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Some say that the White Sox' decline this year was entirely predictable.  Was it?

Much of the blame for the Sox season to date falls on the offence.  The Sox are scoring runs at the poorest rate in the American League. How about a look back at the Marcel, Chone and ZIPS projections, courtesy of Fangraphs, for the Sox regulars to see how they have fared compared with the projections?

Here is the chart:

Player Actual OPS Marcel OPS Chone OPS
Thome .987 .900 .941
Konerko .893 .902 .852
Mackowiak .771 .757 .732
Dye .725 .879 .884
Iguchi .720 .775 .773
Pierzynski .694 .753 .771
Erstad .652 .714

Uribe .599 .757 .759
Crede .576 .788 .789

They say that hitting is contagious.  Perhaps poor hitting is also contagious. Whatever the cause, it is a fact that three regulars, Dye, Uribe and Crede (and Josh Fields who replaced him), have to date grossly underperformed the consensus projections, and no regular has significantly exceeded them.   That is one way for a decent team to be out of the running at the All-Star break. The pitching has been poorer than expected, as well, but that is a story for another day.

This may perhaps provide solace for Jays fans.  It could be worse.
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AWeb - Friday, July 20 2007 @ 02:10 PM EDT (#171817) #
And don't forget the non-Thome DH's, who have gotten 81 ABs, have gone a collective 16/81 (.198), with 1 HR. Thome has been close to the best  DH in the league (Ortiz is the other), but that advantage has been blunted significantly overall. Chicago is suffering an even more acute case of the "giant holes in the lineup" problem Toronto has been suffering through.

Their 3B is the worst in the league (yes, behind Minnesota where .619 OPS Punto has gotten most of the ABs), Catchers have only marginally outperformed the Jays (and we've been watching how bad that's been), SS is currently tied with the Jays for the worst OPS at .589 (although the Jays focus on OBP, .274 to .267, gives a very slight advantage), and CF is last by a mile (.607 OPS vs next worse Baltimore at .672).

Coming off the series with the Yankees, where the announcers kept saying the Yankees lineup was "wearing down" the pitchers, it's easy to see (the Yankees have the league worst production from RF, along with Boston) that this really means "very few hitters suck and can be counted on for an out when required". Close to half the Chi-Sox lineup has been a gaping hole this year, which just isn't going to work, barring 5 superstars at the other positions. Like the Jays, this does make for obvious places to make large improvements in the offseason. A whole team of below average players is harder to fix than a below average team with some good and some awful players, at least intuitively.
Chuck - Friday, July 20 2007 @ 02:38 PM EDT (#171820) #

I wonder if this White Sox meltdown won't cause some to re-evaluate just how much difference any given manager actually makes as compared to the broader implications of the random variability in player performances.

Was the White Sox World Series the result of Guillen's motivational techniques and the tone he set? Is the team now sliding because he's serving up negative energy? Of course, it's only a matter of time before scribes cite the absence of Podsednik the ignitor as the root cause of this year's demise.

It's been said by many that managers get too much praise if a team wins and too much criticism if a team loses. And this position dovetails nicely with another active thread. Whatever our misgivings about Gibbons might be, it's the underperformances of various players that are to blame for the team's uninspiring record much more than Gibbons' day-to-day machinations.

A player like Vernon Wells has made it abundantly lear that he operates in up and down cycles, just like a sine wave. And Jermaine Dye is very similar. He'll oscillate between MVP candidate and meh, and pity the manager who has to take the fall when he's at a low ebb.


Mike Green - Friday, July 20 2007 @ 03:01 PM EDT (#171821) #
I suppose that it could be argued that the projection systems uniformly accorded too much weight to Uribe's 2004 season. He was 24 years old then and the inclination might be to give it considerable weight rather than to treat it as a fluke bearing in mind his career before and after.
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