Chicago White Sox need to improve defense in 2020
The Chicago White Sox were among the worst teams defensively in 2019 and if they want to contend next season, that can’t stay the same.
According to FanGraphs, the team ranked 25th in all of baseball in defensive runs saved (DRS) with -49 this past season.
While this statistic isn’t the end-all-be-all, no team that recorded -40 DRS or higher made the postseason this past season and only two of them finished the season over .500 (New York Mets and Boston Red Sox).
Even though there is a stark difference between the White Sox and Baltimore Orioles (-105 DRS), this is still an issue that needs to be addressed.
The New York Yankees (-18 DRS) were also the only team in the bottom-10 in this department to make the postseason. In addition to that, only three teams in the bottom half of the league made the playoffs with below-average numbers in this category, with the Minnesota Twins (-7 DRS) and Washington Nationals (-2 DRS) being the other two.
Ultimate zone rating doesn’t paint any better of a picture on the White Sox defense as they rank 25th in that as well with a -19.2 UZR.
With that statistic, only one team with a UZR below -10.0 made the postseason in the Atlanta Braves (-10.3 UZR) and four made it with a negative number with the Minnesota Twins (-9.9 UZR), Tampa Bay Rays (-2.1 UZR), and Los Angeles Dodgers (-2.0) being the other three able to make the playoffs still.
So, how can they fix this issue?
Well, the easiest fix would be simply to see improvement from their younger players with Tim Anderson (-9 DRS, -9.1 UZR) and Eloy Jimenez (-11 DRS, -5.1 UZR) struggling the most defensively in 2019.
Anderson graded out as roughly league average in 2018 when he registered 0 DRS and a 0.5 UZR so there’s no reason he couldn’t get back to that level especially as he’s still only 26-years-old.
With Jimenez being 22-years-old, there’s no reason he can’t improve next season as there is absolutely no expectation that his range would decline at this stage of his career.
The other way would be to acquire players via free agency or trade that are already capable defenders around their young core.
Furthermore, the team could just be shifting incorrectly which is something they need to re-evaluate as well going into the 2020 season.
However they improve will be up to the team, but they need to fix this issue.
Defense is not just a single problem and that needs to be recognized. It impacts many aspects of the game as it has been hurting their pitching staff and ability to prevent runs from scoring.
If the Chicago White Sox want to be among the top-tier of the league going forward, they will find a way to fix this issue before next season or else they could find themselves disappointed in the results next season.