the regular season. A ridiculous starting rotation including Jose Contreras, Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Freddy García. Heck, the pitching staff’s entire ERA was 2.63. 

The legacy of 2005 is still felt to this day. Manager Ozzie Guillén continues to offer, um, insight from time to time. Every White Sox dad has that one jacket with the cream leather sleeves, the ’05 World Series patch on the sleeve. Any given bar on the South Side has that one neon World Series Champs Miller Lite sign, and chances are it’s rarely been turned off since.

108ing

What exactly is 108ing? Chances are, you’ve done it already. Not limited to the confines of the scenic view of the right field foul pole, any given time is probably an appropriate time for a beverage. On your way to a court appearance for a parking ticket? (Probably not then, honestly. HR is not responsible for any 108-related citations.) Waiting for medical test results? Generally thinking about the insurmountable weight of human existence? Time to 108. 

Tailgating

Sox Park is surrounded by vast parking lots, ideal for the ancient tradition of consuming self-prepared food and assorted beverages out the backside of your vehicle. 

STICK TALK!

Tim Anderson is changing the game, namely by unapologetically being himself and not giving a rat’s ass about whose feathers are ruffled by his incredulous bat flips. Timmy’s about having fun playing baseball, not this AcT liKe YoU’ve BeEn tHeRe bEfoRe crap. We love him so much that we built a whole-ass marketing campaign around the reigning AL batting champ.

Food

Sox Park (anyone calling it Guaranteed Rate Field is doing that because they have some legal obligation to) is home to some of the best ballpark food you’ll find. Anyway: fries topped with gyro fixins or buffalo chicken, helmet nachos, elotes, churros, an entire goddamn BBQ loaded baked potato. We’ve got it all. Come hungry; you will eat well at the ballpark.

Admit it: you’d buy this candle

A final note

With spring training just getting underway, there’s so much excitement in the fandom that hasn’t been seen in years. PECOTA? We don’t know her. The White Sox are projected to win 80-something games, but from the early player interviews, it sounds like winning is, well, a priority; the rebuild is complete.

However you choose to ride with us, you’ve made the decision to do so, since the other option was to, well, get run over. 

At any other orientation, an HR person would have you fill out a few forms, present a form of identification, maybe a check to jump-start your direct deposit, so you’d get paid.

As a White Sox fan, remember, you will pay. We’re not sure how yet, but you’ll certainly pay. 

AL Central Big 3: The intangibles

Hammer down: Ricky Renteria, seen here with batting champ Tm Anderson, is looking for some team hardware of his own in 2020. (@WhiteSox)


It’s been quite the interesting offseason in the AL Central.

The White Sox have added a number of solid veterans to its young core, while also granting extensions for veteran slugger José Abreu and phenom outfielder Luis Robert. The Twins added Josh Donaldson to its already potent offense while adding rotation depth in the forms of Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey and Rich Hill. Cleveland, in the meantime, has basically maintained their status quo with the exception of trading pricey hurler Corey Kluber for reliever Emmanuel Clase and Delino DeShields Jr. as they hope to maintain their success by simply staying healthy.

Of course, based on last season, there’s quite a bit of separation among the three teams: The Twins are coming off a 101-61 season, Cleveland a 93-69 record, and the White Sox a 72-89 mark. But as there should unquestionably be some better bunching at the top this season (PECOTA projects 93, 86 and 82 wins, respectively), we’re ramping up to the start of Cactus League play with three looks at the Big 3 ball clubs, on offense, pitching and intangibles. 

This final piece will be less data-based and more analytical, as looking into the intangibles that could affect each team’s attempt at a division title.


Minnesota Twins

The Twins, after adding numerous pieces to a team that finished 78-84 in 2018, soared all the way to 101-61 last year. Many teams, after such an improvement, level off the following year in part because it took a bevy of career years to reach those unexpected heights.

Just ask the Chicago Bears. Remember them? The Bears, after undergoing a coaching change and seemingly adding to every position after a difficult 5-11 season in 2017, skyrocketed to 12-4 in 2018 before falling to 8-8 last year. While there are some similarities between the Twins and those Bears, the Twins likely won’t drop to .500 in 2020. This is in part because there’s no salary cap to hinder the addition of potential stars, and also because of the weakness of the bottom two teams in the AL Central (Kansas City and Detroit). While the Twins didn’t get that premier starter they were looking for via free agency, they did add Kenta Maeda and a couple aging, veteran starters who’ll pick up the slack for Michael Pineda (out due to suspension) and Rich Hill (out due to injury). Did I forget to add that they added slugging third baseman Josh Donaldson to their record-breaking lineup?

