Are double plays killing the White Sox?

Are double plays killing the White Sox?
I picked this one of many for how mundane it is // Hannah Foslien, Getty Images

In the past week and a half, I would estimate that the White Sox have hit into somewhere around 15,000 double plays.  That's extremely wrong, of course, but today is all about differentiating the perception of a team being hell-bent on massacring it's own baserunners, and whatever the marginally better reality is.

In raw totals, the Sox have hit into 75 double plays on the year through Friday (I know, the idea they're averaging less than one a game is shocking), which is bad enough for 6th most in baseball.

However, teams ahead of them include St. Louis, Boston, and the New York Yankees, who are in terms of wRC+, the three best offenses in baseball (Baltimore is ahead of the Sox too, but given that I've never been there, know only one person from there, but watched The Wire all the way through five times, I can comfortably conclude that the city of Baltimore is simply cursed).  The thing about leading the league in double plays, or leading the league in runners left on base, is that it requires baserunners.  Lots of them.  A bad team goes down in order, it's a far better team that loads the bases with one out and hits into an inning-ending double play

But the White Sox are not particularly great at getting on-base, so the fact that they're hitting into traps 12% of the time they have a runner on first with less than two outs (5th in the AL) is a lot more troubling than it is for the Yankees.  I took the liberty of listing out the number of baserunners each team has had over the year of any kind--hits, walks, hit-by-pitches, reached on errors, catcher interference, massive birds picking up hitters and carrying them to first, while subtracting home runs.  Because generally guys don't get doubled off trotting around the bases.

The White Sox rank in as 7th in the AL in guys on the basepaths, the Padres have inexplicably reached via catcher's inteference six times despite two-thirds of the league's teams not having done it once, and the Sox' 7.75% of runners offed by double plays puts them at 4th in the AL, and 5th in all of baseball.  Hard to say how much causation to bad offense you can assign to this though.  Snakebit offenses like Baltimore and Anaheim (that's where they play!) rank at the top, but the Sox have a virtually identical percentage to the Yankees.  The teams with the lowest percentage are littered with awful and great offenses in equal measure.

After removing home runs and runners killed off by DPs, the Sox have 892 baserunners left (again, through Friday), which is 8th in the AL.  That's bad, but they're only 6th in the AL in getting on base in the first place, and separated by the 10th team by exactly .002.  And I'm betting that OBP is going dooooooooown after Saturday.

Here's a link to my work below for you to examine and reach your own conclusions, but I'd have to say that while the White Sox clearly have a high double play rate, it's not prohibitive, and not nearly the problem that having a generally mediocre on-base percentage, and well below what they were expecting in power production has been.  Even if the Sox got a lot more lucky avoiding DPs, it'd be a slight pickup.

So it's the same old story, bad seasons from Dunn, Rios, Beckham, and not enough of Pierre on base is handcuffing the Sox, making every time they blow one of their few opportunities sting a lot more.  In my next Adventure in Spreadsheets, I'll investigate just how damaging the White Sox inability to score runners from 3rd with less than two outs is.  And that may actually just be conclusively horrifying.

 

*Inexplicably my attempt to paste the spreadsheet in is below.  I'm trying to get rid of it.

 

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I ROE Total OB Kill % Runners Left
Twins 60 0.3 2970 891 46 0 30 875 6.86% 815
Nationals 60 0.302 3082 931 77 0 32 886 6.77% 826
Orioles 77 0.321 3030 973 83 0 14 904 8.52% 827
Mariners 41 0.296 3037 899 53 0 34 880 4.66% 839
Braves 57 0.305 3136 956 86 2 26 898 6.34% 841
Pirates 68 0.31 3025 938 53 0 29 914 7.44% 846
Indians 56 0.32 3013 964 73 0 13 904 6.19% 848
Rays 46 0.31 3053 946 78 0 30 898 5.12% 852
Athletics 69 0.304 3116 947 43 1 34 939 7.35% 870
Brewers 53 0.319 3114 993 92 0 27 928 5.71% 875
Marlins 55 0.309 3121 964 65 0 32 931 5.91% 876
Padres 56 0.305 3113 949 45 6 24 934 5.99% 878
Giants 58 0.306 3129 957 51 0 31 937 6.19% 879
Diamondbacks 41 0.317 3156 1000 93 0 25 932 4.40% 891
White Sox 75 0.321 3185 1022 83 0 28 967 7.75% 892
Blue Jays 62 0.319 3190 1018 96 0 34 956 6.49% 894
Cubs 63 0.317 3149 998 72 0 36 962 6.55% 899
Angels 82 0.319 3178 1014 63 0 33 984 8.34% 902
Yankees 76 0.344 3103 1067 116 0 28 979 7.76% 903
Rockies 58 0.325 3149 1023 88 0 31 966 6.00% 908
Phillies 57 0.319 3176 1013 68 1 25 971 5.87% 914
Rangers 74 0.328 3182 1044 97 0 43 990 7.48% 916
Dodgers 59 0.324 3157 1023 61 0 24 986 5.98% 927
Astros 49 0.316 3158 998 47 2 31 984 4.98% 935
Tigers 64 0.335 3169 1062 83 0 30 1009 6.35% 945
Cardinals 89 0.341 3201 1092 77 0 24 1039 8.57% 950
Royals 62 0.327 3189 1043 57 1 37 1024 6.06% 962
Reds 50 0.331 3257 1078 88 0 39 1029 4.86% 979
Red Sox 77 0.349 3199 1116 91 2 35 1062 7.25% 985
Mets 62 0.336 3198 1075 52 0 33 1056 5.87% 994

Comments

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  • I agree that the number of double plays the White Sox hit into is worrisome, but I think we can all agree that the major downfall of the Sox offense has been Dunn. If Dunn is having his normal year, then this offense is probably middle of the pack even with the struggles of Pierre, Rios and Beckham.

    I also feel that Ozzie should look into changing the lineup with the recent success of Morel in the 2 spot. Move Alexi down to the 6 spot and move Rios to 8th.

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    Exactly. It's a fringe problem. Dunn and Rios' complete absence are the main handicap 'till further notice.

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