What a Month for the White Sox

August 7, 2015

The White Sox started the month of July seven games out of a playoff spot, but a surprising run led to many of their fans clamoring for the team to be buyers—not sellers—at the non-waiver trade deadline. The Sox went 16-10 in July, the third-best record in the majors in the month, behind only the Yankees (17-7) and the Pirates (17-9).

Their successful stretch seemed to have come out of nowhere considering how they performed over the season’s first three months. Breaking it down further, we’ll take a look at the White Sox’s offensive and defensive improvements.

Largest OPS Improvements (April-June vs. July)
April-June July
Team OPS Rank OPS Rank OPS Difference
White Sox .649 30 .757 9 .108
Mariners .666 27 .771 6 .105
Angels .686 22 .789 4 .103
Phillies .651 29 .743 10 .091
Brewers .674 25 .761 8 .087


The White Sox were the worst hitting team in baseball through June with both the lowest OPS and the lowest total of runs scored in baseball. They then ranked ninth-best in OPS for the month of July. They improved by 108 points on their April-June OPS, the biggest increase in MLB. More than half of their lineup had "hot streaks" that lasted the course of the month—including Melky Cabrera (1.024 OPS), Adam Eaton (.957), Jose Abreu (.891), Carlos Sanchez (.828), and Alexei Ramirez (.811)—and have continued into the first week of August.

Defensively, the ChiSox improvement was even more dramatic. They started July as the second-worst defensive team in baseball with a defense that cost them 48 runs. Only the Phillies were worse with -63 Defensive Runs Saved. In July they were the absolute best defensive team in baseball (27 DRS), by a wide margin.

Most Defensive Runs Saved in July
April-June July
Team DRS Rank DRS Rank
White Sox -48 29 27 1
Padres -22 27 19 2
Marlins 15 7 13 3
Pirates 0 17 12 4
Nationals -20 25 12 5


Catcher Tyler Flowers led all of baseball with eight Runs Saved in July, much of that credit coming from his pitch framing skills. He leads all catchers this season with 11 Strike Zone Runs Saved, and has earned 93 more strike calls than an average catcher. Alexei Ramirez also had a breakout July, as he led baseball with 22 Good Fielding Plays, 9 more than the next-highest shortstop. Though he started the month having cost the White Sox an estimated seven runs, Ramirez saved five runs in July to improve his season total.

While the White Sox currently sit five games back of the AL’s second wild card spot, they hope to ride their offensive and defensive hot streaks from July into the season’s dog days and down the stretch run.


COMMENTS (6 Comments, most recent shown first)

OK, made me wonder what I wrote, or what Dewan wrote to cause that response on regulation.

Of course Baseball is a regulated business, that is, Congress has declared it a legal monopoly. So using your argument, it should just keep getting bigger and bigger.

Having a night to sleep on my response to Dewan. Saladino is likely a SuperSub infielder, and maybe OF sub too in the long run. Anderson is the WSox likely starting future SS. They hope. Matt Davidson might play 3B if he can learn more bat control. Otherwise, like most of BB, who plays 3B is a mystery.

Obviously Avi did not like my comments yesterday, and showed his power against Shoemaker making his case I am wrong about him. But he also showed his inability to play RF. Does he need glasses or chewing tobaccy? We don't know if Avi could play LF, as Melky is in the way. I still think his bat/defense mix is not a winning combo.

Nate looked his ole' self last night and could really help a WSox pen that has been stretched and underperformed.

The heat has the bats warm and active.

Let's see how if Rodon reacted in a similar way as Eaton, since he was pulled last start at 4.2 innings with a lead. He goes against the former WSock Santiago.
12:00 PM Aug 11th
Sorry, don't know how this got lost in this post.
9:19 AM Aug 11th
Random thoughts:

Most of us dislike bigness in business, it creates wealth disparity and power disparity and bereaucratic,, non-responsive businesses. We also dislike bigness in government, which creates a lot of the same things. We forget sometimes how much bigger the U.S. is than most other democratic nations, and therefore how much bigger and more unwieldy a government agency we create when we decide to do something because it works in Sweden or Japan or Germany.

Clearly we can't have a law that, in your example, applies to Walmart and not to Amazon. To allow scale in online retailing and not in bricks and mortar will put bricks and mortar at a huge disadvantage.

Defining what comprises an industry, a competitive set, will become a stage for much lobbying and corruption. Does McDonalds compete against a one off seafood place in Maine. Amazon against Walmart? Costco against Safeway? Exactly what defines the competitive set for every business? Also exceptions for industries will be bought and sold in Washington. And we will see a rash of strategies like franchising to try to avoid scale issues.

If you DO outlaw bigness, one opportunity is to reduce a lot of government regulation. Government regulation is one (among many) incentives toward scale. Large business can comply much more efficiently with regulation than smaller ones - they have specialists to do these things and they get a scale advantage. If we shrink businesses such that they have less power, presumably they will need less regulation. Though all will have to comply in some way with the government effort to define and measure the size of every industry and company.

