White Sox News

Chicago White Sox: Adjustments La Russa and staff must make

byounan
(Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images) /
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In 2021, the Chicago White Sox were one of the best teams in baseball. The team finished with the sixth-best record in the entire league. They commanded the American League Central, finishing 13 games better than the second-place Cleveland Indians.

Although the White Sox had an excellent season, they often struggled to produce runs. According to Fangraphs.com, the White Sox had one of the best offenses in all of baseball, finishing fifth in average (.256), first in BABIP(.310), fifth in wOBA (.329), and third in wRC+ (109).

The White Sox had the third-highest ground ball rate in baseball with 46.1 of all balls in play resulting in ground balls, which could be one of the reasons they struggled.

One of the things Tony La Russa and his staff can try to do is try to get hitters to get the ball in the air more. Hitting the ball in the air helps eliminate double-play opportunities for the opposing team and will help the White Sox produce more opportunities for runners to get into scoring position or score by hitting sacrifice fly balls.

One of the reasons the White Sox struggled against the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series was the inability to score runs with two outs. The Astros thrived in those situations. The Astros scored 18 runs with two outs against the White Sox in the ALDS.

The Chicago White Sox needs to use this offseason to address some things.

Situational hitting should be another focus for the White Sox heading into 2022. If the White Sox capitalize on scoring runners in scoring position, the team can become an even more dangerous offense and eliminate potential dry spells, as seen in 2021.

One of the biggest priorities for the White Sox organization is the situation with Craig Kimbrel. According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the White Sox may be shopping Kimbrel:

If the White Sox decides to retain Kimbrel, La Russa and his staff need to have a sit-down conversation with him and Liam Hendriks to figure out what role each player is comfortable with and how that could benefit the team and make a decision afterward.

Kimbrel was excellent in his time on the Northside in 2021, having a microscopic 0.49 ERA. After coming over to the Southside, he was the complete opposite. He ended the regular season with a 5.09 ERA with the South Siders and finished the season with a 2.26 ERA.

The White Sox figured that adding Kimbrel would give them the best one-two punch at the backend of the bullpen in all of baseball but things didn’t pan out as planned. If Kimbrel can regain his dominance in 2022, the back end of the bullpen could pan out as planned and be an unstoppable force in the postseason.

Lastly, the defense needs to be a key focus for La Russa and his staff heading into 2022. According to ESPN.com, the White Sox were one of the worst teams defensively in baseball, finishing eighth in baseball in errors (92) and finishing 26th in fielding percentage (.983).

Statcast shows that the White Sox finished 27th in defensive shift percentage, shifting only 20.3 percent of the time and it showed. The White Sox gave up an incredible number of hits up the middle to Astros hitters in the ALDS.

Heading into 2022, the White Sox will have acquisitions, adjustments, and decisions to make but expect them to get better and materialize their chance at winning a World Series championship.

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