If there is one thing the Chicago White Sox are not known for it is their defense. Sure, they have had some good players in the field over the years but on the whole, they have not been one of the better teams in fielding the ball.
2019 was the last 162 game season to see a Southsider take home a defensive award when Yolmer Sanchez won a Gold Glove for his play at second base. That was the team’s first fielding award since pitcher Jake Peavy won one in 2012 and the first by a position player since Robin Ventura in 1998.
In last season’s COVID shortened 60 games, Luis Robert became the second White Sox rookie (Tommy Agee was the first in 1966) to win a Gold Glove Award for his play in center field. Prior to that, the last White Sox outfielder to take home the award was Ken Berry back in 1970.
Even though it was only 60 games, things looked promising for the Sox defense going forward as catchers Yasmani Grandal and James McCann, second baseman Danny Mendick and third baseman Yoan Moncada all were finalists for a Gold Glove at their positions.
The Chicago White Sox needs to play better defensively to go far in the playoffs.
However, the Sox defense was far from stellar this past season and if they want to be where the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves are right now, they will have to shore up things in the field for 2022. Both World Series participants finished tied for first-along with Pittsburgh- in team fielding percentage at .988. The White Sox were tied for 27th with the Twins at .982.
Finishing that low was a result of not being able to steer clear of errors. The White Sox finished sixth in the majors with 97 miscues and was second to last in Defensive Runs Saved at minus 43. The league average in DFS was 16.
The hot corners proved to be strengths of the team defensively as both Moncada at third and Jose Abreu at first played very well. Moncada’s 16 errors were second in the majors behind Boston’s Rafael Dever’s 22, yet he was tied with Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez for first with 11 total runs above average and was third in the AL in Defensive Runs Saved. His .953 fielding percentage was 12th in all of baseball for players with 100 or more games and fourth in the American League.
Abreu was very steady over at first base and turned in yet another solid year committing a career tying low of five errors, which he had all of last year. He coupled that with a .994 fielding percentage which was good enough for third in the AL for those over 100 games.
The White Sox thought second base might be taken care of when they traded for last year’s Gold Glove winner Cesar Hernadez. Not only did he not provide the offense they had hoped for, but he committed 5 errors in 53 games which was the same amount in the same number of games as Nick Madrigal. The 18 errors at the position were third in the AL and their .974 fielding percentage put them tied for 27th in baseball.
As a position, White Sox shortstops committed the third least amount of errors in the AL with 10 and were third in the majors in fielding percentage at .982. However, all of those errors were by Tim Anderson who closed out with a .977 mark. That was still good enough for being in the top ten at the position but he ranked 29th in defensive runs saved.
The area needing the most improvement is behind the plate. Sox catchers allowed the most stolen bases in baseball at 119, although some of that can be attributed to pitchers not holding runners on well enough. The position committed the second-most errors overall with 13, the second most passed balls with 18, was second to last in Defensive Runs Saved at minus 43, and second in errors while fielding the ball with six.
The outfield was hampered by injuries all season and the revolving door of players manning all three spots combined to total 18 errors which were fifth-worst in baseball. Their .981 fielding percentage was 26th overall and only better than the Red Sox .975 in the American League. Robert finished with four errors in 166 chances, which tied him for the team lead with former teammate Adam Eaton.
This team is more than capable of putting up runs as evidenced by what they did this year but preventing opponents from scoring will be paramount come next season. While it does all start with pitching, the fielders will have to do their jobs if the White Sox plan on playing October baseball again.