The Chicago White Sox, with all things considered, was a very good baseball team in 2021. They went 93-69 and won the American League Central Division for the first time since 2008. They also made it back to the postseason in a consecutive year for the first time in franchise history.
With all of that talent, it makes sense why they were so good but that isn’t the only thing. The team needs to be put in a position to succeed and the manager usually has a lot to do with that. For the White Sox, Tony La Russa was the man in charge.
It was a controversial hire made by the White Sox with guys like AJ Hinch and Alex Cora available but Jerry Reinsdorf, whether Rick Hahn will admit it or not, wanted his guy in Tony. La Russa was the manager of the White Sox in the 1980s but was wrongly fired. Since then, he became one of the winningest coaches in the history of the sport.
His second chance with the White Sox had a bumpy start. Before the season even began, details of his DUI came out and it was the second one that he has had. It made a lot of people upset with him and the White Sox but they worked through the trouble.
On the field, people were looking for any reason to hate on La Russa. There were some early season adjustments that he had to make to the game after returning from a decade-long hiatus from coaching. During that hiatus, however, he was put in the Hall of Fame and was still involved in the sport.
He needed to adjust to some of the new rules implemented over the last few years like the runner on second base rule. He also wasn’t great in handling the Yermin Mercedes drama that came after he hit a home run on a 3-0 pitch in a blowout. Once again, however, they got through it.
Tony La Russa was a good manager for the Chicago White Sox during the 2021 season.
2021 Final Grade: B
You can’t give Tony La Russa an A. He had his drama early and the team failed to advance in the playoffs after a dominant season. There is a lot of room for improvement for this team with La Russa leading the way as the manager. La Russa also had great moments of defending his players on the field and galvanizing his team which is why he gets a B.
His lineups and his bullpen management were good but not elite in 2021. It is an adjustment for him to make this offseason as he now has a year with this group under his belt. It will be interesting to see how they respond to him going forward.
Tony La Russa will be the team’s manager in 2022. Expect him to learn a lot from what the team went through with injuries and complications in the playoffs to advance their chances. With a fully healthy roster (we hope), it should be a fantastic year.