What Went Wrong

After winning a Wild Card slot in 2020 and running away with the Central Division title in 2021, the White Sox looked like an easy lock to make a third straight post-season appearance this October.  Unfortunately, something (or somethings) went wrong along the way and after a long season where nothing ever seemed to click, the team was officially eliminated on Sunday after dropping six straight against the Guardians and the Tigers.  So where did things fall apart?  Let’s take a deeper look.

Injuries

After injuries rocked the White Sox in 2021, they revamped their strength and conditioning staff, hoping a new program would help stem the tide.  Unfortunately, the lockout prevented the new staff from working with the players, leaving them to their own devices.  GM Rick Hahn said in June that, between the lockout and the shortened spring training, the new program “got stymied a little bit this offseason” and that it would “be difficult in-season to perhaps change the results over the next few weeks and months in terms of health.”  Boy, was he not kidding.

Things started at the end of spring training, when lefty reliever Garrett Crochet went down for the year with an elbow injury requiring Tommy John surgery.  Two days later, starter Lance Lynn left his final spring tune-up with a bum knee, putting him on the shelf until the middle of June.  Finally, before the White Sox arrived in Detroit for their season opener, Yoan Moncada suffered an oblique strain that knocked him out for a month and may have sunk his entire season.  Relief pitcher Joe Kelly, signed during the offseason, also started the season on the IL rehabbing an injury from the year before and wasn’t activated until May.

Outfielder AJ Pollock left the second game of the year with a hamstring injury, missing over three weeks.  The same day, Lucas Giolito was placed on the IL with an abdominal strain, keeping him out for nearly two weeks.  The day he was activated, Eloy Jimenez was placed on the IL with a strained hamstring suffered that day against the Twins.  It would be two and a half months before he returned.  This was all before the calendar turned to May!

Things never let up.  Andrew Vaughn missed time in May after getting hit in the hand by a pitch.  Aaron Bummer suffered a right knee strain that kept him out for two weeks.  Lucas Giolito and Luis Robert both missed time in May thanks to bouts with COVID.  Joe Kelly went back on the IL with a hamstring strain.  Tim Anderson missed three weeks with a groin strain, the same injury that kept Vince Velasquez for two weeks.

Aaron Bummer suffered another injury in mid-June which kept him out until September.  Yasmani Grandal was felled with lower back spasms for six weeks.  A right forearm strain put Liam Hendriks on the shelf for nearly three weeks.  A strained hamstring took down Yoan Moncada for nearly three weeks.  Adam Engel fell victim to the same injury for two weeks.  On July 6th, Jake Burger went down with a bruised hand following a hit by pitch, Vince Velasquez was felled by a blister on his right index finger, and Danny Mendick was lost for the year with a torn ACL.  We just now are getting to the All-Star break.  Shall I keep going?

Luis Robert was shut down with blurred vision.  A lower back strain put Reynaldo Lopez on the shelf.  A torn finger ligament knocked out Tim Anderson for the remainder of the year on August 9th.  Another lower back strain took down Leury Garcia.  A bum knee sent Michael Kopech to the IL, while another hamstring strain stopped Yoan Moncada for the third time this year.  Kopech was felled again with a shoulder strain on September 7th.  Finally, after suffering with a wrist injury for nearly a month and a half, Luis Robert was shut down and placed on the IL on Saturday with the 2022 title all but wrapped up for the Guardians.

Aside from the sheer number of injuries, this meant that the White Sox were very rarely at anything approaching full strength.  Some piece of the puzzle was always missing, and usually two or three pieces.  The bullpen injuries led to some early overwork for guys like Kendall Graveman, which impacted his performance in the second half.  Because of this, the White Sox never seemed to gel or to be able to string wins together to pull ahead.

Lack of Power

Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 7

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #7.  88 different players have donned #7 while playing in Chicago, 43 for the White Sox and 45 for the Cubs.

