Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, July 2, 2024 -- "AL Central Notes"


This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider.

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Chicago White Sox

The alphabet is a bitch sometimes, isn’t it? No one wants to see the White Sox leading a column, and yet here we are. The Sox are 24-62, a recent three-game winning streak pushing them a bit better than a 120-loss pace. This won’t be a fun story, though it will be a story, especially if the roster gets worse at the trade deadline.

In the middle of this mess, though, the Sox have a 1-2 punch atop their rotation that’s the envy of every team in baseball. 

“It’s Not Your Fault” (best top two starters’ bWAR, 2024)

White Sox   7.7 (Crochet 4.0, Fedde 3.7)
Royals      6.8 (Lugo 4.2, Ragans 2.6)
Tigers      6.1 (Skubal 3.9, Flaherty 2.2)
Braves      5.5 (Lopez 3.0, Sale 2.5)
Reds        5.3 (Greene 2.8, Abbott 2.5)

This won’t last. Garrett Crochet has thrown 101 1/3 innings and it’s hard to see him finishing out the season in the rotation given a previous professional high of 54 1/3. Erick Fedde is an excellent candidate to be traded. Today, though, the White Sox have the best 1-2 punch on the worst team in baseball. How rare is that?

There are a few ways to get at this question, but what I did was look for teams that had two five-win starters and played sub-.400 baseball. Turns out there are just four AL/NL teams that meet the criteria, three of them from more than 100 years ago...and the 2013 White Sox. Those Hose went 63-99 even as Chris Sale and Jose Quintana posted five-win campaigns. 

These Sox could be a lot worse than that, maybe not even getting to 50 wins or a .300 winning percentage. If they do so, they’ll have the best 1-2 punch on a terrible team ever. There’s been just one team in baseball history that failed to play .300 baseball while having two four-win starting pitchers, and until today I had never heard of it: the 1886 Kansas City Cowboys of the National League. It was the franchise’s only season in a major league, and they went 30-91 and allowed nearly seven runs a game. Two of their three starters, Jim Whitney and George Weidman, pitched so much -- 393 and 427 innings, respectively -- that they racked up 4.6 bWAR apiece.

There’s pretty much never been a team like these White Sox, heading for one of the worst seasons ever despite having two aces atop its starting rotation.