A great example of regulation leading to bigger businesses is banking, where compliance is a huge effort. It is getting harder to be a local bank and be efficient. The government fight against big banks has led to bigger banks. Much better to limit the total dollar amount of FDIC insurance to any one institution. Simple, elegant and justified because government/taxpayer dollars are at at stake. It is not an arbitrary limit on size but on the risk we are all willing to take on one institution. We should also demand higher bank capital reserves in order get FDIC insurance. A bank should be able to withstand a crisis like 2008 with their own capital, and FDIC insurance should be purely catastrophic. More capital required and less regulation (since there is now less risk in general and much less risk of a taxpayer bailout). This would be an environment in which smaller banks could compete again with big banks. As it is, scale and clout in Washington (the big banks had a huge influence on Dodd Frank, small banks none) make it very hard for smaller banks to compete. In almost any industry, the more the government regulates and influences, the bigger the businesses get that compete in it.
9:12 AM Aug 11th
The run that the White Sox had warranted some attention, and the article is well done. As the earlier post-er mentions the stretch of games against the Red Sox and an Indians team that was playing uncharacteristically poorly did skew the pure numbers of that win streak. They still struggle against good teams like the Rays, Cardinals, Royals, and Yankees.

The weather is a part of the Sox story. They were built to hit, and they played in cold weather much more than typical. Their bats have warmed up quite literally.

Better team play usually comes from better individual play. Visibly, Alexei is playing much more energetically at short even if his arm is still more erratic than normal. It is always a challenge to know as a fan, how personal matters impact play, but Ramirez looks to be his old self suddenly. He is a Pro SS in his final year of a contract.

Saladino, now at 3B, a SS in AAA, has brought energy to the infield that a sleepy Gillaspie lacked. Conor my have a role to play as a lefty bench bat, but he is not a starting 3B it seemed. Saladino's defense helps Alexei be a better SS and it appears Tyler is good enough to join Sanchez in the Sox infield of the future. And with them her now it provides them time for development and growth. Good for the team, but not necessarily a playoff run.

Soto is playing catcher solidly and hitting well combined with Flowers who is defending well but still not hitting at a major league level consistently. Soto will be a free agent. And the Sox have Brantly and Nieto in the minors to fill his spot.

Melky has caught offensive fire for no apparent reason. This has been the most important offensive piece in their improvement. When signed in the offseason he was meant to hit 2nd between Eaton and Abreu. Melky's poor hitting until July had a significant impact, as the other optimistic part of Ventura's batting order was Avisail's expected emergence which has stealthily remained nonexistent. When your entire OF doesn't hit, that is not typically a winning team, and that was the White Sox until July. Garcia who has shown absolutely no speed despite the best shape of his life, and a defense that lacks sane routes, has only recently figured out how to occasionally hit in the clutch, and has been a complete disappointment. It is difficult to tell if he can still change his path.

Eaton finally caught fire after bench coach Parent, as acting manager in Ventura's parental absence, benched Eaton, to which reportedly Adam took offense. Again, its difficult to know as a fan, what was really happening, but the two events seem connected. Fire and smoke. And unfortunately, during the weekend series with the Royals, while making a difficult catch in CF, Eaton hurt his shoulder, he continued to play the following day, so he may be less effective if remaining in the lineup. Thompson has potential but may not be major league OF ready I am guessing, despite his familial athletic disposition Time will tell on Trace, I think he is an eventual 4th OF.

On the Staff, Sale does not seem himself, and despite his efforts to break Buehrle's records for time between pitches, his fastball seems to be missing movement. That makes 'hisself' only a very good pitcher instead of perhaps the best. Danks has become unhittable, they say his shoulder finally unleashed 2 more MPH. Or is it Flo and his framing? I dk. But I am cynical that it is permanent. Q remains the solid lefty starter that gets whiffs but does not seemingly know how to win, and Shark is a righty version with a contract that makes him tradable. There are available AAA options to fill starter spots if spots open up from trades, but Johnson, Penny, and Noesi are not change makers.

The bullpen, led by Robertson is mundane. Not the worst, not the best. They should be better. No major changers from the AAA roster evident. Nate will pitch again soon, his 99 mph can help. I dk what Crain's status is currently. That is all I can see.

And so it seems, to this fan that the 'streak' only delayed a proper restructuring and it would seem Hahn should again become 'the most active GM', this time in August which is always a little more challenging.

Goodbye Geo, Shark, and Danks, its been fun. Maybe the Sox fans will see Geo or Shark again. But the fans ask, that whichever teams take these 3 players, could you please take LaRoche (aka LaDunn) as well, they are tired of booing him, and he is a better player than he has shown in Chicago. Certainly his defense at 1B has value to some team in the hunt, don't you think?

So, are the Sox in the hunt for the last WC spot? I don't see it. But I am

just a fan.
11:59 AM Aug 10th
The scheduling god gave them back-back four game series against the 12th and last place teams in the AL, during which they ran a seven game winning streak. Take that out and they were 9-10 . Every dog has its day....
2:56 AM Aug 10th

Just sayin'.....any team can have a hot streak. The Phillies are 14-5 since the All-Star break.
9:14 PM Aug 8th
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