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White Sox Report Card: 2022 First Half Grades

by Jordan Lazowski

At the All-Star break this season, the 2022 Chicago White Sox sit at 46-46, three games back of the Twins for the AL Central Division lead. In a season of ups and downs, questionable in-game and lineup decisions, and a lineup that didn’t resemble anything near its 2021 version, it’s rather miraculous that the White Sox find themselves within striking distance in the division.

As Cleveland comes to town tonight to begin a four-game series and the second half of the season, it’s time to take a look back at where we’ve been through the first 92 games and hand out some grades for players and the team as a whole.

Roughly, here is the grading scale:

A: Consistently exceeded expectations and delivered results
B: Met and sometimes exceeded expectations
C: Met expectations
D: Often failed to meet expectations
F: Completely failed to meet expectations

With that, let’s hand out some grades.


Team Grades

White Sox Coaching Staff: D

This grade is heavily impacted by Tony La Russa, who through 92 games, has:

  • Managed a large portion of games with lineups that reflected no sense of urgency
  • Intentionally walked a hitter while up 1-2 in the count, only to have the next batter homer
  • Intentionally walked a hitter while up 0-1 in the count
  • Played platoon matchups where a distinct platoon advantage did not exist
  • Been rather defensive towards media questions regarding in-game decision-making

La Russa’s biggest supporters touted the advantage the White Sox would have with him managing the team. Through 254 regular season games and four playoff games, this advantage really hasn’t presented itself. A manager can only do so much if a roster is either injured or incomplete; however, the players have not consistently been put in the best position to succeed.

Despite Ethan Katz doing whatever he can to bring this grade up, the team’s lack of sharpness on defense (McEwing/Boston), the high number of runners caught at the plate (McEwing), the lack of a clear offensive approach many nights (Menechino), and the list of managerial decisions above, it’s hard to give the team a good grade.

To be fair, things are always better when a team is winning.

White Sox Offense: D

Compare the White Sox offense through the first 92 games of 2021 and 2022, and here’s what you get:

AVGOBPSLGwOBAwRC+HR
2021.257.340.420.33111099
2022.257.311.385.3069980

This doesn’t even mention the drastic decrease in walk rate (from 10.2% to 6.3%) and increase in O-Swing% (from 32.8% to 35.9%). The at-bats haven’t been disciplined, the team has been chasing more often, and they haven’t hit the ball out of the ballpark. They need all three of these things to happen, and had they, the team would be in a far better position.

What’s saving this from a failing grade is the spurts of life the offense shows when they string together great at-bats, work the counts, and the fact that they decided to hit home runs again (19 home runs in July so far compared to 20 total in June).

If this team is going to succeed in the second half, they’re going to need to do so in the way they won three of four from the Twins – not the way they swept the Giants.

Ball go far, team go far.

White Sox Starting Pitching: C

Taking Dallas Keuchel out of the equation and evaluating this as Cease, Giolito, Lynn, Kopech, and Cueto, the reviews have been mixed. Since Keuchel was DFA’d, White Sox starters have ranked just 18th in baseball in fWAR (2.4), 14th in ERA (4.21), 12th in K% (22.9%), and 20th in FIP. Saving this grade are Dylan Cease, pre-dead arm Michael Kopech, and a resurgent Johnny Cueto. Lucas Giolito is working through some inconsistencies that have him looking like a different pitcher than early in the season, while Lance Lynn appears to have some work to do coming back from his knee surgery.

With Dylan Cease as the only Sox starter with an fWAR above 1.0, however, the team has some work to do to pass in the second half.

White Sox Relief Pitching: B

When looking at players like Liam Hendriks, Kendall Graveman, Reynaldo Lopez, Matt Foster in spurts, Aaron Bummer shortly before his injury, and even Joe Kelly and Jose Ruiz at times, it’s easy to see why this team would deserve a solid grade out of the bullpen. However, with many of those listed above injured at some point throughout the first 92 games, it’s left a large number of innings to Tanner Banks, Bennet Sousa, Vince Velasquez, and high-leverage Jose Ruiz, exposing just how big of a loss Garrett Crochet was to this team in hindsight.