While the Twins obtained their vast improvement on the strength of many career years in 2019, the team should still be a force to be reckoned with. For one, they didn’t rest on their laurels, continuing to add more muscle into its lineup. From the moment he was first introduced as the new Twins manager in October 2019, Rocco Baldelli spoke earnestly about his emphasis on building relationships and creating a fun, comfortable clubhouse environment to empower his players, and those elements laid a strong foundation for his collaboration with his staff and team executives as the 38-year-old skipper learned on the job in his first season at the helm. He’s employed a sabermetric approach that did nothing but aid his young offense, and it’s clear that his players love playing for him. Of course, over time, players may eventually take advantage of his good nature — but don’t expect that to happen right away.

What will happen if the Twins find themselves struggling for a divisional title in 2020? The Twins strike me, based upon their acquisitions via trade and free agency, as a team that would certainly consider trading some of their higher-end prospects to fill holes — holes built into their pitching staff, or created by injuries. Royce Lewis, the first pick in the 2017 draft, is just one such player who could be an attractive commodity despite hitting just .236 in Double-A last year; he’s currently ranked ninth by MLB Pipeline among all prospects and is just 20 years old.

While the Twins may have some prospects who’ll contribute to the squad this year (Lewis Thorpe), many won’t be expected to be key contributors for 2020 and could potentially be considered for trade: Alex Kiriloff, Trevor Larnach, Jordan Balazovic and Nick Gordon are just a few of the team’s prized prospects who could help the Twins add key contributors for their playoff run if need be. The Twins have a Top 10 system, and that’s even after the departure of flamethrower Brusdar Graterol. 


Cleveland

Despite a 93-69 season last year which actually eclipsed its division-winning record of 91-71 the year before, Cleveland seems to be entering a period of decline driven by financial concerns. The team has been rock-solid over the past four years, averaging 95 wins and winning three divisional titles and a league pennant. However, Cleveland’s best pitcher during that stretch (Corey Kluber) was dumped off traded to the Texas Rangers for a reliever and a backup outfielder, and more such miserly moves seem inevitable.

But even though Cleveland may be at the beginning stages of a decline, that doesn’t mean it should be disregarded as a divisional competitor. In fact, they still have the best pitching staff in the division while possessing several outstanding bats including Francisco Lindor, José Ramírez, Carlos Santana and Franmil Reyes. If everything goes well for this team, they could easily put together another 90-win season.     

The team is managed by two-time AL Manager of the Year Terry Francona, who has won an impressive 1,667 games during his 19-year tenure with the Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox and Indians. He’s won three pennants and two World Series titles during that span, and it would have been three championships if he hadn’t discovered a way to over-manage the over-managing Joe Maddon in 2016. Francona’s always found ways to win with above-average talent, and players generally enjoy playing for him. It’s difficult to find managers with a more impressive track record. 

But Cleveland does appear to be on the beginning stages of decline, not unlike what the Cubs endured last year. It’s not to say the team is bad — the Tribe still has numerous offensive and pitching weapons at their disposal, along with a venerable manager. Trade rumors regarding Lindor dominated the headlines this offseason, but none came to fruition. Expect those rumors to multiply for Lindor, as well as Carlos Santana and Ramírez, if the Indians get off to a disappointing start. Sometimes, those rumors take a life of their own and distract the players to perform at less-than-optimal values. Fortunately for Cleveland, Francona should be able to help the team avoid such distractions.

The Indians, unlike the Twins, seem unlikely to add significant talent if the team needs additional help at the trade deadline. Aside from the acquisitions of second baseman Cesar Hernandez and Domingo Santana, Cleveland really didn’t add to their team (OK, Emmanuel Clase came via the Kluber trade). There is some talent in the pipeline available for trade, such as third baseman Nolan Jones and Triston McKenzie, in addition to recent draft choices like Daniel Espino, Ethan Hankins and Bo Naylor. However, with Cleveland crying poor, it would be counterintuitive to swap away cheaper young talent in a postseason push.   