After wearing #12 when he was first called up to the big leagues, Tim Anderson switched to #7 starting with his second season in 2017.  Showing that he was still a work in progress, Anderson slashed .257/.276/.402 in 2017, with a 2.1% walk rate, the lowest in the major leagues.  Defensively, he led the major leagues in errors, with 28, as well as fielding errors (16) and throwing errors (12).  He showed slight improvements in 2018, with slight improvements in his OBP and slugging percentage, while reducing his overall errors.

2019 was Anderson’s coming out party.  He led the major leagues with a .335 average while raising his OPS to .865, setting career highs with 167 hits, 32 doubles, and 81 runs.  He still had some issues on defense, leading all major league players with 26 errors, leading to the lowest fielding percentage amongst all shortstops.  His hot bat continued into the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, notching a .322 average and an .886 OPS.  He won his first Silver Slugger award while leading the White Sox to their first post-season appearance since 2008.  He thrived in the Wild Card series against the A’s, going 9-14 in the three-game series.

Anderson continued to prove that he his offensive improvement wasn’t a fluke when baseball returned full time in 2021.  He was named to his first All Star team and, on the game’s biggest stage, he hit a walk-off home run against the Yankees in the inaugural Field of Dreams game in the cornfields of Iowa.  Overall, he hit .309 and posted an .807 OPS while hitting 17 home runs and driving in 61 RBIs.  Continuing where he left off the previous October, Anderson hit .368 in the ALDS against the Astros.

On the north side of town, Peoria-native and Northwestern graduate Joe Girardi made his Major League debut for the Cubs on April 4, 1989 wearing #7.  He batted .248 with a home run and 14 runs batted in (RBIs) in 59 games as the surprising Cubs took home a division title. Getting more consistent playing time in 1990, he hit .270 with a home run and 38 RBIs.  Limited to only 21 games in 1991, he managed just a .191 average with only 6 RBIs. In 1992, he rebounded to play in 91 games, hitting .270 with a home run and 12 RBIs.  Following the season, he was left unprotected in the expansion draft and was selected by the Rockies.

Against The Cubs All Time Leaders – Through 2021

chc_logoIn the past, we’ve looked at the all time leaders in both offensive and defensive categories for all 30 teams. This offseason, we will take our first ever look at those leaders against all 30 clubs.  We continue today with the Chicago Cubs.

I’ve seen the Cubs play 430 times at 9 different stadiums in 7 different cities, including 21 post-season appearances from the 2003 run through the 2018 Wild Card loss to the Rockies.

Home Runs

Name Total
Carlos Lee 15
Paul Konerko 15
Adam Dunn 11

Hits

Name Total
Carlos Lee 59
Paul Konerko 50
Jose Abreu 32

Runs

Name Total
Carlos Lee 59
Paul Konerko 50
Jose Abreu 32

RBI

Name Total
Carlos Lee 39
Paul Konerko 33
Adam Dunn 25

Doubles

Name Total
Carlos Lee 12
Paul Konerko 9
Prince Fielder 9

Triples Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 24

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #24.  104 different players have donned #24 while playing in Chicago, 49 for the White Sox and 55 for the Cubs.

Joe Crede earned a September call-up from Double A in 2000, and, wearing #24, made his major league debut on September 12, replacing Herbert Perry and going 0-1 in the Tigers 10-3 victory at Comiskey Park.  Crede appeared in 7 games, making the most of his 14 at bats, and finished with a .357 average.  Crede got another cup of coffee with the big league club in September of 2001, earning a little more playing time, but he was less successful, finishing with a .220 average in 50 at bats over 17 games.  Crede returned to the White Sox for good in July of 2002.  On August 12, he hit his first major league home run off of former teammate James Baldwin and he finished with 12 home runs, 35 RBIs, and a .285 average.  Crede established himself as the starting third baseman in 2003.  He appeared in a career high 151 games and launched 19 home runs with 75 RBIs while posting a .261 average.  He struggled in 2004, seeing his average drop to .239 while hitting 21 home runs with 69 RBIs.

