The Chicago White Sox had a brilliant pitching staff in 2021. There were outstanding starters and electrifying relievers. A lot of it was centered around Liam Hendriks who was the best closer in Major League Baseball during the season. He was signed as a free agent leading into the 2021 campaign and has been worth every penny of his lucrative contract.
Hendriks was nothing short of brilliant as the team’s closer. He was an American League All-Star and a Reliever of the Year award winner because of his dominance. In 71.0 innings over 69 appearances, he had an ERA of 2.54 and a WHIP of 0.732.
He was also incredible with his command. He threw 113 strikeouts and only had seven walks which is an incredible ratio. His ability to punch out hitters is as good as any reliever active in Major League Baseball right now.
When the White Sox went into the ninth inning with the lead, there were few teams that had a chance once Liam was in. He had a 2.6 WAR as someone who really only threw an inning per appearance so it shows how much of an impact he had.
He also received Cy Young votes for the second consecutive year which is incredible for a reliever. That award is almost exclusively for starters but that is how good Hendriks was at closing out baseball games. He should be very proud of how his first season went in Chicago.
There is one thing that makes Liam Hendriks a little bit more electrifying than the other elite relievers across the league. His attitude is as fun as any player to ever suit up for the White Sox. When he makes a big pitch that creates a big out, he freaks out like a little kid and it is so much fun to watch. He is perfect for this team and this town.
2021 Final Grade: A+
There is no other grade to give Liam Hendriks other than an A+. Almost every reliever in the league wants to be doing what Liam Hendriks is doing for their teams. He combines his outstanding fastball with some nasty breaking stuff to create big late-inning outs for the White Sox and did it at the most elite level in 2021. His demeanor on the mound also really helps calm the team down in the most intense moments of a game.
It is hard to say that any one player will be the best reliever in the league in any given season but Hendriks will be amongst the best in 2022. The White Sox will likely be one of the best teams in the American League again and Liam Hendriks will surely be there to help them close out these games. Expect another outstanding year from their elite closer.