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.
|I||ROE||Total OB||Kill %||Runners Left|