The Chicago White Sox had an interesting season to say the least. They had a terrible start. They absolutely crushed all comers in interleague play. They had an eleven-game winning streak. They had an eight-game losing streak. They spent 27 days in first place. They suffered mightily at the hands of their arch-nemesis, the Minnesota Twins. They won 88 games and finished the season in second place, six games out.
When asked what made their season the modicum of success that it was, many fans might say the solid starting pitching or the MVP-level efforts of first baseman Paul Konerko along with decent offensive showings by the likes of Carlos Quentin and Andruw Jones. But there may have been another, overlooked reason behind their, in some respects, surprisingly competitive season.
A recent study by Fangraphs, the respected stats-based baseball analysis site, indicates that, while the White Sox fell far short of the AL crown, they won the DL one. (DL = disabled list, of course.) In fact, Sox players had the fewest number of days on the disabled list, and the team tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks as having reported the fewest trips to the DL.
It's pretty remarkable, really. Here's a team with such relatively aged players as the aforementioned Konerko (34 years old) and Jones (33) as well as Juan Pierre (32), A.J. Pierzynski (33), Freddy Garcia (35) and, last but certainly not least, Omar Vizquel (43!!!) staying healthy to an amazing extent. Naturally, the Baseball Gods did exact some toll for this good fortune. Top-of-the-rotation pitcher Jake Peavy went down with a horrible injury in July, ne'er to be seen atop the mound again. But one might say that much of his production was admirably replaced by trade deadline pickup Edwin Jackson.
The big question is whether general manager Kenny Williams will let this lucky break (no pun intended) color his decisions about the 2011 season. Will they invite beloved slugger Paul Konerko back for another year (or two) in gratitude for his fine performance? Will A.J. earn an extension largely based on the team's doubts about the bat of Tyler Flowers? Could Garcia get another shot at the bottom of the rotation?
All interesting questions to consider. And it's not like the team completely lacks youth. Second baseman Gordon Beckham is only 23 and, we hope, has successfully suffered through his sophomore slump season. Alexei Ramirez and Alex Rios are also under 30. And very solid starter John Danks is only 25, which may come as a surprise to some.
We'd advise Kenny Williams to step carefully, however. A season that brings so few injuries is often followed up by one that brings far too many. (Ask the Chicago Cubs, who managed to stay fairly healthy in 2008, only to suffer several key injuries in 2009.) And age is not on the side of many White Sox players.