Let’s just say that disagreements often stem from a misunderstanding of how a person is using a term. I can’t help but wonder this very thing about Smitty’s comments rebutting my statement, “the Sox are a better team on paper than the Tigers,” from my post, “Week three- embarrassing!” Smitty’s retort to my comment was that it’s “paper thin” from his post, “‘On paper’ argument is paper thin.”
I’m not sure Smitty did any research before making this comment, but it is his “opinion” of my comment. Well, before I made the comment I had looked up some stats, and it pointed out that the current Sox team has better stats then the current Tigers roster, historically. That’s what the term “on paper” refers to, not intangibles, or even currently. You look at the historic numbers at the beginning of the season and say “on paper” this team looks like they are going to win the AL Central. That’s what I did last year and it worked out ok for my predictions, although I must admit that last the year the Twins had better numbers than the White Sox, yet I went with my heart. Whoops!
My comment was not meant as an insult, but I do understand how it can be taken that way, but the Sox are a better team then the Tigers and now I shall present my case. I should point out that while performing my research I found out that their numbers are better than the Tigers currently, except in two very important categories, record and blown saves. Those things tend to work themselves out as the season progresses for teams as talented as the White Sox.
1. Scoring 9 runs in not one, but two games is an accomplishment in of itself, but to do it without the services of Victor Martinez is even more impressive.
This would like a Sox fan saying sweeping a team without the services of Adam Dunn was impressive. V-Mart is living up to his broken down status, of being more like K-mart. His current stats of a .250 batting average with two homeruns and nine RBI’s are almost identical to Dunn. The major difference is Dunn’s batting average of .158, but his .OBP is .314 with an .OPS of .559. Neither has been much of a difference maker thus far, but Dunn has been slowed by an emergency appendectomy surgery which put him a week behind. “My timing is almost there, but the stupid surgery has put me a week behind,” said Dunn yesterday. K-Mart is currently on the DL as I predicted preseason, you can expect that a lot.
2. On paper, I’ll give you that the Sox have a solid rotation, but it lacks a true ace, while the Tigers have not one, but two aces in Verlander and Scherzer…
I think we need define the term “ace” for a pitching staff. A staff ace is someone who’s pitched consistently well year after year, and you can count on that player to give you at least six solid innings. Justin Verlander is an ace for sure, but calling Max Scherzer an “ace” is a stretch. Let’s call Scherzer an ace for the moment, this would mean the Sox rotation is loaded with aces. I won’t bore you with numbers from Scherzer’s first few years with Arizona, but let’s focus on his first year and the start of this season with the Tigers. He’s compiled 16 wins with a 3.46 ERA with 214 k’s.
First, we’ll take a look at John Danks, who over the same timeframe has 15 wins with a 3.65 ERA with 195 k’s. He also had pitched 246 innings to Scherzer’s 226.2 innings. Danks is a staff ace.
Gavin Floyd’s numbers in the same timeframe are 12 wins with a 4.02 ERA with 184 k’s. He’s logged 214.1 innings for the Sox over this time. He also won 17 games two years ago; the same year Scherzer won 9. Might be considered an “ace.”
Edwin Jackson since coming to the White Sox has a 6-4 record with a 3.72 ERA and 107 k’s. He’s pitched 106.1 innings, which projects out to 224 innings over an entire season for the Sox. Jackson also bests Scherzer in k’s and walks per nine innings. Jackson averages 9.1 k’s per nine innings versus Scherzer’s 8.5 k’s per nine, while allowing only 2.5 walks to Scherzer’s 3.3 per nine. If you call Scherzer an “ace” then Jackson is an “ace.”
Finally, we come to Mark Buehrle, the most reliable pitcher in baseball in my opinion. He’s the only pitcher in the last decade to log over 200 innings pitched every year and trails only CC Sabbathia in quality starts. While his numbers have declined at age 32, he’s truly a staff ace. He’s had one perfect game, one no-hitter, been an All-Star four times, holds the record for most consecutive batters retired at 45, has won two golden gloves, and a World Championship. He’s truly an ace, more than Verlander and Scherzer combined.
In the end, I think all the pitchers mentioned above have a lot to prove before calling them an “ace,” except for Buehrle and Verlander.
3. On paper, the Sox have an inexperienced bullpen with no closer, while the Tigers have a proven lights-out 8th/9th inning combo of Benoit and Valverde.
Calling the White Sox bullpen inexperienced is as much a mistruth as calling Benoit “proven.” I will not argue the closer issue, but I think Santos will work out just fine. He was my vote from day one. The White Sox bullpen is proven otherwise. Sports writers have considered Matt Thornton the top setup man for the last few years, and now that he’s back in that role I feel he will settle down.
The “proven” Benoit had one good year with Tampa Bay, he as a lifetime ERA of 4.42 and has failed as a starter, closer and reliever up until last year. It will be interesting to see how the Tigers use him, since at around the 80 inning mark his numbers spike. Last year in Tampa he pitched 60.1 innings, his second fewest ever.
If it only takes, one year to become “proven” then Chris Sale and Sergio Santos are “proven” relievers with lifetime ERA’s barley over two. Let’s not forget the Sox have Jesse Crain who currently has allowed one-hit to left handers over his last 15 plus innings and that Santos kid got his first save over the Yankees yesterday in his first opportunity this year while not allowing a run this season in 11 innings. That’s actually better than Valverde, who’s allowed one run over 9.2 innings.
4. THE BIG THREE and TABLE SETTERS
Barely an argument here, but if you take career home run averages for the White Sox big three and the Tigers big three there’s quite a difference. The Sox big three of Carlos Quentin, Paul Konerko, and Adam Dunn collectively average 103 homeruns, while Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera, and Victor Martinez collectively average 81 homeruns. That’s plus 22 for the Sox for those of you scoring at home.
While Austin Jackson may grow into his shoes at some point, Juan Pierre lead the league in stolen bases last year with 68, and may do the same this season. He currently has five and is batting about 60 points higher then he was last year at the same time. Jackson has two stolen bases at this point and stole 29 last season with a current batting average of .193; that’s 73 points less than Pierre.
The big three for the Sox have currently combined for 32 RBIs, 13 homeruns, and 17 doubles. CQ leads the AL in doubles and total bases.
The big three for the Tigers have currently combined for 25 RBIs, 7 homeruns, and 11 doubles.
If you take team totals you would think the Sox have a winning record, and they would have if not for the bullpen issues in week two and poor fielding. The Sox have 36 doubles, 22 homeruns, and 95 RBIs. The Tigers have 43 doubles, 18 homeruns, and 92 RBIs.
You be the judge, but what the numbers tell me is that the White Sox are a better team then the Detroit Tigers, not only on paper but current statistics would point to the same. The Sox have had some tough luck, especially in Tampa Bay where the Rays outfield got to every ball hit out there. If we’re using the “sports writer” as a benchmark then read the series of articles that have been published in the last week about the “underachieving White Sox.”
Note: Statistics were compiled using MLB.com and baseball-reference.com