White Sox

The Sox did something improbable on this date in 1959


The Sox did something improbable on this date in 1959

Philip Humber's perfect game was certainly improbable; its finish (as JJ Stankevitz alluded to in his fantastic synopsis of the final at-bat) was equally remarkable. But on this day in 1959, something even more bizarre took place at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City.

The 1959 White Sox was a team whose identity was earned by "strength up the middle" and a great pitching staff. Despite winning the pennant, they were 5th (out of 8 teams) in runs scored. So when the box score read 20-6 in favor of the Pale Hose after an April 22, 1959 game against the Athletics, it certainly wasn't the norm.

Much less amazing than the fact that they scored 20 runs was how they did it. The lone home run was hit by Luis Aparicio, who hit only six all year; a man who etched his plaque in Cooperstown with a legendary glove and a mountainous pile of stolen bases. That's not the most interesting thing about it.

Things looked grim after starter Early Wynn was knocked out in the bottom of the second after a Roger Maris homer made the score 6-1 Kansas City. The Sox rallied and took an 8-6 lead into the 7th inning, and what took place next will never again be duplicated on a Major League diamond; and this is how it went down:

- Ray Boone reached on a throwing error by shortstop Joe DeMaestri
- Al Smith reached on an error by third baseman Hal Smith during a sac-bunt
- Johnny Callison singled; Boone scored, Smith scored
- Luis Aparicio walked, then stole second
- Bob Shaw walked
- Earl Torgeson (batting for Sammy Esposito) walked, scoring Callison
- Nellie Fox walked, scoring Aparicio
- Jim Landis grounded out 1-2, Shaw forced at home
- Sherm Lollar walked, scoring Torgeson
- Boone walked, scoring Fox
- Smith walked, scoring Landis
- Callison was hit by pitch, scoring Lollar
- Aparicio walked, scoring Boone
- Shaw struck out
- Bubba Phillips (batting for Torgeson) walked, scoring Smith
- Fox walked, scoring Lou Skizas (running for Callison)
- Landis grounded out 1-3

That's right: 11 runs on one hit, three errors, 10 walks, and a hit-by-pitch; truly one of the most surreal sequences of events the game could ever produce.

The White Sox connection to Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom that once and for all proves pitcher wins are meaningless


The White Sox connection to Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom that once and for all proves pitcher wins are meaningless

Jacob deGrom was excellent for the New York Mets in 2018, and his sensational campaign was rewarded Wednesday with the NL Cy Young Award.

The Mets' ace led baseball with a 1.70 ERA and struck out 269 batters in 217 innings. The other end of that spectrum was Lucas Giolito, who in his first full season in the big leagues had the highest ERA in baseball (among qualified pitchers) at 6.13. He struck out 125 guys in 173.1 innings.

It would seem to be two dramatically different seasons, but in one area the two were very much the same. Just look at this factoid dug up by ESPN's Sarah Langs:

That's right, the White Sox were just as good in Giolito's starts as the Mets were in deGrom's starts, and the two pitchers finished with an identical number of victories on the season.

So if there was still any doubt that the pitcher win has become a meaningless stat, this ought to erase it.

That's not to come down on Giolito, who said he learned an awful lot from his struggles during the White Sox rebuilding season, lessons the team expects will benefit him down the road in seasons when the White Sox are contending for championships. Instead, it's to point out that the pitcher win, which has long since fell out of favor as a stat used to analyze how good someone is, is officially dead. After all, deGrom ranked 47th in wins and still managed to be arguably the game's best pitcher last season.

Obviously deGrom had no control over what the rest of his Mets teammates did in games he started. He allowed an average of fewer than two runs every time he took the mound. The Mets averaged fewer than three and a half runs in games deGrom started, more than half a run fewer than they averaged over the course of the 162-game season.

White Sox fans familiar with the Jose Quintana Era can relate.

Again, Giolito is expected to improve with experience as his career goes on. And it's important to remember that 2018 was never supposed to be about what his numbers looked like at the end but what they'll look like in the future.

Another lesson to take from 2018, though? The pitcher win is deader than disco.

White Sox say Zack Burdi is fine and could force his way to majors in 2019


White Sox say Zack Burdi is fine and could force his way to majors in 2019

Zack Burdi’s shutdown in the Arizona Fall League is no cause for concern, at least not to Rick Hahn.

Burdi, who the White Sox took in the first round of the 2016 draft, has been recovering from Tommy John for more than a year. He didn’t pitch in any minor league games during the 2018 season, and he was just taken out of action in the AFL after a handful of appearances.

While that might have raised a few eyebrows, the White Sox general manager said there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to Burdi, who many fans consider the top internal candidate to be the White Sox closer of the future.

“He is doing well, and it is too early to be concerned about Zack Burdi,” Hahn said last week at the GM Meetings in Southern California. “It's important to get back throwing regularly. He had a very long rehab process, as you can imagine, which ended with going out on a regular basis in the Arizona Fall League. He cleared every hurdle we had for him at the end.

“He expressed to us a level of fatigue as far as his overall body being worn out from the time of his throwing program to instructs, to the Fall League, we felt it made sense to just shut him down instead of just running him out there for the last two weeks of Fall League.

“We are pleased with where he's at right now. We had always said that the target for him would be to be essentially back without restriction in 2019. That continues to be the case.”

That’s got to be pleasant news for White Sox fans who might have worried that the shutdown was an indicator of some sort of setback in Burdi’s recovery.

What should be even more pleasant news is that Burdi might make his way to the South Side in 2019. He reached Triple-A Charlotte prior to requiring Tommy John surgery in 2017, logging 33.1 innings there with a 4.05 ERA.

The White Sox bullpen is loaded with youth after a flurry of late-season call-ups in 2018, but perhaps there’s room for one more, eventually, the organization's No. 17 prospect.

“Keep in mind that he's still very young,” Hahn said. “He still has relatively few minor league innings under his belt. I can certainly see him forcing his way into our picture in 2019. When, whether it's early, middle or late, I don't know. Let's see where he's at once he's back throwing in games regularly for us. We still very much believe in his future and are pleased with where he's at in terms of his rehab.”