Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

MLB News arrow-downArrow Down icon Arrow Up icon

Statcast facts, figures from White Sox 2020

@scottmerkin and @SlangsOnSports
November 19, 2020

The White Sox reached the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and finished over .500 in a season for the first time since '12. Here are a few of the more notable Statcast numbers and trends from this 35-25 step forward taken during their '20 campaign. The White Sox

The White Sox reached the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and finished over .500 in a season for the first time since '12. Here are a few of the more notable Statcast numbers and trends from this 35-25 step forward taken during their '20 campaign.

The White Sox had two players rank in the top 10 in hard-hit rate (minimum 100 batted balls). The only other team with multiple players in the top 10 was the Braves (4).

Eloy Jiménez: 55.7%, 5th
José Abreu: 53.3%, 10th

Comments: Abreu and Jiménez finished with American League Silver Slugger Awards, joining shortstop Tim Anderson in leading one of the game’s top offenses.

José Abreu

Abreu crushed the ball in 2020, both compared to his past results and league-wide:
• He was in the 95th percentile in exit velocity, the 96th in hard-hit rate, the 94th in xBA and the 95th in xSLG.
• His 92.9 mph average exit velocity was his highest in any season tracked by Statcast (since 2015).
• His 53.3% hard-hit rate was his highest in any season tracked by Statcast (since 2015).
• He had 97 hard-hit batted balls (95+ mph exit velocity), the third most in MLB.
• He had perceptible defensive improvement, too, with plus-2 OAA at first base this season. (He had minus-3 in 2019, minus-1 in '18 and plus-2 in '17.

Comments: Even though the 2020 season was abbreviated -- Abreu played in all 60 games -- it was the first baseman’s best of his seven with the White Sox, as he won his first career AL Most Valuable Player Award.

Behind Abreu’s success, there was a little something to prove. He entered the 2020 campaign in great shape, having improved his defense, and he was pretty much on track from start to finish after agreeing upon a three-year, $50 million deal questioned by some this past offseason.

Luis Robert

The good: defense, speed, power
• He had plus-7 OAA, tied for most in the outfield in MLB.
• He made five 4+ star catches (50% catch probability or lower), tied for second most among outfielders.
• He had a sprint speed of 29.1 ft/sec -- 30 ft/sec is elite, 27 is the MLB average.
• He recorded 18 competitive runs on the basepaths at a sprint speed of 30 ft/sec, called Bolts, tied for seventh in MLB.
• He had a 487-foot homer in the postseason, the second longest HR in 2020 (including the regular season and postseason).

The bad: plate discipline
• He had a 41.6% whiff rate, third highest in MLB (minimum 400 swings).
• He had a 53.7% first-pitch swing rate, highest in MLB (minimum 100 plate appearances).

Comments: These stats perfectly sum up Robert’s season, especially at the plate. The rookie was touted as an MVP candidate through August, only to have a miserable 11-for-81 skid in September, a rough stretch almost every young player encounters. But he was a jaw-dropping, dynamic presence when on his game, and his 487-foot blast was an exhibit of his high-end raw talent. Robert’s defense never wavered despite the offensive slump, leading to a Gold Glove Award in center field.

Garrett Crochet

• In six regular-season MLB innings, Crochet threw 85 pitches, and 69 were at 99.0+ mph. That's 81.2% of his pitches, by far the highest percentage of pitches at 99+ mph by anyone in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008; minimum 50 pitches). The next highest was 73.3% by Henry Rodriguez in 2009.

• Why does that velocity matter? The league-wide batting average in at-bats ending on 99+ mph pitches was .182, and the slugging percentage was .284.

Comments: It was quite a ride for Crochet, moving from throwing only 3 1/3 innings at Tennessee before the coronavirus shutdown to being the 11th overall selection in the 2020 Draft to being counted on for two-thirds of an inning in the deciding Game 3 of the AL Wild Card Series in Oakland. Crochet is ready for whatever the White Sox have in store during his first full season, whether it’s working in relief in the Majors or starting in the Minors. Chicago views him long-term as a starter.

Tim Anderson

• Anderson's quality of contact (launch angle and exit velocity) reflect a very similar season to 2019: He had a .296 xBA (based on that contact) in '19, and it was .293 in '20. His expected slugging percentage was actually higher in '20: .509, compared to .471 in '19

Comments: If not for a 6-for-46 dropoff to finish the season, Anderson had a chance to capture a second straight AL batting title. He has established himself as one of the game’s stars through hard work, an increasing understanding of his ability and attacking each at-bat. Need further proof? How about his 9-for-14 playoff showing?

Yoán Moncada

• The hard contact was down this year. He had a 33.1% hard-hit rate (compared to 47.9% in 2019) and an 87.8 mph average exit velocity (93.1 mph in '19). He was also in the 32nd percentile in average exit velocity and the 23rd in hard-hit rate; in '19, he was in the 98th percentile for exit velocity and the 90th for hard-hit rate.

• Defensive metrics continue to indicate third base is the place to be for him. He recorded plus-3 OAA at third in 2020, after recording plus-4 there in '19. He was at minus-14 at second base in '18 and minus-2 at second in '17.

Comments: Moncada tested positive for COVID-19 during the intake process and admitted to never really feeling right for the rest of the season. The White Sox hope a healthy Moncada means a return to excellence.

Lucas Giolito

Giolito missed a lot of bats in 2020, in part because of an increase he’s had in whiff rate:
Here's a breakdown of his whiff rate (misses/swings) by year:

2020: 36.6%
2019: 32.5%
2018: 21.6%
2017: 22.5%
2016: 13.7%

Comments: This sort of swing-and-miss stuff firmly places Giolito at the top of the White Sox rotation, with the right-hander making his first Opening Day start this past season and then throwing six perfect innings in a Game 1 playoff victory against the A’s. Giolito no-hit the Pirates in 2020, while ranking second behind Shane Bieber in strikeouts in the AL.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Sarah Langs is a reporter/editor for based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @SlangsOnSports.