Yeah that's right, I'm not writing one of those ubiquitous season preview columns. There will be future installments of Extreme Makeover, however. For the most part, these season preview things are a dime a dozen -- Neyer had a decent one a few weeks ago, but that was an Insider article, so I didn't link it. -- Studes, of the Hardball Times actually has one that's worth reading.THT: Five Questions: Chicago White Sox
Head on over and read the whole thing, then come back here, and I'll chime in with a couple of thoughts. No, I'm serious... go read it, now. There'll be a quiz later.* * * * *
Two things really stuck out for me in that recap:
- When discussing the Sox OBP and subsequent RISP avg., where the Sox were either really good or really bad, depending on your perspective, Studes brings up this:
In fact, if you look at the number of times Sox batters actually reached base (OBP without the home runs), the Sox were virtually last in the league with a .305 figure. Tamp Bay was last at .303.I had never thought of subtracting HR from the equation before. I don't know why, and I feel stupid for not thinking of it first, but this actually helps illustrate why the Sox offense shouldn't face the drop-off that lesser columnists are predicting. I don't think they'll hit the 242 HR that they reached last year, but I'd eat my hat if they don't break 200 this season, and they should make up for the modest loss of HRs by getting more guys into scoring position the conventional way(hitting & walking) and the hard way(stealing & the dreaded productive out).
- In question number four, when talking about the bullpen studes introduces this:
Studes doesn't fully explain what the numbers on the left represent, but I'm reasonably sure that they represent the difficulty of the situation the reliever inherited. The most difficult situation would be bases loaded, nobody out; and last year we all know what that meant... Thriller. Studes attributes the high FIP for the Sox in the most critical situations to Marte's down year, and he's probably partially right, but I know of at least 2 occasions where first pitch "fastballs" got a one way flight to the outfield seats for a grand slam last season care of Thriller. I can think of another that went for a bases clearing double. Plus we had a half season of Billy Koch. The bullpen will be even more improved than Studes numbers indicate simply with the departure of these two.
P All Sox...Most teams bring in their best pitchers when the game is on the line, which is why their FIP decreases as their P increases (does that sound funny, or is it just me?). The Sox, on the other hand, had a 7.70 FIP when the game was in its more critical junctures. That's just not good, and needs to improve in 2005.
0-0.1 4.22 4.43
0.1-0.2 3.98 5.05
0.2-0.3 3.75 4.70
0.3-0.4 3.57 7.70