On Tuesday night, the Chicago White Sox got shredded by the Oakland Athletics, 17-6. The game was a complete farce – Jeff Samardzija allowed ten runs, and recorded only nine outs. Daniel Webb recorded one out, allowed three hits, six runs (four earned), and walked three. Two position players – Leury Garcia and Alexei Ramirez – pitched for Chicago, and didn’t allow a run.
Meanwhile, Chicago’s offense was underwhelming once again. They scored six on 12 hits, but only two of those hits were for extra bases – home runs by Ramirez and Melky Cabrera. Today, all of the hot takes are about Samardzija’s value in the free agent market this winter. In reality, the focus shouldn’t be on just how damn bad Samardzija was, or how entertaining it was to see Garcia and Ramirez on the hill, but how the White Sox managed to make such a splash this offseason and somehow not upgrade where they needed to actually upgrade.
I’m guilty of overrating the White Sox – I had the team winning the AL pennant this year, figuring that a pitching staff led by Chris Sale, Samardzija, and Jose Quintana would lay waste to the American League and that a Jose Abreu/Melky Cabrera/Adam LaRoche centered lineup would turn Chicago’s top 15 offense from a year ago into a top ten, or even top five, offense this year.
Of course, I was wrong, just like everyone else who was optimistic about the White Sox. Sale’s been brilliant once again, but his ERA is a full run higher than his FIP and xFIP for reasons we’ll get to momentarily. Quintana has been wonderful yet again. Samardzija has been a mess, but a chunk of those struggles can be attributed to the same reasons Sale’s ERA is so much higher than what we’d expect. Offensively, LaRoche has been awful, Cabrera has been mediocre, and Abreu has taken a massive step back from his 2014 Rookie of the Year season.
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