Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Five Reasons The White Sox Fell Short In The Playoffs

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At the start of the season, the White Sox made it very clear that the expectations were World Series or bust. After getting eliminated in the ALDS the season can officially be chalked up to a bust. The 2021 season was not supposed to end this way for the Chicago White Sox. 



The team had talent, confidence, and its first division title since 2008. However, cracks were shown during the regular season that also popped up during the postseason. Here are five reasons the Southsiders fell short in the playoffs. 

Situational Hitting

The regular season proved the White Sox offense relied heavily on the long ball. When the White Sox hit a home run they were 79-47. When they hit multiple home runs in the same game they were 44-6. Unfortunately for the White Sox, you need to find other ways to manufacture runs during the postseason.

They could not. In Games 1 and 2 they did not hit a home run and the offense floundered. During Game 4 the only run they were able to score was via a Gavin Sheets solo home run.

In Game 1 the White Sox stranded Yoan Moncada on second base in the fourth inning and then Luis Robert on second in the fifth inning. They also left runners on first and second in the seventh inning and eighth inning. In the ninth inning, they had Luis Robert on second base with nobody out and could not push him home.

The woes continued in Game 2. The White Sox hit into a plethora of rally-killing double plays and finished the game with 20 runners left on base.

In Game 4 the White Sox had runners on first and second but Yasmani Grandal struck out to end the inning. In the fourth inning, the White Sox hit into their second double play of the afternoon but managed to get runners on first and second with two outs. Cesar Hernadez watched strike three blow by him to squash the rally.

The reason the Astros were so dominant was their ability to drive in runs with two outs. The White Sox struggled in that department and it came back to bite them.

Bad Starting Pitching

The White Sox starting rotation was what helped carry the White Sox to the postseason. Their dominant staff posted some of the best numbers in baseball and featured two All-Star in Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodon.

During the playoffs, the wheels fell off. Walks hampered the White Sox ability to limit big innings and none of the starters were able to go deep into games.

Lance Lynn lasted 3.2 innings and allowed five runs on six hits and two walks. Lucas Giolito went 4.1 innings but allowed four runs and walked five. Dylan Cease couldn’t make it out of the second inning. He walked three and allowed three runs on two hits. Carlos Rodon could only make it through two full innings and was pulled before he could make it out of the third. He went 2.2 innings allowing two runs on three hits and walked two.

In total White Sox starting pitching could only muster 12.1 innings and issued 12 walks. That is not going to cut it in the postseason. Too much pressure was put on the White Sox bullpen and they wilted.

Inability To Hold Runners

During the last week of the season Tigers manager, AJ Hinch helped expose a glaring hole in the White Sox defense. Teams can run on the White Sox. During the White Sox three-game series with Detroit, they stole nine bases including four in the final game of the season. That capped off an ugly season for the White Sox in that department.

They allowed the most stolen bases in the MLB and it wasn’t close. Teams stole a whopping 119 bases off White Sox catchers. The next closes team was the Los Angeles Dodgers at 108.

Yasmani Grandal remains one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. Yet, he is lacking in the caught stealing department. Grandal allowed 50 stolen bases during the regular season which is the second-most in the American League. This is despite the fact Grandal missed over a month due to injury.

This is not just the catcher’s fault either. The White Sox pitching staff bears a load of the responsibility for not doing a better job holding runners on and shortening their deliveries when runners are on base.

Lucas Giolito is the biggest culprit of this. A whopping 38 runners have swiped bags on his watch. Meanwhile, 32 bases have been stolen when Carlos Rodon is pitching, which is concerning because he is a lefty and it is easier for lefties to hold runners on first. Clearly, Dusty Baker did his homework.

The Houston Astros are not a big base-stealing team. Kyle Tucker led the team with 14 stolen bases. They rank 27th in the MLB with only 53 stolen bases. But they were still able to run roughshod over the White Sox.

Jake Meyers swiped a bag in Game 3 which opened the flood gates. In Game 4 Jose Altuve stole second base in the third inning. He came around to score. In the fourth inning, Kyle Tucker stole second without drawing a throw, then swiped a third base. His two stolen bases allowed him to score on a Martin Maldonado single moments later. Michael Brantley added insult to injury by stealing another base in the eighth inning. Brantley was coming off a knee injury so he shouldn’t be stealing bases on anyone.

This is an issue the White Sox needs to clean up next season.

Road Record

The White Sox were abysmal on the road this season. They posted a 40-41 on the road. Meanwhile, they were excellent at home winning 53 of their 81 home games. That is why it was so puzzling that the White Sox didn’t try and obtain home-field advantage during the last month of the season. Instead of making a late push to catch Houston Tony La Russa opted to rest players so the White Sox ended up as a three seed.

Well sure enough the White Sox struggled in Houston during the postseason. They were outscored 15 to 5. Their only win of the series came at home. If the White Sox want to take the next step next season they need to be better on the road.

Defense

Defense wins championships. Bad defense gets you eliminated during the ALDS. The White Sox only committed one error during the ALDS but there were some small things that could have shifted the outcome of the series.

During Game 1 Yoan Moncada made a nice play but Jose Altuve was able to beat his throw home to score a run. Had they made that out then the complexion of the inning would have shifted dramatically.

The Astros almost had another big inning in Game 4 when Micheal Kopech momentarily forgot to cover first base, resulting in a play that was way too close for comfort. Eloy Jimenez had a chance to make a play on a pop fly but got a bad jump and the ball dropped in front of him for a single. The White Sox were very bad at hitting the cutoff man during the regular season as well.

Steve Stone appeared on the Laurence Holmes show and went as far as to say “If I had a dollar for every time they missed a cutoff man I would be a very wealthy man. You cannot allow that consistently. I watch Eloy Jimenez miss a cutoff man almost every throw and you wonder ‘wait a second why is this going on all the time?’ And it’s not just Eloy, it’s just that he seems to believe he can throw through and get everybody out. Well, when you do that the trailer inevitably takes another 90 feet.” 

During the regular season, Yoan Moncada ranked eighth in the MLB in errors. As a team, the White Sox committed 97 errors which are the sixth most in the MLB. Their .983 fielding percentage ranked 27th in the MLB putting them in the cellar with teams like the Mets, Diamondback, Twins, and Marlins. That is not a class of teams you want to be associated with.



Mitchell Kaminski
Mitchell studies sports communications at Bradley University and works for Braves Vision, an organization that works alongside ESPN broadcasting games and covering Bradley sports. Creator of Dorm Room Dispute podcast.

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