Chicago White Sox: Needs of Improvement for the 2013 Season

Todd ThorstensonAnalyst IOctober 24, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 10:  Manager Robin Ventura #23 of the Chicago White Sox watches as his team takes on the Oakland Athletics at U.S. Cellular Field on August 10, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Athletics 4-3.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The 2012 Chicago White Sox definitely overachieved by winning 85 games and remaining relevant until the end of September.

However, the late season collapse did exploit Chicago's weaknesses and allowed them (in a very painful way) to figure out what they need to improve on as they head into 2013.

The most obvious and glaring issue during the final weeks of the season was the White Sox inability to score runs. They simply could not get on base, and even when they did, they couldn't drive runs in—not exactly a recipe for winning baseball.

What's interesting is that the White Sox finished fourth in the American League in runs scored with 748 and fourth in batting average with RISP at .272. The problem was that they didn't do any of that damage in the last few weeks of the season, precisely when they needed it the most.

The White Sox were actually at the top of the league in hitting with RISP for a large part of the season, but plummeted to fourth in the final weeks.

And which team finished first in the league batting with RISP?

That would be the Detroit Tigers, who finished the season at .286 and are now representing the AL in the World Series.

One of the requirements for hitting with runners in scoring position is to actually have players on base. In 2012, the White Sox were in the middle of the league with a .318 team OBP—the Tigers were second in the league at .335.

In addition, the Sox were dead last in the league in doubles and in the middle of the pack in stolen bases, both of which play a big part in terms of having guys in scoring position.

Simply put, the 2013 White Sox will have to find ways up and down their lineup to reach base more often, and when they do, they need to find ways other than the home run to knock the runners in.

This either means making adjustments to their approach at the plate or finding new personnel who can do the job. We'll see how that plays out.

And let's not forget pitching. 

While overall it seemed that the pitching staff did a nice job, there is definitely room for improvement.

The 2012 White Sox finished ninth in the league with a 4.02 team ERA and had the fifth highest number of walks with 503.

As everyone knows, walks will come back to haunt you, and that certainly rang true for the 2012 White Sox pitching staff.

There's no doubt that the number of rookie pitchers used by Chicago throughout the season contributed to some of its troubles on the mound, and several of those rookies may be back next year, so improvement is necessary.

It is already evident that the starting rotation could take a severe hit if neither Jake Peavy or Gavin Floyd return next season. 

Losing both pitchers would place more pressure on some of the younger arms. Right now, Chicago's rotation consists of Chris Sale, John Danks and Jose Quintana with question marks to follow. 

The bullpen was seemingly a strength for the White Sox in 2012, but they actually had the third worst save percentage in the league at 65 percent (so I would say there's room for improvement there as well).

Overall, the makeup of the pen seems to be in good shape with Addison Reed coming back as the closer, along with setup men Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton.

But there's no doubt that Thornton has to be more effective in his role than he was in 2012, and Reed needs to take the next step and solidify his status as a closer.

The White Sox do return Nate Jones and Donnie Veal, both whom had outstanding seasons. The hope is that they can pick up right where they left off.

One thing the White Sox will be hard pressed to improve upon next year is their defense.

They were the best defensive team in baseball in 2012, committing only 70 errors for a .988 fielding percentage.

Defense is what helped Chicago hang around so long this season, and will hopefully be a strength heading into 2013.

With roughly four months to go until spring training, the White Sox certainly have plenty of time to get to work on making changes and adjustments for next year.

We'll see how everything shakes out next March.