White Sox

Poor base running hurt 2015 White Sox in a big way

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Poor base running hurt 2015 White Sox in a big way

There are several statistics you could point to as a key for a failed White Sox campaign that ended with a 6-0 loss the Detroit Tigers on Sunday afternoon.

But perhaps the one that best exemplifies a stumble that took the White Sox from postseason aspirations to narrowly avoiding the American League Central cellar is Outs On The Bases.

For while the White Sox offense scored the fewest runs in the AL, the defense was at or near the bottom of almost every metrical measure and the starting pitching wasn’t as good as they had hoped, there’s no question the 2015 White Sox were also felled by many self-inflicted wounds. Even though they entered Sunday with the fifth-worst on-base percentage in the majors, the White Sox somehow ran into a major league-leading 74 outs, according to baseball-reference.com -- 19 more than the league average.

“There are some mistakes you can make that look aggressive and some you make that don’t look aggressive, that just look like you’re not paying attention,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “There were too many of those.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Outs On The Bases doesn’t include stolen base attempts nor do runners who are picked off count. Same for force plays.

They’re merely an accumulation of plays where runners are thrown out stretching singles into doubles, contact plays that result in easy outs at home, or players caught trying to advance on balls that get away from the catcher, etc. If you’ve seen more than a handful of White Sox games this season, you’ve seen your fair share.

While they can represent an aggressive mindset (which is good if properly used), Outs On The Bases also can make a team appear as if it has no idea what it’s doing.

In Friday’s 2015 postmortem, general manager Rick Hahn said base running is one of the issues that plagued the White Sox this season.

“The mistakes on the bases, are far, far too numerous and not the brand of baseball we want to play,” Hahn said.

While fans on social media blame the coaching staff for these mistakes, Hahn and the players disagree. Hahn said players fundamentally hadn’t lived up to his expectations.

[MORE: Eaton set for offseason shoulder surgery]

But Ventura said he understands the criticism levied toward the coaching staff and said it comes with the position. Ventura is OK with aggressive outs, but not the ones caused by mental mistakes. He hopes next season’s team is more aware of the situation and alert, looking to coaches, paying attention to stop signs, etc.

“A lot of it is really what’s going on in the head as they’re running around, paying attention to Joe (McEwing) a little bit more,” Ventura said. “You continue to work at it. You continue to try to get them to learn when those situations are and when they aren’t. We have some guys who are young and haven’t been in the league all that long, so there is a certain element, and you want them to get it quicker rather than later.”

Leadoff man Adam Eaton, who made a team-high 12 Outs On The Bases,hopes experience gives White Sox players have a better idea what not to do in the future. He believes the mistakes fall squarely on the shoulders of the players, not the coaches. Echoing Hahn’s sentiments, Eaton said it’s not because of poor preparation -- plenty of work goes into base running in spring training.

[ALSO: Shuck thriving as pinch-hit specialist]

“Coaching is not the problem,” Eaton said. “We were well prepared coming into the season. Basepaths, it’s just us. Guys learning. From my standpoint, I’m still very young and I’m learning every day. I’m learning every day to be a better player on the basepaths, to take better care of myself out there.”

“It’s not the coaching, it’s us as players. If the season failed, it’s us.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars

With the White Sox in the middle of a rebuild, Chuck Garfien spoke with 3 Houston Astros All-Stars who explained how they went from a rebuilding team to World Series champions. Jose Altuve, George Springer and Alex Bregman talk about how they dealt with losing, how they learned how to win, the importance of adding veterans to the young core, and how they kept hope alive during the rebuild.  Then later, Chuck spoke with Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain trying to understand how he dominated the White Sox for so many years.

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jose Abreu didn’t come to the White Sox to be a leader. But that’s what he is as he took his spot among the best in baseball at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

Abreu is the face of the South Side baseball club and he’s had a stellar-enough first four and a half seasons in Major League Baseball to earn the distinction of a starter in the Midsummer Classic. But Abreu, unsurprisingly, doesn’t look at himself as one of the best in the game. He looks as himself as a hard-worker.

“I don’t believe that I’m the best,” Abreu said through a team translator on Monday. “I’m just a person who likes to work hard every day and try to do my best.”

That humility is nothing new to folks who follow the White Sox on a regular basis. And neither is talk of Abreu’s work ethic, the admiration of everyone involved with the team and a constant talking point from Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all Abreu’s teammates.

Abreu has become as important for his off-the-field roles as he has for his on-the-field production for this rebuilding White Sox team. He’s been described as a role model for all the young players in the organization, whether they’re on the big league roster right now or coming up through the system.

“None of them have told me that yet,” Abreu joked. “But I know that. It’s definitely a compliment, and I take it as something that makes you feel good, something that makes you keep moving forward and to keep trying to help the guys to improve and get better as a team. You feel like that is a big honor, that people think that way of you.”

As good as he feels to be held in such esteem, Abreu didn’t set out to be one of this team’s leaders when he came to the United States. And to be honest, he might not be in his current position if it weren’t for the team’s rebuilding effort. Abreu is one of the few veterans on this team.

“That was something that happened. I didn’t look for it,” Abreu said. “I was always trying to help people and trying to give advice to help people to improve. But I never tried to be a leader. If people say that because of what I do, that’s good, but that’s not something that I’m trying to force or something that I say, ‘I want to be a leader.’ No, that’s not who I am. I am just the kind of person who likes to help people, who likes to give advice.”

Abreu is seemingly the definition of what the White Sox want their next winning roster to be full of. And whether it’s the special relationship he has with fellow Cuban Yoan Moncada or the role-model status he holds in the eyes of his other teammates, both current and future, he’s helping the White Sox develop those kinds of players.

Oh, and he’s generally — though this season has seen an extended slump and atypical numbers — one of the most consistently productive hitters in the game.

Who wouldn’t want all that as the face of the franchise?

“It’s all a blessing. I can’t ask for anything else,” Abreu said. “I’m a true believer that if you work hard, good things are going to happen. That’s why I work hard every day, I try to do my best, I try to improve every day and just to be a better person. Not just a better player, but a better person.”