In 2005, Crede started to come in to his own.  While he improved his average to .252 and hit 22 home runs with 62 RBIs, he came alive in the second half, culminating with a game winning, and possible season saving, home run in the 10th inning against the Indians on September 20, which pushed the White Sox to a 3.5 game lead and propelled them into the playoffs.  Crede had a rough series in the ALDS against the Red Sox, getting only 1 hit in 9 at bats, but rebounded in the ALCS and World Series, hitting .368 and .294 respectively, with 2 home runs in each series.  2006 was Joe Crede’s breakout season.  He hit .283 with career highs in home runs, with 30, and RBIs, with 94, winning his first, and only, Silver Slugger award.  A back injury in 2007 limited him to 47 games and only 4 home runs.  He returned with a bang in 2008, hitting a grand slam on opening day against the Twins and parlayed a good first half into his first All Star selection, but the back injury recurred and kept him out for most of the second half of the season, including the playoffs, thus ending his White Sox career.

On the north side of town, Dexter Fowler joined Cubs via trade prior to the 2015 season.  Donning #24, he ended the year with a .250 average, 102 runs scored, 46 RBIs, 17 home runs, and 20 stolen bases as the Cubs made a surprise run for the NL Wild Card.  Fowler helped propel the Cubs to the NLDS, putting up three hits, three runs scored, a home run, and a stolen base in defeating the Pirates.  In nine postseason games, Fowler batted .396 with two home runs and three RBIs, as the Cubs made it to the NLCS against the Mets.

Fowler became a free agent after the season and was unsigned into the start of spring training.  Despite reportedly agreeing to a three-year contract with the Orioles, Fowler arrived in Cubs camp and signed a one year deal.  And what a year it was.  Fowler finished the year with a .276 average, 13 home runs, 48 RBIs, and 84 runs scored as the Cubs won the NL Central.  Fowler’s .333 average with 4 RBI helped the Cubs win the NLCS against the Dodgers, advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1945.  On October 25, 2016, Dexter Fowler became the first African-American to appear and to bat for the Cubs in a World Series game.  Fowler led off Game 7 of the World Series with a home run, becoming the first player in history to do so, and helping the Cubs win 8–7 in 10 innings, giving the team their first championship in 108 years.

By The Numbers – 27

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #27.  103 different players have donned #27 while playing in Chicago, 52 for the White Sox and 51 for the Cubs.

Acquired on December 19, 2016 from the Nationals, Lucas Giolito made his White Sox debut the following summer donning #27.  In 7 starts, he put up a sparkling 2.38 ERA while compiling a 3-3 record.  Things went south In 2018, as Giolito was, statistically, the worst starting pitcher in baseball with a 6.13 ERA, leading the league (the bad way) in WHIP and walks per 9 innings.  That offseason, he began rebuilding his game from the ground up, leading to a 2019 All Star appearance en route to a 14-9 record with a 3.41 ERA.  In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, he held the hapless Pirates hitless on August 25th, striking out 13 while facing one batter over the minimum of 27.  He made his post-season debut in Game 1 of the Wild Card series against the A’s, retiring the first 18 batters in order before giving up 2 hits and a walk in the 7th inning, earning the victory in the White Sox only win during the series.  In 2021, Giolito made 31 starts, finishing with a record of 11-9 and a 3.53 ERA.

During his second go-around with the North Siders, Joe Girardi wore #27 for the 2001 and 2002 seasons.  On June 22, 2002, Girardi addressed a sold-out Wrigley Field to announce the day’s game was cancelled following the death of Cardinal pitcher Darryl Kile.  Following that season, he became a free agent and left the team for the second, and final, time.

By The Numbers – 34

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #35.  82 players have donned #34 on each side of town, including 50 for the White Sox and 32 for the Cubs.

