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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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Greatest White Sox team, Part II

Posted 04-21-2009 at 08:45 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 04-24-2009 at 09:36 PM by TommyJohn

So, I sat down to try and measure, statistically, the greatest single-season White Sox team ever. I decided the way to do this was to measure them against the rest of the American League for that particular season. How good were they against the competition? That seemed the fairest way to judge teams across decades, even centuries.

Now, I will admit this system I came up with might be flawed. It is my own system, based on nothing except my idea of how to measure teams. I call this statistical measurement ODP-Offense, Defense, Pitching. Just how well did these teams place in certain categories in these three areas compared with other teams? I decided on a points system- the team was awarded 2 points based on where they finisished-2 points for being at the bottom, 16 for the top.

The first flaw is that this might skew the numbers to pre-expansion teams, because there were only 8 teams. Thus, if you were in 8th place, you were dead last. Now 8th place in a stat category lands you in the middle. So to try and keep it fair, the scale stayed 16-2. For the post-expansion teams, anything lower than 8th place resulted in two points.

Now, I will admit, I didn't take EVERY statistical category available. I didn't want to wind up cross-eyed and bogged down in myriad stats. I decided to take the essential stats for each category. For offense, I chose:

Runs Per Game
Home Runs
Batting Average
Slugging Percentage
On-Base Plus
Total Bases
Stolen Bases
Base on Balls

For Defense:
Fielding Percentage
Double Plays

Runs Allowed
Earned Runs
Earned Run Average
Bases on Balls
Hits Allowed
Home Runs Allowed

I figured these were the essential categories to determine how well a team stacked up against everyone else. I didn't want to get into statistical overkill.

Next, I took the games ahead a Sox team finished and awarded them 1 point per Game Ahead. Eg., The 1983 Sox got 20 GA points, the 1959 White Sox got 5 GA points.

My next category was winning percentage. I ranked the teams 1-10 based on their winning percentages and awared points based on the ranking-the top WP team got 10 points, the bottom team got 1 point.

And that was basically it. The results seemed to skew heavily toward pre-expansion teams, and something seemed to be missing. So I added one more ingredient to the results-Days Spent in First. I felt this would also be a good measure of a great team-how many days were they ahead of the competition? Perhaps not. Still, it seemed a good way to try and fairly level the playing field between pre-and post-expansion teams.

As I said, my methods may be flawed. If they are, I am open to suggestions to improve them, should anyone read this.

I will have the rankings WITH the "Days in First Place" statistic added, then list how the rankings came out before I added it.

Without further adieu, here are my rankings, based solely on the method I came up with:

10. 1993 94-68 313 pts.
9. 1906 93-58 320 pts.
8. 2008 89-74 356 pts.
7. 1983 99-63 365 pts.
6. 2005 99-63 394 pts.
5. 1959 94-68 401 pts.
4. 2000 95-67 427 pts.
3. 1901 83-53 459 pts.
2. 1919 88-52 481 pts.
1. 1917 100-54 513 pts.

One thing that came out as I said was that my system seemed to favor the pre-expansion era teams. Only one team, the 2000 Sox, cracked the top 5, and that was only with the "Days In First" factor. They were much lower before that.

Another surprise is that the 2005 White Sox were just pretty much in the middle of the pack in most categories. Their strongest rankings were in pitching. Of course, as I have written before, if we are ranking these teams purely on the basis of accomplishment, the 2005 White Sox win every time-every day of the season was spent in first place, they went 11-1 in the postseason, they far outdistanced any other White Sox team in doing this. So if I were picking on that basis, they would be my number 1. But the method here was to simply measure them against the league that year.

here are the rankings before I factored in the Days in First:

1917 387
1919 347
1901 331
1959 300
1983 287
1906 275
2000 260
2005 211
1993 210
2008 202

As you can see, the DIF stat affected the outcomes for a few of the teams. 2008 was dead last, 2005 was lower, the 1983 team was the post-expansion team in the top five, not the 2000 team.

One constant I did notice was the top team. The 1917 White Sox were at or near the top of the American League in every statistical category. On offense, they were last in the AL in doubles. In every other category they placed no lower than third. On defense they were first or second in 4 of 6 categories. In pitching the lowest they finished in any category was 3rd (strikeouts). In my individual rankings of each category they were first in offense (tied with 1919) third in defense, first in pitching. The 1919 White Sox were right right behind them in the number two spot. Their D&P numbers were slightly lower than 1917. Had they ranked higher, they just might have taken the top spot.

So there it is. The 1917 White Sox are, by this method of mine, the most balanced and well-rounded team in franchise history. They were a machine, rolling through the American League and taking the measure of John McGraw's New York Giants in the World Series.

The 1917 White Sox, any way I measured it, are the Greatest White Sox Team of All Time.

Coming Soon: The Worst White Sox team of All-Time. No shortage of candidates for that one
Posted in White Sox
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  1. Old Comment
    tebman's Avatar
    Interesting! It bears repeating that the best teams are those that were the best equipped for that particular year and against that particular set of opposing teams. No doubt the 1917 team was a machine, but that same team playing in 2009 might not look as good against different competition.

    It's a fun analysis and leads to great hot-stove speculation.
    Posted 04-22-2009 at 09:51 AM by tebman tebman is offline

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