The hiring of Tony La Russa to be the manager of the Chicago White Sox had its critics. There were a lot of people that were not happy about it. He had recent legal trouble and had been out of baseball for over a decade. One thing that people forgot was that when he was an MLB manager, he was one of the greatest of all time. Now, it is hard to say that he has been anything but brilliant in 2021.
The Chicago White Sox had a lot of injuries in 2021. These aren’t just little bumps or bruises either that caused guys to miss a week. Impact players were missing for months at a time because of some seriously bad luck. Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, and Yasmani Grandal all went down with terrible injuries that caused them to miss significant time. Rick Hahn provided plenty of depth but it was up to Tony La Russa to put that depth to the test.
Through it all, the White Sox continued to win in different ways. La Russa made some mistakes along the way in terms of baseball decisions and there is no doubt about it. However, he did more good than bad. The bullpen figured itself out over the course of the season and it is because of La Russa’s management.
He also has figured out how to push the buttons of hitters. For example, Eloy Jimenez hit a slump during the month of September. In response, Tony moved him down in the lineup. In his first game batting sixth, he hit a baseball to Pluto in the game where the White Sox clinched. It was a huge moment for him in his season. Tony just knows how to get these guys in a successful position.
The Chicago White Sox has seen the best version of Tony La Russa in 2021.
There is something left to prove for Tony, however. This season has been great and fans will never forget it. However, most people only remember what happened in the playoffs of any given year. The White Sox have a roster that is good enough to win the World Series. It is up to La Russa to help guide them in the right direction.
A big key to this season has been bullpen management. With some of the big names they have available to them, it can be difficult to decide who goes where. Tony La Russa has been good at it in the past and he wants to show that he can do it again with this group. Hopefully, La Russa helps the teams as a whole as much in the playoffs as he did in the regular season.