Kerry Wood was the fourth overall selection in the first round of the 1995 draft, making his major league debut for the Cubs less than 3 years later.  Making his fifth major league start in May of 1998, Wood would cement his place in Cubs lore and baseball history, striking out 20 and giving up a single hit against the Astros.  Wood helped the Cubs to the Wild Card, their first post-season appearance since 1989.  An injured elbow, however, cost him the 1999 season and, just maybe, altered the course of his career.  He led the Cubs rotation as they made a surprising run towards the World Series in 2003, coming up a mere 5 outs short.  By 2007, he was moved to the bullpen full time,  After quick detours with the Indians and the Yankees, he returned to the Cubs in 2011 and retired in May of 2012, striking out Dayan Viciedo in his final appearance in a crosstown tilt.

On the south side of town, young phenom Michael Kopech may end up owning the number across both teams.  But for now, we will split the difference between three pitchers, each of whom helped lead the White Sox to a playoff appearance.  Richard Dotson switched to #34 in 1983, just in time to go 22-7 as the White Sox won their first division title.  Acquired in 2004, Freddy Garcia donned the number while winning the clinching game 4 of the 2005 World Series.  His replacement in the rotation, beginning in 2007, was Gavin Floyd, who also wore the number as the White Sox won their latest division title in 2008.

By The Numbers – 39

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #39.  77 different players have donned #39 while playing in Chicago, 31 for the White Sox and 46 for the Cubs.

First acquired in 1989, Roberto Hernandez, donning #39, made his major league debut on September 2, 1991, getting the start and going 7 innings for the victory in the White Sox win over the Royals.  He appeared in 9 games in the final month of the season, making the only 3 starts of his career, and finished the year with a 7.80 ERA.  In 1992, Hernandez split the year between Triple A and Chicago, eventually supplanting Bobby Thigpen as the team’s primary closer.  He finished the year with 12 saves and a sparkling 1.65 ERA.  Hernandez had another great year in 1993, saving 38 games in 70 appearances with a 2.29 ERA as the White Sox won their final AL West title.  During the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Hernandez threw 4 scoreless innings in 4 appearances, earning 1 save.

In the strike-shortened 1994 season, Hernandez struggled.  His ERA jumped to 4.91 and he saved only 14 games before the season ended on August 12, despite leading the league in games finished.  When baseball returned in 1995, Hernandez bounced back somewhat, once again leading the league in games finished and lowering his ERA by nearly a full run to 3.92.  1996 was a true return to form for Hernandez.  He led the league in games finished for the third straight year and lowered his ERA by 2 full runs to 1.91.  He earned his first All Star selection and, with 38 saves, finished 6th in Cy Young Award voting.  Hernandez was well on his way to another strong season in 1997, with 27 saves and a 2.44 ERA, when he was included in the infamous White Flag trade on July 31, joining Wilson Alzarez and Danny Darwin in going to the Giants for the collection of Brian Manning, Lorenzo Barcelo, Mike Caruso, Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, and Ken Vining.

On the other side of town, Andrew Chafin wore #39 for the 11 months he was a member of the Cubs.  Acquired on August 31, the trade deadline of the shortened 2020 season, Chafin pitched in 4 games over the final month, posting a 3.00 ERA and retired the only batter he faced in the Wild Card series against the Marlins.  In February, Chafin re-upped with the Cubs and became sort of a cult hero.  On June 24, he was part of a combined no-hitter against the Dodgers.  In 43 appearances for the Cubs in 2021, Chafin recorded a 2.06 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 39.1 innings of work before being traded to the A’s on July 27th.

Two Sides Of The Same Town

cws-chiFollowing last week’s trade deadline deals, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel became the 36th and 37th people I’ve seen play in person for both the Cubs and the White Sox.  With the first round of crosstown kicking off this afternoon at Wrigley, here’s a look at those players, in alphabetical order.

David Aardsma

After posting a decent season with the Cubs in 2006, Aardsma was traded to the White Sox for Neal Cotts.  Aardsma lasted one season with the Sox, where he was unable to duplicate his success from the year before.

