Sunday, October 17, 2004
Team of Extremes
One of the major themes many White Sox fans have complained about the team is that they are too inconsistent. And, despite the fact that the Sox put up quite an offensively display this year - they scored 10 or more runs 23 times, which is once every 7 1/2 games or so - they also failed to score 3 runs 45 times. In those 45 contests, the Sox were 1-44.
So let's put it all together. When scoring more than 7 runs (an arbitrary cut off, I admit), the Sox were 35-6. When scoring fewer than 3 runs, thus Sox were 1-44. That's a total of 85 contests in which the outcome was largely decided by the Sox' offense.
Let's see how that compares to the best teams in the league.
Minnesota - fewer than 3 runs 37 times (4-33 record), more than 7 runs 30 times (27-3) - 67 total games
Anaheim - fewer than 3 runs 41 times (6-35), more than 7 runs 35 times (34-1) - 76 total games
Boston - fewer than 3 runs 24 times (4-20), more than 7 runs 45 times (45-0!) - 69 total games
New York - fewer than 3 runs 34 times (5-29), more than 7 runs 42 times (37-5) - 76 total games
Note that all of the playoff teams had fewer games in which they scored fewer than 3 runs. That is true despite the fact that the Sox scored more runs than Minnesota or Anaheim. They also all had higher winning percentages in those games. All the teams had higher winning percentage in the games in which they scored 7 or more runs, too.
Was the Sox's pitching equally erratic? They allowed fewer than 3 runs 35 times, with a 32-3 record in those games. They allowed more than 7 runs 35 times, with a 9-26 record in those games. There were thus only 70 games in which the Sox pitching won or lost the game - compared to 85 games for the offense. Now let's compare that to the AL playoff teams again.
Minnesota - fewer than 3 runs 51 times (45-6 record), more than 7 runs 26 times (0-26) - 77 total games
Anaheim - fewer than 3 runs 46 times (40-6), more than 7 runs 24 times (4-20) - 70 total games
Boston - fewer than 3 runs 45 times (43-2), more than 7 runs 33 times (4-29) - 78 total games
New York - fewer than 3 runs 41 times (39-2), more than 7 runs 31 times (5-26) - 72 total games
Here, the difference are not so much in the total number of games won or lost by the pitching staffs, but in the number of games in which the playoff teams allowed fewer than 3 runs. They all allowed fewer than 3 runs more times than the Sox (they all allowed more than 8 runs fewer times than the Sox, too).
Now, let's put it all together in a handy chart:
|Team||Scored <3>||Scored >7||Allowed <3>||Allowed >7|
Bold totals mean good results. The White Sox had a total of 76 perfomances of scoring more than 7 or allowing fewer than 7 runs (performances, not games - the Sox had several blowouts scoring more than 7 runs and allowing fewer than 3 runs). By comparison, the Twins had 81 such performances, Anaheim 81, Boston 90, and the Yankees 84.
The White Sox had a total of 80 bad performances, while Minnesota had 63, Anaheim 65, Boston 57, and New York 65.
I haven't quite thought through the meaning of all this. Some of it is self-evident; poor teams have more poor performances. But I'm not sure there isn't meaning in the Sox's number of games scoring fewer than 3 runs. Despite scoring a ton of runs, and jacking 242 home runs, they had power outages entirely too often. This is troubling - Texas scored 860 runs, about the same number of runs as the White Sox (865), yet scored fewer than 3 runs only 35 times - 9 fewer than the White Sox.
By the same token, the Sox's pitching staff wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. Sure, they had 35 blow up games, but they won 9 of those games. Moreover, that total was not dramatically higher than Boston or New York. Although the pitching collapsed in August and September, it seems more appropriate to blame the Sox's poor performance on the inconsistentcy of the offense.
Although Ozzie Guillen has put focus on a Marlins-type offense in the latter part of the season and in early off-season comments, I think his criticism of the Sox's offense is misdirected. The problem is not with the manner in which the Sox score runs, but with the consistency in scoring runs. This should be solved by acquiring players whose production is more consistent.