The White Sox have added plenty of surprise bullpen depth over the last few years, most recently with the signing of marquee free-agent closer, Liam Hendriks. The likes of Matt Foster, Codi Heuer, and Garrett Crochet have pleasantly surprised White Sox fans by making an immediate impact on the Major League roster and helping to propel the 2020 White Sox to their first playoff birth since 2008.
Before these seemingly fixed relievers in the bullpen, people seem to have forgotten a young reliever named Ryan Burr. Before Burr’s Tommy John Surgery in late June of 2019, he showed promise on an up-and-coming White Sox team. The club still lost 89 games that season, but there were several encouraging individual performances. The righty was just starting to show his stuff before landing on the shelf due to the aforementioned surgery.
Burr posted a 4.38 FIP in 19.2 innings of mostly long relief work. When digging further into the details, Burr’s advanced metrics tell an even more impressive story to build on. His xwOBA (Expected Weighted On Base Average) was .294, placing him right between Codi Heuer and Jace Fry in the 2020 season. His Hard Hit Percentages were 36.2%, which would have placed him between Lucas Giolito’s and Matt Foster’s 2020 season. Finally, his average Launch Angle against was 9.9 degrees. This was right above Fry’s 2020 Launch Angle of 9.2 degrees.
These numbers tell a story no one seems to be sounding at the moment: do not sleep on Ryan Burr. Everyone emphasizes the big dogs like Liam Hendriks, who costs $18 million per year, or Garrett Crochet because he throws 100-plus MPH, but effectiveness is key on the mound. In his short stint with the White Sox, Burr has proven his worth and capability as a fixture of the White Sox bullpen in 2021 and forward. Yes, he has his competition cut out for him, but the White Sox need to provide him another opportunity on the hill next season.