Chicago White Sox: Aaron Rowand’s defense was valuable

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The 2005 Chicago White Sox team was phenomenal, but never would’ve been so great without the help of one man’s defense.

The Chicago White Sox fanbase will forever adore the 2005 team that won the World Series against the Houston Astros.

When you think of that team, you probably think of Mark Buehrle, Paul Konerko, Bobby Jenks, Jermaine Dye, and more.

Aaron Rowand, who certainly has been given his fair share of praise as well, was arguably one of the most valuable components of that team.

Strangely enough, though, it was in a season where he fell backward offensively.

After registering a superb 131 wRC+ in 2004, the right-handed hitter managed to have a below-average 93 wRC+ to go along with a .270/.329/.407 slash line, 13 home runs, and 69 RBI in 2005.

His fWAR also went down from 5.8 to 3.8 in that span (FanGraphs).

Nonetheless, the latter number is still pretty high and the way he got to that number was extremely valuable for the South Side.

He registered an elite 15 DRS and 17.4 UZR over 1,367 2/3 innings that season. That spanned 157 games in the regular season, so he was certainly a consistent force to be reckoned with in center field.

The Chicago White Sox were a very good team defensively that season, which is something that this current team could struggle with this year if and when baseball resumes.

Scott Podsednik ranked right behind Rowand with 9 DRS in left field and a 6.4 UZR, which made for an outfield where fly balls went to die, especially for right-handed hitters pulling the ball.

There’s no question that helped the pitching staff, given that every pitcher other than Bobby Jenks and Orlando Hernandez that made at least 10 starts/appearances had a FIP that was higher their ERA (Baseball-Reference).

That means that defense helped improve their overall statistics, and in some cases even by full runs such as Neal Cotts (1.94 ERA as compared to a 2.95 FIP) and Cliff Politte (2.00 ERA as compared to a 3.75 FIP).

Rowand also was pretty helpful in the World Series at the plate, hitting .294 while scoring two runs in the four games.

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Without Aaron Rowand, that 2005 never would have finished how they did and his defense that season will forever go down as one of the most elite ever had by a center fielder.