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Tony La Russa’s decision named the worst of 2022

by Joe Binder

Though the damage is already done, Tony La Russa’s questionable decision-making continues to get recognized for just how bad it was in 2022.

The Athletic’s Grant Brisbee recently wrote an article to highlight the worst performances of the past season. Sure enough, the former White Sox manager found his way on the list for his infamous intentional walk to Trea Turner.

“Tony La Russa was always a bad idea for the White Sox. They have a young team that needs the deft touch of a modern baseball mind, and La Russa was … not that. He turned 79 on the penultimate day of the regular season, but he wasn’t around the team to see it because he’d already retired due to health concerns. His second tour with the White Sox was an ignominious end to a Hall of Fame career, and it made it even harder to remember just how cutting-edge La Russa used to be.”

via Grant Brisbee – The Athletic

La Russa’s moment in question came on June 9 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. With the White Sox down 7-5 in the sixth inning, shortstop Trea Turner stepped up to the plate after Freddie Freeman singled to left. Reliever Bennett Sousa managed to jump ahead 0-2 in the count before a wild pitch allowed Freeman to advance to second. Despite it being 1-2, La Russa instructed for an intentional walk that confused just about everyone, including broadcasters Jason Benetti and Steve Stone.

Rather than continue pitching to the Dodgers’ shortstop with first-base open, La Russa elected to have Sousa face Max Muncy in a lefty-lefty matchup with two on. Sure enough, Muncy launched a homer five pitches later and Los Angeles grew their lead to 10-5.

As Brisbee pointed out in his article, Turner had been a .223/.271/.339 hitter when getting to a 1-2 count. Not to mention there were already two outs in the inning. Twitter user Joe Sheehan also broke down the numbers even further in a tweet at the time.

Following the game, La Russa was immediately asked about his decision-making in the postgame presser. The former White Sox manager not only seemed surprised but also visibly aggravated by the questions and began firing back at media members, most notably MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.

“Turner was a strike left against a left-hander,” La Russa explained. “It’s something you can avoid, if you can, and we had an open base and Muncy happened to be the guy behind him. And that’s a better matchup… Now if (Will) Smith was hitting behind him, it would have been a different thing. But Muncy’s there, it’s an easy call.”

La Russa wasn’t the only former White Sox to be highlighted in Brisbee’s recent article. Left-handed starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel was also mentioned as the league’s worst starting pitcher.

“Dallas Keuchel finished with -2.6 WAR, according to Baseball Reference, just a tick worse than Patrick Corbin, who finished with 19 losses. Like Tsutsugo, Keuchel managed to pack a lot of unfortunate baseballing into a limited space, making just 14 starts. It wasn’t the worst WAR in history for a pitcher with fewer than 15 starts, but it was close. Harry Colliflower was worse for the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, and while you didn’t need to know that, boy, did I want to type it.”

via Grant Brisbee – The Athletic

Keuchel went 2-5 with a 7.88 ERA (28 ER/32.0 IP) and 20 strikeouts in eight starts with the White Sox this season, his third with the club. The team ultimately designated him for assignment on May 28, ending his disappointing tenure on the South Side after a strong 2020 season.

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Featured Photo: © Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

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ken miller
The worst LaLoosa decisions were when he had a 6run lead against Cleveland in the 9th inning early in the season and lost. He never could handle a bullpen correctly. The Sox were on a nice winning streak and that game against their #1 rival turned momentum. 

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