Chicago White Sox

The White Sox, as most fans know, have undergone an 11-year playoff drought since last appearing in the postseason in 2008. Now, after a massive rebuild which began in 2016 with the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, the team now appears to be on the precipice of long-term pennant contention. Youth, and productive youth at that, seems ready to blossom in 2020. Thanks to recent free-agent acquisitions such as Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Gio González and Edwin Encarnación, the team has now added veteran leadership to a young core of Eloy Jiménez, Yoán Moncada, Tim Anderson, Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease. If this young team can gel at the same time, it could easily contend for the divisional title; if not, there should still be enough talent to succeed in 2021 and beyond.

Ricky Renteria, with a career record of 274-373, has by far the worst winning percentage among these three managers. To be fair, he’s really only been given rebuilding teams to work with. Renteria, because of his coaching style that his players enjoy, seems up to the task in perhaps his most pressure-packed role to date. He’s always been considered the type of manager who could take his team from Point A to Point B thanks to his teaching abilities and patience; however, as highlighted by the Cubs’ willingness to fire him in favor of Joe Maddon, he’s been perceived as a manager who isn’t suited for taking a squad from Point B to Point C. While Renteria’s willingness to bunt has been well publicized, it will be extremely interesting to see how he manages a team with such a unique combination of youngsters and seasoned veterans. If he somehow steers this team to a divisional title he could easily be Manager of the Year. If the team struggles to even attain .500, however, questions will only increase regarding his ability to make a good team better.

The White Sox also may be willing to strike a trade to improve their team during their trade deadline by swapping minor leaguers, but there’s a catch. Three of their top four prospects (Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal and Michael Kopech) will likely be key contributors in the majors by the deadline, which means that all the White Sox will be able to offer are Andrew Vaughn, Jonathan Stiever, players who struggled in Double-A last year, and players who missed much time due to significant injuries in 2019. If most of these players rebound and post great starts to 2020, the White Sox would indeed have the talent to offer in a megadeal to improve the team at the major league level.

One more caveat: it’s certainly possible that the team doesn’t relinquish much prospect capital at the trade deadline, for the reason being that the White Sox window of contention really doesn’t fly open until 2021. It certainly would be interesting to see what this team would do if dealt the “dilemma” of division title contention one year early!


              

 

     

Hitter’s Camp Day 3: Ricky Renteria

Grinding it out: Renteria took some time at Hitter’s Camp to weigh in on several of the youngest White Sox stars. (Chicago White Sox)


On Day 3 of Hitter’s Camp, White Sox TV caught up with manager Ricky Renteria for his thoughts on the impeccable grinder play of “Mendy” (Danny Mendick), Mendick’s status as a fan and organizational favorite, Zack Collins’ major improvements from his first to second stint in the majors, and Blake Rutherford growing into his body and becoming a professional hitter. 

Hitter’s Camp: Day 2, plus Ricky

Moving up together: Frank Menechino tutors ex-Knights pupil Nick Madrigal, who should soon join the hitting coach in Chicago. (Chicago White Sox)


Tuesday was Day 2 of Hitters’ Camp down in Glendale, and the White Sox were kind enough to provide more footage of the proceedings. 

First, a one-on-one with manager Ricky Renteria, who can hardly conceal his excitement over his club turning the corner. Come for the giddiness, stay for the “Gardy.”

 

 

 

 

 

And of course, we have some batting cage footage, including Andrew Vaughn, Nick Madrigal, Frank Menechino, Rick Hahn, Ricky Renteria and Blake Rutherford.

The best and blurst games of the 2019 White Sox

(Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)


This kicks off a mini-burst of bests and blursts this week at South Side Hit Pen. Today, Lenny G gets things going with his highly-entertaining look at his most and least favorite games of 2019.

Tomorrow, the rest of us take a stab at the best games of the year, and Wednesday presents the saddest chapter of this trilogy, the blurst of the year.

So, before the Hot Stove heats up and spring training looms, let’s join LG as he spins a little yarn about the best and worst blurst of the season!


“He’s your hero tonight … thanks Cubs!”

Oftentimes in sports, whenever a player returns to face an organization that traded him or her, it’s now referred as “[Insert Player’s Name] Revenge Game!”

