Ryan Bukowiecki is a student at the Illinois Media School and a contributor to The D & Davis Show and WARR where he follows the White Sox
Another Chicago White Sox season is coming to a close and even though there will not be any playoff glory this year, fans can look forward to a lot of fun and exciting players to watch going forward.
The South Siders have played well as of late, winners of five of their last 10, nothing earth shattering but they have won their last two series, including beating Madison Bumgarner and the Giants and followed by beating their division rival Kansas City Royals.
The Sox then came out and destroyed the Tigers in Game 1 of their weekend series, putting them in great position to win another series. There have been quite a few great individual moments this week and even more stemming from the beginning of September.
This should give lots of Sox fans hope that though the rebuild isn’t complete, it may be closer to its end than originally expected.
Moncada and Offense Explodes
Fans got treated to a real fun day on Thursday as the Sox obliterated the Detroit Tigers 17-7. The Sox got their 17 off 25 hits, highlighted by Yoan Moncada’s 4-for-5 performance with 2 walks and 5 runs and Avisail Garcia’s immaculate 5-for-5 with 1 walk and 7 RBIs.
Jose Abreu also had 4 hits along with 3 each from Tim Anderson and Matt Davidson. It’s always fun to see the Sox clicking this week, especially Moncada.
As of September 9th Moncada was really struggling at the plate, his slash line was a less than enthusiastic .179 AVG/.314 OBP/.350 SLG for an OPS of .665. At this point fans had been hoping to see the No. 1 prospect in baseball look that way, even though the struggles were expected and shouldn’t cause panic.
Then starting last Sunday, Moncada put together a big week. From Sunday to Thursday, his slash line was .478 AVG/.556 OBP/.696 SLG for an OPS of 1.251, straight fire. This week he has looked very comfortable at the plate and only struck out 18.5 percent of the time vs. his season average of 37.5%.
Coming into Sunday, Moncada just had 21 hits in a 140 plate appearances. This week he had 11 in his first 27 plate appearances. Perhaps this is the turning point for Moncada that all Sox fans were hoping for.
And when combining Moncada’s success to the future pieces in the rotation, this rebuild is shaping up to be ending sooner rather than later.
What a Difference Call Ups Make
Going into the season, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodón were basically the only thing worth watching in the Sox pitching staff.
Fast forward to now and things are completely different. Of course, Quintana was shipped to the North Side, Rodón is still around but all of a sudden there is quite a few pitchers to watch in the rotation from Reynaldo López, Lucas Giolito and Carson Fulmer. All three have flashed in a way that should leave any Sox fan excited for next year.
September has been good for this foursome. The ERA and WHIP of Rodón (2.45 and 1.25), López (3.50 and 1.22), Giolito (2.41 and .96) and Fulmer (1.50 and 1.00) are really good signs from important pieces to the rebuild. The pitching week was highlighted on Sunday as Carson Fulmer out-dueled the great Madison Bumgarner and the Giants.
If this is what the rotation could look like in 2018 then the Sox could be much closer to contending than anyone expects. Add on that this rotation still doesn’t include arguably the most talented pitcher in the Sox system, Michael Kopech, who should also be on the Sox at some point in 2018.
Jose Being Jose
Another player going into this season that was worth watching was Jose Abreu.
Abreu is interesting for a time some thought he may be traded for more pieces in the rebuild. Also, after this season, Abreu is headed for arbitration and the Sox will have to decide whether to sign him to a new contract or not.
Last Saturday, Abreu did something very rare by hitting for the cycle, the sixth time in franchise history a Sox player hit for the cycle. Abreu nearly did it again just three games later against the Royals but was a homer shy. The way he has played of late it seems to be a pretty easy decision now to sign Abreu to a new deal because he has been terrific.
Abreu’s slash line for the season is .308 AVG/.359 OBP/.559 SLG for an OPS of .918. So far he is having his second best WAR season in his professional career at 3.8, he is striking out less than he ever has in his career with a 17.6% strikeout rate and is having his best defensive year.
Overall it has been a great season for Abreu and he is looking like a franchise piece that will stick around for when this Sox team gets good.
Resurgence of Tim Anderson
Before the season the White Sox gave Tim Anderson a vote of confidence after they made a commitment by signing the unproven shortstop to a six year, $25 million dollar contract.
In a lot of ways the deal made sense for the Sox but at the same time the money and duration was based off of potential not actual results. Anderson had really struggled in the first half of the season with a slash line of .240 AVG/.263 OBP/.369 SLG for an OPS of .632.
Part of the slump may have been due to the mental toll of his best friend being murdered in early May, the White Sox helped Anderson get counseling towards the end of July. Anderson has expressed that this has made a huge difference for him mentally and it shows in his numbers since the all-star break.
As of now his slash line of .282 AVG/.295 OBP/.468 SLG for an OPS of .763. These numbers are an encouraging sign that Anderson is back to being the hitter that flashed before the contract. The one thing of concern moving forward into next year is his walk rate. Anderson does not walk much if at all and this season has a 2.4% walk rate, even after the all-star break his rate is 1.8%.
This will be an area of focus in the off-season but the Sox may just have to live with the low walk rate, at least Anderson is hitting again.
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