Jason Bere

Drafted by the White Sox in the 36th round in 1990, Bere debuted with the big league club in 1993, finishing 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting.  After an All Star selection in 1994, injuries marred the remainder of his tenure on the South Side, which ended in 1998.  He resurfaced with the Cubs in 2001 and had a decent season, but he went 1-10 in 2002 before being let go.

Emilio Bonifacio

Bonifacio spent back-to-back partial seasons in Chicago, first for the Cubs in 2014 after signing as a free agent, where he played decently enough to be flipped at the trade deadline, along with James Russell, to the Braves for a young catching prospect by the name of Victor Caratini.  He returned to Chicago in 2015, signing with the White Sox, where he he did not do well at all, hitting .167 in 47 games before being released in August.

Welington Castillo

Debuting with the Cubs in 2010, Castillo spent time behind the plate for the Cubs until May of 2015, when, having been replaced in the starting lineup by Miguel Montero, he was flipped to the Mariners.  He returned to Chicago in 2018 after signing with the White Sox as a free agent.  On May 24th of that season, he was suspended 80 games for a violation of the PED policy.  The White Sox then cut bait following the 2019 season, shipping him off to the Rangers.

Neal Cotts

Acquired by the White Sox in the Billy Koch trade, he debuted with the team in 2003.  He was a key contributor in the bullpen during the 2005 championship season, and was the only relief pitcher to appear in all 3 rounds of the playoffs that season.  Following the 2006 season, he was traded to the Cubs for David Aardsma, and he spent the next 3 injury filled seasons on the North Side.

Scott Eyre

Joining the White Sox organization in a 1994 trade with the Rangers, he debuted with the big league team in 1997.  He split the next 4 seasons between the rotation and the bullpen, not to mention between Chicago and Charlotte, before being moved to the Blue Jays following the 2000 ALDS loss to the Mariners.  He joined the Cubs as a free agent for the 2006 season and enjoyed 2 seasons of relative success, before falling apart in 2008, when he was traded to the Phillies.

Kosuke Fukudome Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 48

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #48.  65 different players have donned #48 while playing in Chicago, 35 for the White Sox and 30 for the Cubs.

Rick Reuschel was selected by the Cubs in the third round of the 1970 draft.  He joined the big league team in June of 1972, donning #48.  His best season came in 1977, winning 20 games and finishing third in the Cy Young Award voting as the Cubs flirted with a pennant chase before a late season swoon.  He remained with the Cubs until he was traded to the Yankees during the 1981 strike.  He returned to the Cubs in 1983, but wearing a different number.

Acquired for Omar Narvaez, Alex Colome wore #48 during his two seasons on the south side.  He notched 42 saves in 83 games, and picked up an additional save and 2 scoreless innings in 2 appearances during the 2020 Wild Card series against the A’s.

By The Numbers – 51

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #51.  44 different players have donned #51 while playing in Chicago, 20 for the White Sox and 24 for the Cubs.

Juan Cruz, wearing #51, made his big league debut for the Cubs on August 21, 2001, against the Brewers.  He went 3–1 with a 3.22 ERA in his first 8 starts, and recorded his first two major league hits on October 2.  Cruz went 3–11 with a 3.98 ERA in 45 games in 2002, picking up his first career save.  He got off to a good start in 2003, striking out 6 consecutive Mets on Opening Day, becoming only the second Cubs reliever to achieve the feat.  Things went a bit downhill from there, finishing the year 2–7 with a 6.05 ERA while making 6 starts, despite being sent back down to Iowa in June.  He threw one scoreless inning during the NLDS against the Braves.  That would end up being his final Cub appearance, as he was traded to those same Braves the following March.

Dane Dunning was acquired by the White Sox as part of the return for Adam Eaton in 2016.  He made his major league debut in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, going 2-0 in 7 starts with a 3.97 ERA.  He started Game 3 of the Wild Card series against the A’s, getting pulled after 2/3rds of an inning as the White Sox were eliminated.  That was his final White Sox appearance, as he was traded to the Rangers in exchange for Lance Lynn this past December.