And it makes sense right? One team, drafting you into their organization, grooming you, pouring millions of dollars into developing you so that one day you’ll bring glory and championships to their city … and then poof, you find out from your agent you’ve been shipped to Pittsburgh or Kansas City or … the South Side of Chicago. I mean, it’s literally a rejection of that player in the purest sense. Despite all that time and effort, they still think someone else is worth more to them than you. So yes, revenge must be a part of it. (To be fair, anybody and everyone seems to get a revenge game moniker nowadays … I mean, Bobby Freaking Portis got one for leading the bum-ass Knicks in a comeback against the Bulls …)

But if there ever was a textbook example of a Revenge Game, June 18, 2019, White Sox at Cubs in Wrigley Field is hands-down the best one I’ve seen in my 35 years on Earth.

But let’s set the scene. I’m not going to recap the trade and all the drama behind his non call-up the year before. All that you need to know was this was the first game that Eloy Jiménez played at Wrigley Field as a professional ballplayer. Now, had he played a few years as a Cub (shudder), then later showed on the White Sox, it probably would not have been as impactful, even if the results were exactly the same.

The game couldn’t have started more ominously for Eloy and the Sox. With the bases loaded and one out, Eloy came to the plate in his first ever at-bat at Wrigley. A grand slam would likely have caused mass suicides in the Cubs front office and the bleachers. But it wasn’t Eloy’s time yet, as the rook hit into an inning-ending double play.

Naturally, Iván Nova, a pitcher who never met a bat he didn’t want to make contact with, grooved the first pitch to Cubs leadoff hitter Kyle Schwarbabyer and gave up a leadoff home run. Ugh.

Fast forward to the ninth inning … you didn’t miss much. The White Sox had tied it in the sixth thanks to 2020 The Show cover boy Javier Baez, with Little Bam Bam’s Homer still the only run for the North Siders.

James McCann led off with a single, and up comes dat boi Eloy. Pedro Strop, the reason Theo decided to throw $45M at the dumpster fire that was Craig Kimbrel, threw a 1-0 fastball in on the hands of Eloy. Hands pulled in, the bat connected with the ball, the sound of the crack of the bat was clear even through the speakers of my television, and … well, let’s run that shit:

The BESS Returns!

Nothing. And I mean nothing, more important happened for the White Sox in 2019 than this moment. Right here. We had instant, indisputable proof that Eloy was and is THE GUY. In a big time moment, in the stadium of the team he originally signed with because he liked their fucking uniform colors, Eloy hit a ball 400-plus feet on a pitch that shattered his bat. Oh, man. I’d have to imagine that’s what sex feels like … (uh … wait … I mean, I know … um …)

Anyway, in the immortal words of Jason Benetti, “Thanks, Cubs!”


Colomé? More like Colom-F!”

OK, I may not be clever enough to come up with a better punchline, but with plenty of losses to pick from, I’m going with one that, fortunately, occurred at such a late hour most Sox fans would be asleep (I was not one of those fans … I need help). And that game was Sept. 14, 2019, White Sox at Mariners. (Author’s note: I completely forgot I actually did the game recap for this one, as Frasier-themed fan fiction!)

Why this game, you ask? Admittedly, there were worse games, like say. .. the game literally the next day. (But that was claimed by someone else, and you’ll read about it on Wednesday; luckily I didn’t have far to go to find this gem.)

Dylan Cease, for one of the rare occasions in his rookie season, did not immediately put the Sox in a multi-run hole early. Sure, he had his customary wildness, but five innings and one run given up is practically all one could ask of a Sox starter and be satisfied.

On the hill for Seattle was the used husk of Felix Hernandez. In his eventual swan song of a career in Seattle, King Felix had been routinely demolished in many of his starts in 2019. In the start prior against the Astros, he gave up 11 runs in two innings. So, even with the good chance Cease might’ve given up a few runs, surely the Sox would be able to beat up on this paper tiger right?

Noooooooope. Felix squeezed the last remaining drops of the emaciated Cy Young version of himself floating in a vat of green goo underneath Safeco Field T-Mobile Park and dominated the Sox, getting outs like the Felix of old. By game’s end, we were stuck at 1-1 and headed to the bottom of the 10th.

Sox closer Alex Colomé used his Cupid Shuffle of a delivery to rack up an amazingly improbable number of first half saves despite having the same strikeout ability as a one-armed blind man with vertigo. As the BABIP gods finally woke from their slumber, second half Colomé started to get hit a bit more than normal and his effectiveness ultimately faded down the stretch.

