It would be really hard for anyone to find a national media outlet that did not think the Chicago White Sox would run away with the AL Central this season. Chicago was supposed to be a World Series contender. A loaded lineup, a rotation led by Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Lance Lynn, one of the games best closers in the league in Liam Hendricks. We sit here in late September, currently the Sox are five games back of the Cleveland Guardians and have no signs of making any sort of surge. Where did it go wrong? Here are three reasons why the White Sox stink in 2022.
Rotation was a mess
The White Sox let Carlos Rodon walk heading into 2022. Rodon was coming off of his best season in the majors but his injury problems made him tough to sign for a longterm deal. But losing Rodon wasn’t a big deal because the White Sox were prepared. They planned to bring longtime prospect Michael Kopech into the rotation. They signed veterans to fill in the gaps- Johnny Cueto and Vincent Velasquez. They also had the always reliable Dallas Keuchel, oh wait he was an abomination.
Keuchel’s downfall was unexpected but the real surprise came from the regression of ace Lucas Giolito. Giolito’s career has been a roller coaster of performance regression – progression and now back to regression. A lot could be attributed to bad luck, his BABIP during the 2022 season is currently at .350. It has been the walks and poor defense that led to the downfall of the season. Giolito is walking another batter per game compared to 2021, those runners are scoring at a higher rate compared to his previous stellar seasons.
With Giolito regressing, Michael Kopech’s inconsistency, outside of Dylan Cease Chicago had no pitcher they could rely on on a weekly basis.
Offensive decline of Yasmani Grandal
Yasmani Grandal had a remarkable season in 2021. His OBP was .420, with a 23% walk rate, he was also able to add some power popping 23 dingers. 2022 was a completely different story for the Sox backstop, his 71 WRC+ is an astronomical 81 point drop from last season. His OBP dropped 120 points which could be due to his walk rate dropping so drastically.
Grandal was the guy that forced opposing pitchers to throw to the power bats in the middle of the White Sox lineup. Without his ability to get on base and injuries to Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada limiting their production the line wasn’t able to get consistency.
Simple fact, defnese may be the most underappreciated element in baseball. The White Sox have been a complete disaster all season. They rank 24th overall in defensive runs saved and currently are second to last in the league in errors.
Chicago took the little league approach, it was more important for them to get their young developing bats in the lineup rather than put out solid defensive players. Gavin Sheets and Andrew Vaughn are both exciting offensive players, but they both profile as first baseman rather than corner outfielders. First baseman is a position that is currently occupied by former AL MVP Jose Abreu and the DH spot was occupied by slugger Eloy Jimenez (not an upgrade defensively). Sheets and Vaughn have combined for a total of 8 errors in the outfield and more than a couple blooper videos on youtube that will live on forever.
The Sox infield defense has not been much better, shortstop Tim Anderson has been a defensive liability most of his career and despite an injury riddled season he still had ten errors, Jose Abreu accompanied him with 12 errors and third baseman Jake Burger added another 12 errors. The best offense in the world is not going to help you win games when you are handing over runs every inning.