Thursday, December 7, 2023

Getz Aims To Strengthen White Sox Defense: “Need to Become More Athletic”


With the offseason officially underway, nobody has more work to do than White Sox General Manager Chris Getz. That starts with improving defensively. 

Getz emphasized the White Sox need to clean up their defense so White Sox pitchers can attack the strike zone. That line of thinking makes sense for an organization that ranked seventh in the MLB in errors and has a slew of young arms waiting to get a shot in the starting rotation.  

“I am set out to really improve our defensive play,” Getz told reporters at the annual General Managers meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona on Tuesday. “It will allow our pitchers to attack the zone and be more efficient. I do believe that we need to become more athletic. That speaks to the improved defense we hope.”

The quote adds a little bit of context to his line of thinking when he decided to decline Tim Anderson’s $14 million club option. Anderson’s 14 errors were tied for sixth most in the AL. He also had an Outs Above Average of -1 which placed him in the MLB’s 31st percentile.

Anderson wasn’t the only culprit. The White Sox had the fourth-worst Total Fielding Runs Above Average, which measures the number of runs above or below average a player was worth based on the number of plays made. As a team, the White Sox had a -65 rating in that department. Only the Athletics, Cardinals, and Angels were worse.

Andrew Benintendi had an OAA of -10, placing him in the league’s second percentile. Benintendi also ranked in the second percentile in Arm Value, according to Baseball Savant. Runners who tried to take an extra base on him were safe 97 percent of the time. He also committed the most errors of his career since 2017.

Andrew Vaughn posted a Run-Value of -5 and an OAA of -7 at first base. White Sox pitchers and catchers also allowed the most stolen bases in the MLB. Meanwhile are also still holes in right field and second base that need to be filled.

The quest for improvement also means nobody is safe from a position change. Getz said he was willing to see Yoan Moncada switch positions if it helped the White Sox improve defensively. 

“He’s played second base with us,” Getz said. “I think he’s a better third baseman than second baseman. That doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be some days perhaps he goes over to second or plays first base and perhaps even outfield. We’ll do what is best for our club.” 

If Getz is serious about improving the team’s defense then this is a ridiculous comment when taken at face value. 

Even Getz had to acknowledge that playing the outfield would put more stress on an injury-prone Moncada, who dealt with back and leg issues last season, saying that the position changes would be “health dependent.”  

Moncada has also never played first base or the outfield. He has played 203 games at second base. But as Getz admitted he is a much better third baseman. 

In 2018 Moncada led the American League in errors committed as a second baseman, with 21. His full body of work at second base is not much better. In two seasons at second, Moncada had an Outs Above Average of -2 and -18. He also posted a -4 in Defensive Runs Saved. 

In his first season at third base, his OAA shot up to 6. He also ranked second amongst all American League third basemen in putouts. However, Moncada is not a Gold Glover in the hot corner by any means. In 515 games at third base, he generated a -5 DRS. 

The thought of moving Moncada to the outfield or back to second base was part of a broader point Getz was trying to make. The White Sox are willing to do whatever it takes to improve, even if that means experimenting with shifting players around on defense. 

If that means moving Moncada over to second base to keep him healthy so be it. If he turns out to be surprisingly good in right field and it helps the White Sox improve on defense, so be it. 

The White Sox have ranked in the bottom of the league for the last three seasons, according to FanGraphs. Something needs to change, hence why Getz is open to experimenting by moving players around the diamond.

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