Two outs into the 10th, and up came Alex’s trade counterpart, the Narv Dog, Omar Narváez. A decent hitter with the Sox on a team-friendly contract, he found that life on the West Coast does wonders to your skill set (hello, Marcus Semien) and was somehow hitting bombs all over Puget Sound. So what would happen in this rare event involving a pitcher and catcher, traded for the other? Game on the line … (ummm) … facing the team that gave up on him … (oh no) … and one run wins the …

ITS THE SUPER-SECRET OMAR NARVÁEZ REVENGE GAME!!!!

Narvy laid into an 0-1 pitch from Colomé and sent it deep into right field. Daniel Palka (God bless that sweet boy, he just tries so hard …) went back to the wall but realized he’s not getting this one as it approaches the fence. The ball, well it had eyes for the seats in hopes of sending the home crowd happy, but … the ball hits on top of the wall and lands back on the warning track. In real time, it looked like it may have cleared the fence and ricocheted off a small barrier just behind the wall, which must be why the umpire twirled his little finger (I bet they love doing that) and signaled that the “home run” had ended the game.

BUT WAIT! Esteemed ceviche lover and part-time Sox manager Ricky Renteria went out to the umps and, with nothing to lose, asked for a review to make sure that ball went out. And, dear reader, I can say with no impartiality, that ball didn’t clear the wall! So, great! Slow-mo that tape down in New York, call the ground-rule double and let’s get the band off the field … we got more free baseba-

The umps took off their headsets. The finger twirled in the air. It is twirled for a second time. I was more sad and confused by a meaningless September Sox loss to a terrible Mariners team than I was a few minutes prior on the first home run call. And, until today, I always wondered why they stuck with that decision. Well … funny you should ask … while I was looking for a link to the walk-off, I found this from WGN that ran the following day: https://wgntv.com/2019/09/15/mlb-says-miscommunication-led-to-no-review-of-walk-off-in-white-sox-loss/

Here’s the supremely depressiing explanation which is just so, so Ricky (emphasis mine):

White Sox manager Rick Renteria said he immediately asked umpires to review the homer, and they then went to the headset used to communicate with replay officials.

When Renteria and the umpires reconvened, they asked if Renteria wanted to challenge whether Narváez had touched home plate amid his celebrating teammates. Renteria mistakenly thought this meant officials had ruled the ball cleared the fence and declined to challenge whether Narváez touched home, because he had already seen on replays that he had.

Associated Press
Guess which one I am?

Anywho, did this loss matter in the long run? Of course not. Teams with 89 losses are 0-for-forever in making the playoffs, so this one was not one to cry over. But … for the constraints given by this exercise, I’m marking this down as the Yonder Alonso of White Sox losses in 2019.

Thanks for reading! Oh and congrats to the Washington Nationals for winning the franchise’s first World Series! If they didn’t have someone from the Expos days at the parade give a speech in French, the win should be null and void….

White Sox: Final Report Card

Way back at the midway point of the season, we took a look at the White Sox from the standpoint of the whole versus the sum of the parts – that is, whether the Sox were getting value added from Ricky Renteria, et al.

Back then, the answer appeared to be “yes.” The Sox were 39-42, not only well above expectations and well above what run differential would suggest (351 runs scored vs. 420 allowed leads to 34-47 or 33-48, depending on whose measurement you use), but well above the some of the parts, as measured by WAR.

Aristotle anticipated advanced baseball stat possibilities.

At the 81-game mark, Baseball-Reference had Sox position players at 5.9 bWAR, several of them dragged down by terrible dWAR. B-R had pitchers at 5.5 bWAR, two-thirds from Lucas Giolito, and most of the staff below zero. FanGraphs had the position players at 5.5 fWAR (24th in MLB), pitchers at 5.1 (21st).

That’s 11.4 bWAR and 11.1 fWAR, very close. WAR in both cases equals 48 wins a season, or 24 at the midpoint, so by WAR, the Sox should have had 35 wins. That made the whole four wins more than the sum of the parts.

That made Ricky Renteria look pretty good, overbunting and batting Yonder Alonzo cleanup notwithstanding (I think Ricky kept Alonzo in the fourth slot just to troll the front office, which, if so, was quite clever and eventually worked).

