Last season, the two main cogs in the White Sox rotation were under the microscope when it came to their health. People wanted to see how Jake Peavy would do another year removed from his landmark latissimus dorsi surgery and eyes were on how Chris Sale’s arm would handle the large innings increase.
Both players passed those tests with flying colors, and these success stories on the medical front are nothing new for the Chicago White Sox.
The South Siders have seen arms flourish and be healthy pretty much all throughout Herm Schneider’s tenure as trainer. Whether it be guys coming back from major medical operations like Peavy, or young guys coming out of years with large inning increases unscathed like Sale and Jose Quintana in 2012, Gavin Floyd and John Danks in 2008, and even back to Mark Buehrle in 2001, the White Sox have really been the standard around baseball when it comes to the health of their pitching staff.
It’s probably a big reason why the team’s pitching as seemingly been near the top of the American League exceeded expectations most years.
Looking around the league, teams really haven’t had the same success when it comes to the health of their young, coveted arms, as many teams have stories of those players flaring out before they enter their prime years. Under the watches of Schneider and Don Cooper, the White Sox really haven’t had that happen.
The string of health isn’t just on the mound though, as the position players have also been remarkably healthy over the past decade. Since 2002, the White Sox are the only team whose players have spent less than 4,000 days on the disabled list, as well as less than 100 trips to the DL. Keep in mind that, as far as we know, this has been done without the use of PEDs or steroids by pretty much anybody, as no one on the White Sox (to my knowledge) has been caught or suspected of banned substance abuse in recent years.
Is the often clean bill of health just luck or coincidental? If a team has it one year, maybe, but when it’s sustained for a decade or even longer, there’s got to be some rhyme or reason for it.
Herm Schneider may draw some chuckles from fans every now and then when he trots out onto the field when a player goes down, but the fact of the matter is he, along with the coaching staff and even the front office, have done a terrific job of monitoring their players, keeping them healthy, and looking out for their best interests.
So when the Sox skip a start for Chris Sale, or give John Danks an extra week or two off, or hold out Paul Konerko for a few days to monitor his health, I think it’s best we don’t criticize it. The track record shows one thing: when it comes to player health: the White Sox know what they are doing.
Check out the great by-the-numbers breakdown that Fangraphs had on this topic just a few days ago here.