Despite how much injuries and COVID affected all Major League teams this past season, the Chicago White Sox were fortunate to have enough depth to overcome those issues and win the American League Central Division. Repeating as champs and advancing in the postseason will require that there is depth and making sure their key players remain healthy.
Much was made of how the Sox overcame the rash of injuries they experienced in 2021. However, according to Spotrac, the 23 total players who missed time during the year were well behind most of the league. 21 teams saw more players than the Sox spend time off the field and 23 teams had players miss more days than the 1,224 accrued by the Southsiders.
It’s hard to say that injuries really hurt the White Sox based on the aforementioned information and having won the division by 13 games over the second-place Cleveland Indians but it is not a recipe that can work all the time.
Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Adam Engel spent a good deal of time on the disabled list. With teams looking to improve next year, the White Sox will need them all to be healthy as often as possible.
The Chicago White Sox needs their key players to stay healthy over the 2022 season.
In Jimenez’s case, one way to keep him healthy is to have him dial it back a bit in spring training. Here’s some free advice for Eloy regarding that: don’t try to bring back a home run ball in a meaningless Cactus League game. The batter gets a homer to help himself and his team while you stay healthy, thus helping yourself and your team. It’s a win-win for all involved.
One thing to keep an eye on is how often Abreu gets hit by a pitch. Abreu was drilled by a career-high 22 pitches which were fifth-most in the majors. He is as tough as they come but getting hit as often as Abreu has in his career (average of 15 times over 162 games) adds up and not every pitch will hit him in an easily absorbable spot.
A very encouraging sign for the Sox was the reliability of the starting pitchers being available for their turns in the rotation. White Sox starters missed only 62 days while the next closest was Milwaukee at 164. Their health translated into averaging 5.3 innings pitched per game started, which was good enough for third in the majors.
Compared to most teams in how they survived returning to a 162 game schedule, the Sox fared very well. While bench players turned in outstanding performances this season to make that happen, having healthy regulars available more often than not next season will be key to the Sox regaining the AL Central crown.