Now, at season’s end, does the same “whole is better than the sum of its parts” thing apply?

Nah.

The Sox ended the season 72-89.5, saved from 90 losses by Mother Nature wiping out a game last Friday that they were losing. Thus, the break even on the whole and the parts would be at 24 WAR.

The final stats have position players at 13.5 bWAR, led by Yoán Moncada at 4.6, Tim Anderson at 4.0 and James McCann at 3.8. Of the regulars, only Yolmer Sánchez (+1.7), McCann (+1.4) and Adam Engel (+.5) were on the plus side defensively, with, as you’d expect, José Abreu and Eloy Jiménez dragging themselves way down with terrible fielding.

The non-pitchers fare worse under fWAR, coming in at a total of 10.9, more than half of that from Moncada alone. FanGraphs punishes Anderson more for his fielding (has anyone before ever led the majors in both batting average and errors?), and give McCann less credit for his.

On the pitching side, the numbers were closer, with bWAR at 11.8 and fWAR at 12.3. Giolito dominates, of course, at 5.6 and 5.1 respectively, but his numbers aren’t double where he’d been at the midpoint, not surprisingly, since he went from 11-2 to 14-9 and his ERA climbed .69.

So, in the end we have bWAR totaling 25.3, fWAR 23.3. One calls for 73 wins, one for 71, and because the actual number was 72:

The Law of Conservation of Mass strikes the White Sox.

In the final analysis, Renteria deserves neither credit nor blame for the White Sox performance. The real credit goes to the people who developed the various WARs, because it turns out they know their stuff.

As for the Pythagorean side, the probabilities based on run differential, with 708 runs scored (24th in MLB) and 832 allowed (22nd), the Sox should have been 69-92, but since Pythagoras has been dead for 2,500 years he couldn’t know that the White Sox liked to get blown out. Actually, that was mostly the case in the first half of the year, when in games decided by five or more runs the club went 8-16, while they were a more respectable 11-13 in the second half.

Pythagoras really knew his triangles, but in baseball he failed to account for really bad pitching.

The midpoint report card also looked at walks and strikeouts, and darned if the Sox didn’t get even worse at those in the second half, which helps explain why they went from three games under to 17.5. They’d been sixth in the AL in batting average at the end of June, and advanced to fifth at the end of September, at .261, but they stayed 11th in on-base percentage, thanks to being by far the worst in the big leagues at drawing walks, at 378.

I know this is beating a dead horsehide, but with 1,549 strikeouts, that makes the Sox K/BB ratio 4.1/1, so far and away the worst in MLB that second place isn’t even in sight. The average is 2.7/1, with Houston being at 1.8. Houston wins a few games. If the White Sox don’t get that fixed, and fixed soon, you can put off being competitive for a whole lot longer, especially since the Sox don’t refuse walks to knock things out of the park, being only 25th in HRs.

But I digress. Back to the report card. Looks like a gentleman’s C. When it comes to Sox management, in the dugout or out, C is as good as it gets.

Gamethread: White Sox at Angels

So, hey, howdy, have I written anything here yet? I don’t know, this weekend, this week, this season’s been a blur. Anyway, what’s up. Happy Dylan Cease Day? (Is it still a celebration, with Dylan having a somewhat pedestrian rookie start?)

I’ve got double gamethread/recap duty today, so listen, I’ll leave it to my SSHP compadre overachievers to make me look bad with exhaustive detail about this that and other. But Tim Anderson, hot as hell, dropped back down to No. 7 (just gonna guess, a righty, right?) is classic Ricky. At least the Abreu/McCann/Jiménez flex at 3-4-5 makes sense, but then … all righties? C’mon, Sr. Rick.

Something sort of funny, if you’ve not noticed: You start typing “Angels” into Twitter to get lineups, and the Los Angeles Dodgers show up before the Angels. No wonder Arte Moreno’s team has suffered through like 28 different prefixes and suffixes in the past 15 years, they’re carpetbaggers in their own city!

Check it out, you can write captions for embeds in WordPress. Hey wait, by typing a caption for this did Mike Trout disappear from the Angels lineup? #UnmitigatedAudacityAndThirstForPower

OK, yeah, see, “Griffin Canning,” a righthander.

But more importantly, no Mike Trout! He DHed last night and is off today?

SOFT

OK, lemme quit before I break all of the new WordPress toys.