Entering the series against the Los Angeles Angels, the White Sox rank last in all of baseball with a .966 fielding percentage. However, they are tops in the majors (or worst if you really think about it) in errors committed with 20 through 17 games.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are next to last with 17 blunders while the Cincinnati Reds are the best at handling the ball right now with an astounding three errors. The Kansas City Royals, who just left town having taken two of three games from the White Sox, have committed just four errors.
Things don’t get much better when considering the number of putouts and assists. The White Sox are dead last in assists with 129 and rank 29th with 444 putouts. By comparison, the Toronto Blue Jays are atop MLB with 535 while the Colorado Rockies lead everyone in assists with 190.
The Chicago White Sox have been so bad on defense to start the season.
Tim Anderson has far and away gotten out of the gates slowly as his seven errors lead all shortstops. His worst game came back on April 20th against the Cleveland Guardians in which he committed three errors in an 11-1 loss. He followed that up with two more the following game and another when the team opened a series up in Minnesota.
What makes those numbers stand out is it marks a huge drop-off from last season when Anderson committed a career-low 10 errors and recorded a career-high .977 fielding percentage which was fifth-best in the American League.
While his glovework improved last year, he really had nowhere to go but up considering he led all AL shortstops in errors each season from 2017 thru 2019, finishing with a combined total of 74.
However, the blame for the team’s poor showing doesn’t just fall on Anderson’s shoulders. It is a total team effort that has made them one of the worst fielding teams in baseball over the years.
Since 2017, the White Sox have finished each season in the top 10 in errors, ranking as high as third in ’17. The last time the White Sox finished outside the top 10 was in 2016 when they were 15th overall.
Prior to that ’16 season, the White Sox ranked second, fourth, and seventh from 2013 to 2015 respectively. Under the heading of “What a Difference a Year Makes”, the 2012 White Sox recorded the fewest errors in the majors with 70.
The defense has long been an issue with this team and has not really gotten better. Yes, the team can boast that Dallas Keuchel and Luis Robert have won Gold Glove Awards the last two seasons. Before that, Yolmer Sanchez in 2019 was the last non-pitcher to take home the award since Robin Ventura in 1998.
The inability to cleanly field the ball regularly has plagued this team for years and heading into this season the hope was the team would really emphasize the need to play better defense. That has not been the case to this point and it has cost them.
Josh Harrison was brought in this offseason to solidify the second base spot but injuries have kept the 34-year-old on the bench. Even though he ranks fourth in fielding percentage for active second basemen, he has not been able to contribute as much as the team has hoped.
The offense was viewed as something that could cover defensive deficiencies for a while but the bats have gone silent and have not been productive. The combination of those two things produced an eight-game losing streak that has dropped the team into third place.
Even though the team has had its fair share of injuries, that excuse can’t be used as the main reason the team has started off as they have. The bats are likely to come around when the weather improves but the defense cannot continue to be a liability because if it is, the team may not find themselves playing postseason baseball.