By Sidney Brown (@sidkid80)
They weren’t the “Go-Go Sox” and they certainly didn’t stain the franchise like the “Black Sox,” but with youthful spirit and increasingly obvious talent, the current Chicago White Sox earned the right this year to be as memorable a South Side team as there’s been since, obviously, 2005.
Should the Sox hang up any more banners in the near future, there’s a good chance that team will feature much of the talent that established themselves in 2019.
Finishing with a record of 73-89, a 10-game improvement over the previous season, there was a whole lot of excitement made this summer from key Sox that made the team interesting and allowed for the extended re-build on the South Side to stay its course.
Tim Anderson came to exude that excitement and promise more than any White Sox over the course of this season. No. 7 stood front and center from spring training, full of swag and purpose, knowing that he was ready to step his game up in 2019. And he certainly did, battling division rivals and cultural forces along the way, until season’s end when he got to stand alone as the most consistent hitter in baseball.
Anderson won his first batting title with a .335 average, along with 18 home runs and 56 RBI.
MLB Batting Average Leaders
Tim Anderson (SOX): .335
Christian Yelich (MIL): .329
Kernel Marte (ARZ): .329
Yoan Moncada (SOX): .315
Elsewhere, the team’s veteran leader, Jose Abreu, was nothing short of remarkable, hitting over 30 home runs while tallying a career high in RBI and leading the American League in the process. Jose’s steady and powerful presence in the lineup helped guys like Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Moncada and James McCann become household names.
American League RBI Leaders
Jose Abreu (SOX): 123
Xander Bogaerts (BOS): 117
Jorge Soler (KC): 117
Rafael Devers (BOS): 115
Alex Bregman (HOU): 112
Moncada has come a long way in his time as a White Sox — from being projected to be an early bust to nearly being named an all-star, Yoan turned a big corner in his development while playing a new position (third base) and being more patient at the plate, which paid huge dividends and bulked up his numbers big time.
Yoan Moncada 2018 vs. 2019
2018: .235 AVG, 17 HR, 61 RBI, 136 H, 217 K
2019: .315 AVG, 25 HR, 79 RBI, 161 H, 154 K
Lucas Giolito: From the Basement to the Penthouse
Expectations were high for Giolito ever since he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in 2016. After struggling all of last season, a change in his arm slot along with his mental edge made this young ace a first time all-star and this site’s Chicago first half MVP. A new leader looks to be at the ready to lead this pitching rotation in the future.
2018: 10-13 record, 6.13 ERA, 176.1 IP, 166 H, 125 K, 90 BB
2019: 14-9 record, 3.41 ERA, 176.2 IP, 131 H, 228 K, 57 BB
Starting pitching is becoming a major strength for the Sox and with the return of Michael Kopech coming in 2020, the starting staff has the chance to be special for years to come. A couple of potential young stars further down the rotation showed sparks of what they can offer as the Sox continue to develop.
Dylan Cease: 4-7 record, 5.79 ERA, 78 IP, 81 K, 35 BB (14 starts)
Reynaldo Lopez: 10-15 record, 5.38 ERA, 184 IP, 169 K, 65 BB
After suffering league-wide embarrassment in not signing Manny Machado last winter, the Sox drew strength from their already established core and showed great potential for growth from within.
This is likely just the kind of set-up general manager Rick Hahn is looking for to compete in 2020, but challenges await the Sox in regards to bringing up more waiting talent from the minors and trying to finally establish the Sox as a landing spot for top free-agent talent.
Nick Madrigal and Luis Robert‘s development from the minors will instill more excitement as well as some potential anxiety as they go through their respective growing pains. A veteran starting pitcher and a designated hitter/right fielder will be needed to fill out the roster — potential free agents who could draw positive attention if the Sox land them include Gerrit Cole, Cole Hamels, Madison Baumgartner and JD Martinez (if he opts out of his contract from Boston).
With the team looking like they’ve turned the page, excitement is a high as it has ever been on the South Side in a good 15 years. Can the front office capitalize off this momentum? At most we’ll have until February to get some answers, but some of these questions may need to get addressed in the meantime.
Sidney Brown is WARR Media's resident Chicago sports historian