Still, the White Sox bullpen is top 10 in baseball in fWAR. They deserve a solid grade for the work they’ve put in as a whole.


Player Grades

Jose Abreu (.304/.387/.470, 11 HR, 46 RBI, 147 wRC+, 3.0 fWAR): A

If you ask most advanced stats people, they’ll tell you Jose Abreu is putting up the best season of his career. He’s walking at the highest rate of his career, his strikeout rate has plummeted, and his chase rate is below 30% for the first time in his career. By all measures, Abreu has been awesome this year, though the rest of the offense’s struggles prevent him from putting up huge counting stats (HR, RBI). He remains at the top of his game at 35 – and outside of 60 games in 2020, he’s never been better.

Dylan Cease (9-4, 2.15 ERA, 2.67 FIP, 34.4 K%, 2.9 fWAR): A

Easy A here for the snubbed All-Star whose stats speak for themselves. Cease is top 5-10 in whatever statistical category you deem important, and he’s stepped up as an ace of a staff that has been lacking a consistent one throughout the season. The scary thing is that he can still get even better if he manages his walks a bit better. But, he’s managed his pitch counts much better this season.

Andrew Vaughn (.301/.350/.470, 10 HR, 48 RBI, 134 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR): A

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that this is Andrew Vaughn’s sophomore season of a career that has never seen the locker rooms in Birmingham and Charlotte (outside of a rehab stint). While fWAR will penalize him for being bad defensively while playing out of position, Vaughn is proving himself to be a player that the White Sox and their fans are happy they never traded.

Liam Hendriks (1-2, 2.35 ERA, 2.33 FIP, 36.9 K%, 1.0 fWAR) : A

For as much as White Sox fans question the amount of money spent on the bullpen in recent seasons, Hendriks has been worth every penny and then some. He’s been unquestionably one of the top relievers in the game over the past two seasons, earning All-Star honors both years in a White Sox uniform. So long as his arm continues to hold up, Hendriks will be a bullpen piece the team doesn’t regret spending money to acquire.

Reynaldo Lopez (4-2, 2.79 ERA, 1.66 FIP, 26.5 K%, 1.4 fWAR): A

The Reynaldo Lopez Resurgence has continued into 2022, as a switch to the bullpen in 2021 has turned him into, by fWAR, the best reliever in the bullpen so far this season. Hopefully, the White Sox can find a way to stretch him out into more of a multi-inning reliever; though, I won’t complain about this version.

Johnny Cueto (4-4, 2.80 ERA, 3.97 FIP, 19.5 K%, 0.8 fWAR): A

If you were a fan who thought the Cueto signing was a washed pitcher replacing a washed pitcher in Keuchel, you’ve been pleasantly surprised. Cueto has shown he has plenty left in the tank while making the argument that he’s a top two pitcher in this rotation while others struggle. He’s a true pitcher in how he conducts himself on the mound, and each young member of the Sox rotation would do well to learn from him.

Kendall Graveman (3-1, 2.21 ERA, 3.11 FIP, 22.5 K%, 0.6 fWAR) : A

Graveman filled in well for an injured Hendriks, and outside of a few bad outings, has been exactly what the White Sox were hoping for when he came over on a three-year deal.

Danny Mendick (.289/.343/.443, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 126 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR): A-

It’s no easy feat to step in and replace a sparkplug like Tim Anderson when injured. Mendick did just that, and before an unfortunate ACL injury, was making an argument to be the starting second baseman. Looking forward to seeing Mendick back in a Sox uniform soon.

Luis Robert (.301/.334/.461, 12 HR, 54 RBI, 126 wRC+, 2.2 fWAR): B+

Luis Robert has struggled mightily at times, showing a lack of discipline at the plate that leads to prolonged struggles at times. That being said, for him to struggle as he has at times while still posting the numbers he has shows just how impressive Robert can be. With some improved discipline at the plate and some improved routes in the outfield, he could be a huge part of the second half for the White Sox.

