Once you get past the initial weirdness and divisive nature of the White Sox acquiring Manny Ramirez; it's hard to think the offensive upgrade should bolster their somewhat slim playoff hopes. Harriet Williams may just have waited too long to pull the trigger as their once-vaunted bullpen is suddenly a huge question mark.
When last we checked in with the Sox 'pen, they were striking out batters en masse and holding together the surprise of the season's first half. Fast-forward to today and they're leaking oil and coughing up leads left and right. The formidable setup tandem of J.J. Putz and Matt Thornton both landed on the disabled list last week. Briefly excellent fill-in Erick Threets seemed to finally be healthy and pitching well, which of course means he needs Tommy John surgery and misses the next full year of baseball.
Obese walking punchline Bobby Jenks avoided the disabled list after a slight injury, opting to struggle worse than the waistband of his XXXXL underoos, even blowing a three run lead last night! Jenks, who spent much of the season trying to give his job away, is safe for another two weeks thanks to the dearth of viable options remaining with all their body parts in tact. Nearly all the remaining bullpen arms are rookies, including young lefty Chris Sale - picked by the Sox mere weeks ago in the June amateur entry draft!
While the injuries and subsequent bullpen chaining calamity hugely affects their performance, I think the dearth of fat guys is what's really getting the White Sox down. Thanks to the power of the internet (namely the great Carson Cistulli of Fangraphs) and the ingenuity of nerds the world over, we now see just how fast baseball's relievers really are.
This incredible document lists nearly all eligible relievers by their Body Mass Index; in addition to showing the bullpen's BMI z-score, or standard deviations above the median weight. Turns out the fattest bullpen in baseball is also one of the best, with the bulbous Dodgers pen weighing (massing?) at more than two full deviations above the norm fatness.
The notoriously chunky White Sox check in second with the best bullpen in baseball (The Fathers) sliding in 11th. Can we conclude that fat pitchers are better pitchers? Of course we can(n't)! There must be a connection between bullpen quality of obesity, beyond the constant sitting and snacking. Please to enjoy the list of fat guys, with full credit going out to Twittermeister Mark Hedjuk. Reveal in the knowledge that dangerously unhealthy weight problems haven't stopped these guys become top-flight athletes and millionaires. Living the dream!