By Sidney Brown (@sidkid80)
Phase Two of the great Chicago White Sox rebuild is officially in the books, complete with a 62-100 record for 2018.
The “100” is a daunting element of the record to look at, it’s a rarity in the long history of the Sox — only the fourth time the franchise has lost that much and the first time its done so since 1970.
Still, it took a particularly bad last month of the season to get to that mark — the South Siders lost 11 of the their last 14 games and 18 of their last 24, for instance — and at this point of a multi-year building up of the franchise’s talent base it what does it really matter if the club loses 100 or 98 or 95, this is still a club that’s a long way from being a consistent winner.
2018 was another year of tryouts for potential players to become part of the future while learning the ins and outs on the big stage. Many more new Sox got to do just that while others built on their development from 2017 or 2016. Much steam was lost in September, but unlike another Chicago baseball team there wasn’t the sting of being in control of things and suddenly not being in control.
As far as the Sox are concerned they have as much control now as they had in April, literally as much control in the case of a player like Eloy Jimenez. Seven of the top 100 prospects in minor league baseball still belong to the South Side and though one of them will be on the shelf until 2020, the idea of as many as half of the remaining six prospects getting quality playing time in 2019 will make the Sox a more interesting team than they deserve to be for the near future.
As for what’s in the rear view — there were some positives and negatives from the top level team in 2018, but the main goal was continuing to establish a new winning culture for years to come. Let’s start with the negatives.
Most Strikeouts In A Single Season
- 2018 – Chicago White Sox (1,585)
- 2017 – Milwaukee Brewers (1,571)
- 2016 – Milwaukee Brewers (1,543)
- 2013 – Houston Astros (1,535)
- 2011 – Arizona Diamondbacks (1,529)
The Sox must learn how to be more patient at the plate by being more selective with pitches and taking more walks while putting pressure on the opposition.
- Runs – 652 (12th in AL)
- Batting Average – .241 (13th in AL)
- RBI – 635 (12th in AL)
One clear positive regarding the Sox, even if it isn’t completely reflected in the numbers, is how assertive much of the club’s young pitchers are now. Essentially the top three pitchers in the Sox’s rotation now are all recent draft picks and under the team’s control for the time being.
Encouraging performances were scattered throughout the season by each of the new top three and hot prospect Michael Kopech provided a short shot in the arm in late August after his call up, making the news that ended his season all that tougher to swallow, but given what we saw this summer Kopech can know that he won’t be tasked to bring the Sox’s rotation back on his own.
- Lucas Giolito (10-13 record, 6.13 ERA, 125 K)
- Carlos Rodon (6-8 record, 4.18 ERA, 90 K)
- Reynaldo Lopez (7-10 record, 3.91 ERA, 151 K)
- Michael Kopech (1-1 record, 5.02 ERA, 15 K) *Will miss the entire 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery*
Let’s turn our attention now to the breakout stars who along with the veterans contributed offensively and lent respectability to the South Siders’ efforts.
- Jose Abreu (.265 AVG, 22 HR, 78 RBI)
- Tim Anderson (.240 AVG, 20 HR, 64 RBI)
- Yoan Moncada (.235 AVG, 17 HR, 61RBI)
- Daniel Palka (.240 AVG, 27 HR, 67 RBI)
- Matt Davidson (.228 AVG, 20 HR, 62 RBI)
- Adam Engel (.235 AVG, 6 HR, 29 RBI)
- Nicky Delmonico (.215 AVG, 8 HR, 25 RBI)
What is the plan for the off-season you may ask? Will the youth movement continue to define things? Or will the Sox sign a couple of big time free agents to mix things up?
Most believe that the plan is to continue to build from within. In Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease and Zach Collins the franchise does not lack potential stars, the type of talents that could be used to lead the charge every day at “The Rate” or maybe draw in another finished talent from elsewhere. As more time develops more talent the options for the Sox could multiply in ways we can’t even imagine now.
Whatever results from this upcoming winter, Sox fans can be content knowing that there are pieces in the big leagues ready to compete now day to day. That may not equate to wins even half the time yet, but in two to three seasons that equation should change.
Sidney Brown covers the Chicago Blackhawks for WARR