Tim Anderson (.310/.351/.416, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 121 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR): B+

It’s hard to give an All-Star a non-A grade, but with his recent July stretch (.230/.279/.297) and spotty defense throughout the season, Anderson has had plenty of highs and lows. He’s still the face of this franchise, and he’s shown signs of turning things around as of late. At the end of the day, he remains a crucial part of this team’s success.

Jake Burger (.250/.302/.458, 8 HR, 26 RBI, 114 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR): B+

Burger filled in admirably for Moncada and proved that he can hold his own in the majors offensively. His defense is far from his calling card, but he has proven he belongs and remains an awesome example of perseverence.

Seby Zavala (.286/.337/.440, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 122 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR): B

It’s unclear if his recent hot stretch at the plate is sustainable, and a .400 BABIP from a catcher should probably advise you from thinking it will. However, he’s drawn positive reviews from two veterans in Lynn and Cueto and has shown above-average pitch calling abilities. He’s also been really solid behind the plate (+2 catcher framing runs). That alone warrants consideration for him to stay on the active roster once Grandal returns.

Michael Kopech (3-6, 3.36 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 21.6 K%, 0.8 fWAR): B

Kopech’s recent dead arm/knee issues have slowed down what was an awesome start to his first full season as a starting pitcher. It remains to be seen how many innings Kopech will be allowed to throw this year, but if the White Sox stay too close to Minnesota into late August/early September, it will be hard for the club to finish the home stretch of the regular season while still saving innings for Kopech in the playoffs. 2022 Kopech is on a very similar line as 2020-2021 Dylan Cease, however, in terms of development.

Aaron Bummer (0-1, 3.06 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 26.3 K%, 0.2 fWAR): B

Bummer got off to a pretty rough start to the season, but by the time of his injury, he had pretty much silenced any outcries on poor performance by posting 12 straight scoreless outings. The team hasn’t found a reliable left-handed arm to replace him, so hopefully, his return isn’t too far away.

Davis Martin (1-3, 4.67 ERA, 4.18 FIP, 17.4 K%, 0.2 fWAR): B

Martin has shown some pretty impressive stuff in limited exposure, and at this rate, could find himself battling for the fifth spot in the rotation in 2023.

Jimmy Lambert (0-2, 2.66 ERA, 4.24 FIP, 20.2 K%, 0.1 fWAR): B

Since being converted to a reliever, Lambert’s stuff has played up. His fastball has seen a tick-up in velocity, and his slider and changeup are legitimate second and third offerings. The White Sox may have found a future reliever with Lambert.

Matt Foster (1-2, 4.71 ERA, 4.13 FIP, 24.5 K%, 0.1 fWAR): B

After a pretty brutal 2021 campaign, Foster bounced back in the first half of 2022 with an emphasis on throwing a third pitch – his slider – far more often than he was last season. The results have turned him back into a pretty reliable low-to-medium-leverage bullpen arm.

Josh Harrison (.232/.304/.367, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 94 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR): B-

After a brutal start to the season that led to calls for Harrison to be DFA’d, the second baseman has hit .287/.350/.463 over his last 32 games. This is everything the Sox were hoping to get from Harrison and then some, and hopefully, he can continue positive production throughout the rest of the season. Even when struggling to hit, he’s been a master with the glove.

Adam Engel (.256/.309/.375, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 95 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR): B-

Engel continues to prove himself as one of the best centerfielders in the league while providing enough offense to stick as a very valuable fourth outfielder. Should Robert continue to battle any “lightheadedness” throughout the second half, Engel has shown he’s more than capable of filling in while providing some disciplined plate appearances.

Kyle Crick (2-0, 4.02 ERA, 3.17 FIP, 28.8 K%, 0.1 fWAR): C+

Crick had done a decent job in low-leverage situations throughout the season before his injury. It’s not clear if he will fit back in the bullpen when he is healthy enough to return, but his numbers and struggles with walks at times were similar to the rest of his career.

