When the White Sox lost shortstop Tim Anderson to a hand injury earlier this month, Lucas Giolito noted to reporters that “we’ve been dealing with that kind of stuff all year.”
Just days earlier the Sox had finally gotten Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu, Yasmani Grandal, Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert into the lineup together for the first time this season. The honeymoon didn’t last long before Anderson’s injury threw the latest wrench into things. He’s expected to be out at least another two weeks.
That’s the kind of campaign it’s been so far for the White Sox, who haven’t had quite as many injuries as other teams but have, at times, felt them more acutely given the level of talent sidelined, according to data from Baseball Prospectus’ Injury List Ledger. The Cubs haven’t been much luckier.
The range of games missed for MLB’s 30 teams so far hammers home how the injury gods dispense luck differently. The Reds, one of the league’s worst teams, have seen players miss a combined 1,652 games this season, per BP’s stats. On the flip side you can see part of why the Guardians lead the AL Central: Their players have only missed 510 games, a small fraction of what some other teams have faced.
The White Sox and Cubs, meanwhile, rank among the most injured teams in the big leagues so far this year. Players for the North Siders have missed 1,444 games, the third-highest total in the league behind the Reds and Rays. Sox players have missed 953 games, 13th in the league.
But what separates the Cubs’ plight from their peers on the South Side is that their injuries happened often to players with lower expectations anyway. Relievers like Brad Wieck, Ethan Roberts and Manuel Rodriguez hitting the 60-day IL didn’t upend the team’s daily lineup, even if losing Wieck in particular thinned out the bullpen.
The White Sox haven’t been so fortunate despite being relatively more healthy.
Baseball Prospectus also calculates an estimate of how many Wins Above Replacement Player each team has lost due to injuries.
In that statistic, which weighs both volume of games missed and the projected performance of each player who’s out, the Sox rank fourth in WARP lost at 5.78, very narrowly behind the Reds (5.90) and Dodgers (5.82). The Rays, in part due to Wander Franco’s health issues, have lost 7.22 WARP to injuries. The Cubs (4.50) rank 11th in WARP missed.
Compared to the Guardians, who have lost just 1.33 WARP to injuries, the White Sox have lost an extra 4.45 wins to injuries this year. That’s bigger than the gap that separates the teams in the standings right now.
This is something teams can overcome: Just look at the Rays and Dodgers, first and third in WARP missed, respectively. The former is on track for the playoffs, while the latter is on pace for nearly 113 wins. A more healthy Dodgers team might on pace for the best season in league history.
But for the White Sox, now third in a tight divisional race with the Guardians and Twins, those lost wins could be the difference between a playoff trip and an early offseason.