TDG’S Triple Play: Chicago White Sox!
The Triple Play is back for a sixth season! This regular feature is broken down by senior writer Phil Barrington and he is joined by a rotating panel of some of the best Dynasty Baseball writers in the business. If you’re new to the Triple Play, this series breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure!
This week I (@barrington_phil) am joined by Ryan Epperson (@ppenayr) and Greg Hoogkamp (@GregHoogkamp). Follow us on Twitter and send us any questions, feedback, disagreements, what have yous, in the comments.
Andrew Benintendi, Age: 29, Position: OF
Analysis by: Ryan Epperson
Like most white males in their mid-thirties to early-fifties, I get down with some Tom Petty quite regularly. I was able to see about half of one of his last performances before he passed, before having to be called in (my real job is in the operating room) and having to leave. How does he relate to Andrew Benintendi? No idea, but I`ll do my best to fuse the two to the best of my ability
“Yer So Bad, Yer the Best I Ever Had”
Does Boston regret getting rid of Benintendi after a horrible, no good, weird ass year that was 2020? I would think so, looking at some of the retreads they were running through these last few years. Benintendi was never going to be a masher, but you could count on him for 15ish home runs and about as many steals while having a solid average and playing a good outfield.
I do wonder what would have happened with his career if the Red Sox would have kept Benintendi in red and white instead of letting him go. Besides the weird COVID year, he was always better than you may have thought and the trajectory of the franchise and Benintendi himself may be quite different had he remained.
“Don`t Do Me Like That”
Instead of the pie in the sky, idyllic land where Andrew stayed with the Red Sox, he signed with the Royals in `21 and lo and behold, produced about what he always had, a .276/.324/.442 line with 17 home runs and eight steals. It looked as if he found a home in the cavernous confines of Kauffman Stadium (is it still called Kauffman Stadium?). In `22 all things were looking up, through July 27th Benintendi was on fire, slashing .320/.387/.398 with three home runs and 4 stolen bases.
The Royals, being the Royals, were sellers at the deadline and traded Benintendi to the Red Sox rival in the New York Yankees. And even though Benintendi played reasonably well for the Yanks to finish the year, they chose not to bring him back for…Aaron Hicks?? Things may have been different for the Yanks and Benintendi if he was able to make it back for the World Series from a wrist injury, but life is rarely fair.
One must wonder if Benintendi`s wrist is still bothering him to start his tenure in Chicago for the White Sox, he`s never been one to mash, but he has a truly abysmal hard hit and barrel rate, bottom seven percent and bottom five percent respectively. I would speculate that Benintendi is a solid buy-low opportunity for dynasty owners, with an assumption that eventually the wrist will heal up. Add in the fact that the White Sox should be seller`s at the deadline, Andrew may be on the move again, just like a refugee…nailed it.
Lance Lynn, Age: 36, Position: SP
Analysis by: Greg Hoogkamp
Lance Lynn was a pitcher I was very high on going into the season. Consequently, I have him on several teams and it’s been quite the ride. Lynn is having the worst season of his career this year and it isn’t particularly close. His current ERA of nearly 6.50 is nearly three(!) runs higher than his career mark of 3.68. Lynn has always been a solid mid-rotation starter that you could depend on to get you quality innings; what has happened this season and can Lynn be a usable piece going forward? Let’s dig in and find out!
“Whataya Want from Me”
What you notice when you look at Lynn’s profile is that he’s had some bad luck this season. His BABIP is .339 (39 points higher than his career average), his left on base percentage is 63.1% (11.7% lower than his career average) and his home runs per fly ball percentage is 21.0% (10.2% higher than his career average). All of this leads to a FIP of 5.11 and an xFIP of 3.87, but both of these numbers are STILL higher than his career ERA. So there has to be some other contributing factors at play here. You might point to Lynn’s age first. He’s now 36 (after celebrating his birthday in May) and there aren’t too many elite pitchers in this age bracket. As pitchers age, we know the first thing to deteriorate is fastball velocity. Lynn’s 4-Seam velo has seen a steady drop since 2019 when his average fastball was 94.7 mph. This season, he is down to 92.7 mph on the heater, but his elite fastball spin and shape is still there and pitchers have been successful with fastballs like his in the recent past, so what else can we find?
The pitch clock was introduced this season and we have seen pitchers who are (trying to put this kindly) not in great shape, struggle with the pace. Lynn has always been a big guy and worked at an average to slightly slower than average pace in the past. This season he is throwing each pitch on average five seconds quicker which is a fairly significant difference. In stressful innings this can really take its toll. Lynn’s wOBA against, when you compare this year with last year, is telling, particularly with runners on and runners in scoring position. His wOBA against in 2023 is up 94 points (.465 compared with.371 in 2022) with runners on base and up 89 points (.397 compared with .308 in 2022) with runners in scoring position. Again, there are many variables at play here, but these numbers, at least in part, show that fitness could be an issue.
“Holding out for a Hero”
What about Lynn’s walks and strikeouts, these are metrics that a pitcher has more control over. Interestingly, Lynn’s K% is actually up marginally over last year (26.9% to 24.2%), but his BB% is also up and fairly significantly (8.3% to 3.7%) which means more baserunners and more opportunities for the opposition to score. The good news is that Lynn’s career average for BB% is 8.4% so he is right in line with that.
Fangraphs has Lynn’s rest of season projection looking a whole lot better than what he has produced so far. His Steamer projection for the final three months is 83 IP, 5 W and 85 K with a 3.99 ERA. You would absolutely take this as a Lynn owner after what you have gone through so far in 2023. His most recent start, just before the All-Star Break, was a gem against the Blue Jays, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K with 25 whiffs. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.
Ryan Burrowes, Age: 18, Position: SS, Level: Rookie
Analysis by: Phil Barrington
Signed for the reasonable price of $75,000 on April 3, 2022 from Panama, the White Sox were not necessarily expecting a big return on investment, but Burrowes decided to show them that the returns could be greater than expected. The lanky right-handed hitting Burrowes posted a promising .266/.393/.392 slash line in the Dominican Summer League in 2022, along with hitting three homers, stealing 12 bags and hitting nine doubles.
Currently listed at 6’2”, 170 pounds; Mr. Ryan Anthony Burrowes has room to grow into a power hitting middle infielder. Going into the season Burrowes was the #11 White Sox prospect on mlb.com and #14 on FanGraphs. This season Burrowes has played in 19 games (as of this writing) playing for the White Sox Rookie Team, playing shortstop and hitting in the top half of the order (often leadoff). Thus far his statline is encouraging: six doubles, a homer and a few steals and a slash of .265/.383/.456.
The White Sox have some talent up the middle with Colson Montgomery, Lenyn Sosa, and Jose Rodríguez ahead of Burrowes in the system, with the latter two already having seen time with the big-league club this season. No matter, Burrowes is years away from the majors. Rostered in less than 1% of Fantrax leagues and none of mine, there’s no rush to add him to your Dynasty Roster. But check back on him when we get into September; if Burrowes is still producing, better to add him to your teams when a lot of your league-mates have moved on to football in advance of him moving up prospect lists in the off-season.