Tony La Russa and Rick Hahn Rating – NBC Chicago

Sox Notes: Tony La Russa and Rick Hahn’s rating originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Chicago White Sox season ended in disappointment, much sooner than hoped.

But the team accomplished a lot in the 2021 campaign, winning the Central American League crown and playing playoff baseball on the South Side for the first time in 13 years. After years of rebuilding, there was indeed progress towards achieving the franchise’s ultimate goal of winning a World Series championship.

At the same time, expectations of hitting that target this year were realistic in the spring, and the White Sox were far below. A poor AL Division Series loss to the Houston Astros resulted in the same number of playoff wins as the White Sox a year earlier, before a change of leadership and roster upgrades.

RELATED: Offseason Sox: 5 Questions Facing Rick Hahn’s Front Office

So how should we judge these South Siders?

If we just hand out the marks for those four games in October, not many people will get a passing mark. But a baseball season doesn’t last four games, and while the squad’s disappointment was huge after a quick exit from the playoffs, most players excelled in the regular season, giving reason to believe that the White Sox can improve in 2022 and move closer to a championship.

Here’s a person-to-person review of the 2021 campaign, ending with the Director and CEO.

More grades: Rotation | bullpen | infield | outer field

Tony La Russa: A-

La Russa’s landing in the canoe on the south side was downright shocking. And with that came a never-ending stream of questions, most of them centered on how the 76-year-old Hall of Fame would fit in with White Sox players from “Change the Game” after a decade of being taken out of a role. of management.

La Russa have called the vast majority of these questions legitimate and have vowed to prove themselves to fans and earn the trust and respect of their players. The answers to these questions ended up being, from the perspective of those groups that La Russa was trying to win, very positive answers.

The White Sox players had only good things to say about the skipper, citing the family-style atmosphere he created, praising the fact that he allowed them to be themselves and appreciating that he fully supported them. Team leaders José Abreu and Tim Anderson led those vocalizations, with Anderson gushing out of their relationship backstage and Abreu filmed playfully hugging and kissing La Russa as the White Sox moved closer to the championship. of division.

Fan opinion has remained mixed, unsurprisingly, and after a particularly stormy opening month, La Russa received the same type of criticism as any manager, especially in the playoffs, that the White Sox have received. a disappointing and quick exit. But the fans seemed to enjoy the same things the players did, turning his sprint out of the dugout to defend Abreu against the Cleveland Indians into a Twitter meme and chanting “TO-NY! TO-NY!” as he argued with the umpires after Abreu was hit with a pitch against the Houston Astros.

Ultimately, no one is rated in terms of the team’s ultimate success other than the manager, and this seems to be especially true with La Russa, whose sole purpose for being the manager of the White Sox was to take them to the Worlds. Series, where he won three championships in his incomparable career. He didn’t do it in 2021, but after making it known he’ll be back in 2022, he’s obviously going to get another chance.

This season, La Russa has done quite a management job, his team winning the Central American League crown by fleeing despite numerous significant injuries to key players. It was the franchise’s first divisional title in 13 years, a fact seemingly lost in the team’s disappointing playoff performance. Of course, that performance is history too, and La Russa won the same number of playoff games in 2021 that Rick Renteria won a year earlier.

Rick Hahn: A-

Quite simply, the White Sox being able to disappoint with a first-round playoff exit was only possible because Hahn rebuilt the roster into a legitimate World Series contender.

That’s not to say he can relax and watch what’s going on as long as the contention window stays open, and he showed by the trade deadline that he has no intention of doing so.

But as frustrating to fans as the ALDS is, the White Sox were only here in the first place thanks to Hahn’s rebuilding efforts. Lucas Giolito, Yoán Moncada, Eloy Jiménez, Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech all came into these rebuilding launch exchanges in 2016 and 2017. Luis Robert signed his international free agent contract in 2017. Andrew Vaughn was drafted with the No. 3 pick in 2019. And after adding veteran weight to the roster in the form of Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Lance Lynn and Liam Hendriks, the White Sox were division champions with World Series aspirations.

Indeed, Hahn’s trade deadline splash didn’t go well, but for now, the deals seemed to be exactly what the White Sox needed. Craig Kimbrel was a closer All-Star with World Series credentials and thought to give the White Sox a menacing reliever pen that could mow through opposing lineups. But Kimbrel didn’t fare well in the transition from closer to setup man, and he was an unreliable option when the time came. César Hernández was a Gold Glove second baseman who was swinging an unusually powerful bat. His offensive production fell off a cliff after changing clubs to AL Central.

But the silver lining until 2021 ending in a disappointment is that the White Sox are well positioned to return to the playoffs next year and in the years to come, a direct result of Hahn’s work. Jiménez, Robert and Moncada remain blocked on agreements favorable to the team. And much of the rest of the list will remain untouched in the future.

Hahn’s task for the immediate future becomes part of the arms race in the American League. The ALDS showed a significant gap between the White Sox and the Astros, the team that ended up winning the pennant. That’s what the White Sox would love to do, and if they’re going to do it, they’ll have to be better than the Astros and them. For that to happen, upgrades will have to take place, not because the roster isn’t very, very good, but because the teams around the White Sox will continue to improve as well.

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