Jose Ruiz (1-0, 3.62 ERA, 4.69 FIP, 25.5 K%, -0.2 fWAR): C+

The difference-maker for Jose Ruiz in 2022 has been the addition of a power changeup, which has allowed a sense of confidence in limited opportunities in high-leverage situations. The jury is still out on whether or not those limited opportunities should see an increase in volume, but for now, he does well in the role he’s in.

Reese McGuire (.228/.265/.290, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 58 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR): C

Reese McGuire has been exactly as advertised: great defensively (11 CS, +1 framing run) and pretty limited offensively (58 wRC+). He’s a prototypical backup catcher. He finds himself in a timeshare with Zavala until Grandal’s return and is potentially in danger of losing a roster spot at this point.

Lucas Giolito (6-5, 4.69 ERA, 4.28 FIP, 27.1 K%, 0.8 fWAR): C

It’s been a really weird season for Lucas Giolito. After posting an impressive 2.63 ERA through his first seven starts, Giolito followed that up with a string of five starts with a 9.47 ERA. His last four outings have shown improvements, as he’s thrown at least six innings in each of them with a combined 2.88 ERA in 25 innings. His strikeout numbers and fastball velocity still aren’t where we are used to seeing them, and if the White Sox are going to succeed in the second half, Giolito is as close to a necessity as it gets for this team.

Tanner Banks (1-0, 3.05 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 20.9 K%, 0.1 fWAR): C

Banks, by default, has won the battle to be the left-hander in the bullpen with Aaron Bummer injured. He’s had his ups and downs, and for the most part, has been limited to low leverage where he’s done well enough to justify some more innings here and there when needed.

Lenyn Sosa (.083/.154/.167, 0 HR, 0 RBI, -10 wRC+): C

In a short stint with the club, Sosa proved to be adequate and worthy of a longer look sometime down the road as the second baseman of the future. Though the results weren’t there, the quality of at-bats was impressive for his age and experience level.

Gavin Sheets (.224/.288/.371, 7 HR, 22 RBI, 90 wRC+, -0.5 fWAR): C

Since coming back from Charlotte, Sheets has hit .260/.325/.452 while looking like a much different hitter at the plate. The .777 OPS since June 23 is still a bit low for a slugger like Sheets, and his defense in right field leaves something to be desired (though, not his fault). However, he serves as a quality left-handed bat as Yoan Moncada works out of his funk and Yasmani Grandal is out with an injury.

Yoan Moncada (.213/.263/.337, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 70 wRC+, 0.2 fWAR): C-

A recent hot stretch in which Moncada has shown signs of turning things around saved his ability to achieve a grade that started with a “C.” Over his last 14 games, Moncada is hitting .294/.346/.471 and is hitting fastballs at a pretty good clip. Moncada’s shown his value to the White Sox offense, ironically, by not producing. When he is not producing from the left side, it’s difficult for this offense to succeed. He is a key heading into the final 70 games.

Vince Velasquez (3-3, 5.21 ERA, 4.70 FIP, 20.6 K%, 0.2 fWAR): D

The $3M project of the year for Ethan Katz has been far from the result he got from Carlos Rodon last year, though it’s fair to debate if the ceilings of these two projects were even of equal height in the first place. The talent is there, but you can understand why Phillies fans grew so frustrated by the difference between his potential and results.

Lance Lynn (1-3, 7.50 ERA, 4.78 FIP, 21.1 K%, 0.1 fWAR): D

Lynn recently came back from knee surgery and has looked like a pitcher who missed a few months of the season. The pedigree is there for the 35-year-old to get back on track, but the club is going to need him to do it sooner than later as the dog days of August loom.

Joe Kelly (0-2, 7.56 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 27.7 K%, 0.1 fWAR): D

Kelly came to the team rehabbing an elbow injury and has shown spurts of being really good, but has also shown spurts of being really bad. Though his contract is resembling more of a Kelvin Herrera-type deal at current, a turnaround is still likely from someone with a clear history of success and some really good pure stuff on the mound. The FIP shows that better days are likely ahead.

