There are three relievers in baseball who have accumulated over 1.0 WAR thus far in 2013. The leader, at 1.5, is the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Jason Grilli. The second and third both pitch for the Chicago White Sox.
Jesse Crain, 1.4 WAR, and Addison Reed, 1.0 WAR, have been underrated this season as they’re having elite years. Excluding Reed’s recent five-run blowup in an outing where he was asked to throw an obscene 55 pitches, the two have combined to allow just eight runs this season. They have 69 strikeouts in 54.2 innings, as they’ve continually shut down opponents in the late innings.
Alongside these two elite relievers, the White Sox starting staff has also been strong. The starters rank sixth in baseball in WAR and fourth in the American League in ERA. Though Jake Peavy just went on the disabled list with an injury that is expected to keep him sidelined for 4-6 weeks, the starting staff has been relatively deep and consistent.
The American League is a very strong hitters’ league, and the White Sox home ballpark is regarded as more of a hitter and home run-friendly park.
As the White Sox defense has ranked in the top-10 in all of baseball according to ultimate zone rating, it is further proof that their run prevention efforts have been elite. The White Sox hitters, however, are a different story. They rank last in the American League in runs scored, and their hitters have actually accumulated a negative WAR thus far.
The White Sox are in a difficult position as their strengths are misaligned. Their league and ballpark lend themselves to run creation. Bullpen performance is inherently volatile as it moves in small samples. With a weak farm system, abysmal offense, and volatile bullpen performance, the White Sox should be looking to sell off some overachieving pieces in an effort to align the team with a more sustainable strategy for success.
Gabe Isaacson is a RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.