Eloy Jimenez (.197/.239/.303, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 53 wRC+, -0.4 fWAR): D

Jimenez had a 75% ground ball rate to start the season before getting injured. He came back, hit a huge homer in his first weekend, struggled, and then got hurt again in the outfield. The best ability is availability, and that has been lacking for Jimenez for quite some time.

Yasmani Grandal (.185/.294/.237, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 59 wRC+, -0.3 fWAR): D

Like Jimenez, the best ability is availability. Grandal has been out for a large portion of the season due to injury, and the times he was in the lineup were hampered by issues getting his knee to full strength. He looked great in his AAA rehab assignment and will be joining the club to start the second half, so hopefully, we see a turnaround like the one we saw when he returned in the second half last season.

AJ Pollock (.227/.268/.333, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 71 wRC+, -0.6 fWAR) : D

A three-week stretch in which Pollock was hitting everything in sight (.321/.361/.487) saves this from being a failing grade, but outside of those 19 games, it’s been a rough season for Pollock. He’s too good to fall off this quickly, though he will need to begin to lift the ball a bit more to be successful. Well, that and prevent himself from pulling off pitches on the outside corner of the plate. Luis Robert is not the player you want to mimic in that area.

Bennett Sousa (3-0, 8.41 ERA, 5.47 FIP, 12.5 K%, -0.3 fWAR) : D

In the White Sox merry-go-round to find a suitable left-handed reliever for Aaron Bummer in his injury absence, Sousa will best be remembered for being the one on the mound for the 1-2 intentional walk to Trea Turner and eventual three-run homer by Max Muncy. He had a few bright spots, but it was tough sailing for Sousa.

Anderson Severino (0-0, 6.14 ERA, 3.11 FIP, 26.5 K%, 0.0 fWAR): D

Severino also lost the lefty-to-pitch-when-Aaron-Bummer-was-hurt competition and has struggled with strikes down in the minors as well. He got a cup of coffee, but that might be all he gets until he harnesses his command.

Ryan Burr (1-1, 6.00 ERA, 7.22 FIP, 17.9 K%, -0.3 fWAR): F

We wish Burr all the best in his recovery from Tommy John Surgery. He has too good of stuff to get a failing grade.

Adam Haseley (.250/.318/.250, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 70 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR): F

The story of his career has been true for Haseley in 2022: looks great in AAA, but looks overmatched in limited action in the majors. Chris Getz and the White Sox have talked about a swing path change that’s been implemented for Haseley, but it’s going to be hard for him to find chances to prove himself on this roster.

Dallas Keuchel (2-5, 7.88 ERA, 6.17 FIP, 12.2 K%, -0.3 fWAR): F

DFA’d by two teams in the first half of the season. Tough to have a rougher first half than that.

Leury Garcia (.205/.232/.262, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 39 wRC+, -1.0 fWAR): F

Garcia receives an unnecessary amount of grief from fans – myself included – who would simply prefer to see him in the lineup less. In previous seasons, despite fan complaints, he would do enough to warrant consistent at-bats. This season, however, is far from one of those cases. As Josh Harrison shows signs of life at the major league level and Lenyn Sosa and Yolbert Sanchez show an ability to be future contributors, it’s fair to question how the team felt a three-year deal was warranted here.


What did you think of the player grades? Too harsh/too light? Let us know in the comments!

Stay tuned for our second-half preview later today, and get ready for another 70 games of White Sox baseball to come!


Follow us @SoxOn35th for more updates throughout the second half!

Featured Image: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports


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profhambone

What grade would you give the Front Office? I say a D because of the 2B problem and the RF dilemma. I also think that the Starting pitching is on a downward path and Lynn is near the end of his days as a starter. Losing Rodon was very harsh and not replaced by equal quality. Cueto works now but do you want him back next year? And LaRussa is not up to par with the average manager in MLB. He looks lost far too much. Bad lineups and a team with little energy and drive. Do they believe they… Read more »

ALFRED Sanchez

I think you was right on all the grades. Josh Harrison is my only questionable grade. He needs to do less showboating and be more consistent at the right time.

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