D.J. Short

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Team Roundup: White Sox

Friday, October 6, 2017


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Chicago White Sox
2017 Record - 67-95
Fourth Place, AL Central
Team ERA: 4.78 (25th)
Team OPS: .731 (24th)

What Went Right

Most importantly, the White Sox continued to add to their impressive prospect stockpile, selling off Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Melky Cabrera, and Anthony Swarzak before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Eloy Jimenez, acquired in the Quintana deal with the crosstown Cubs, was the most impressive name in the haul. It wasn’t all about trades, as the White Sox signed highly-regarded Cuban outfielder Luis Robert to a $26 million deal in May. As far as the on-field product, Jose Abreu delivered his best season since his first year in the big leagues, hitting .304/.354/.552 with 33 home runs and 102 RBI. He’s the third player in MLB history to reach at least 25 homers and 100 RBI in each of his first four seasons in the majors, joining Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols. Avisail Garcia came out of nowhere to finish second in the American League with a .330 batting average. Lucas Giolito reeled off a 2.38 ERA over seven starts with the White Sox after his promotion in August. Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada both finished the season on high note.

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What Went Wrong

A lot, but that was largely by design for the rebuilding club. The rotation was perhaps the biggest issue, as they ranked 25th in the majors with a 5.09 ERA. Carlos Rodon made just 12 starts all year and required arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder last week. Derek Holland started out well enough, but he was released in September after posting a dreadful 6.16 ERA and 1.70 WHIP over 26 starts and three relief appearances. James Shields struggled with a 5.23 ERA over 21 starts while Fernando Tatis, Jr. (who was traded to the Padres for Shields) has emerged as one of the better young prospects in the game. Ouch. As mentioned above, Tim Anderson finished on a high note, but he saw his OPS dip from .738 in his rookie season to .679 in 2017. Fantasy owners regularly targeted the White Sox for steals, as teams ran like wild on Chicago’s catchers.

Fantasy Slants

**After “significant bursitis” was found with Carlos Rodon's shoulder surgery, his recovery time is expected to take 6-8 months. We should know more about an exact timetable as spring training approaches, but it sounds like he could miss at least a portion of the first half next year. It’s too bad, as the hope is that he’ll be the leader of this rotation alongside youngsters Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer, and eventually Michael Kopech.

**Tim Anderson might have had a strong finish to the season, but it was a disappointing year on the whole. The 24-year-old was batting just .232 with a .601 OPS through August 1 before hitting .299 with an .807 OPS along with eight homers and nine steals over his final 53 games. Anderson had the lowest walk rate in the majors and now owns a rough 279/26 K/BB ratio through his first 245 games in the majors. There are obvious flaws in his game, but amassing 17 homers and 15 steals makes him interesting in most mixed leagues. Hopefully the speed we saw down the stretch is a sign of things to come. Anderson swiped as many as 49 bases in a season in the minors.

**After posting an underwhelming .258/.310/.385 batting line through his first 409 games in the majors, Avisail Garcia broke out this season by hitting .330/.380/.506 with 18 homers and 80 RBI over 136 games. He earned his first All-Star selection along the way. The 26-year-old improved his contact rate and utilized a more pull-heavy approach, so there were some notable changes here, but we have to mention his .392 BABIP. It was far and away the highest in the majors. In fact, it was the highest by any qualified hitter in MLB since Chris Johnson had a .394 BABIP in 2013. It’s overly simplistic to say that a hitter got lucky, as there are a variety of factors involved with this sort of thing, but it’s an impossibly high bar to set for yourself. It’s not like he stands out on the power front, so he’s probably someone I’ll be avoiding in drafts next year.   

**White Sox fans couldn’t wait to get a look at Yoan Moncada after he came over from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale deal, but they ended up having to wait until after the All-Star break. The toolsy 22-year-old scuffled out of the gate (.188/.328/.356 over 30 games) prior to hitting the disabled list with a bone contusion in his right shin in August, but he hit .276/.349/.469 with eight extra-base hits (including five homers), 11 RBI, two steals, and 18 runs scored over 24 games in September after returning. Moncada struck out in 32 percent of his plate appearances on the whole, so contact was an issue, but he showed good patience and the pop and speed is obvious. I suspect there will be some ups and downs during his first full season in the majors, but he still figures to be a very popular name in drafts next spring.

**It wasn’t too long ago that Lucas Giolito was considered one of the game’s top overall prospects, but his stock was on the decline prior to being traded to the White Sox last offseason as part of the Adam Eaton deal. The 23-year-old put up some underwhelming numbers with Triple-A Charlotte (4.48 ERA, 134/59 K/BB ratio in 128 2/3 innings) this season prior to being called up in August, but he posted a 2.38 ERA through seven starts with the White Sox down the stretch. He’s not the hard thrower he was when he was regularly at the top of prospect lists, but his changeup has emerged as a legitimate weapon. I’d be careful about going all-in just because of the shiny ERA, though, as Giolito struck out just 34 batters while giving up eight homers in 45 1/3 innings. He benefitted from a .189 BABIP and a 92 percent strand rate, so metrics like FIP (4.94) and SIERA (4.49) didn’t really back up what he was doing. Pitching in a hitter-friendly ballpark in the American League only increases the degree of difficulty when looking at him as a possible breakout candidate for 2018. It’s possible that we’ll see an uptick in velocity with an offseason of rest/conditioning. In that case, he’d be pretty interesting. I’ll be watching him closely in the spring.

**Perhaps the biggest question for the White Sox in 2018 is when we’ll see top prospects Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech. Acquired from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale deal, the hard-throwing Kopech posted a 2.88 ERA and 172/65 K/BB ratio in 134 1/3 innings between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. He still needs to work on his control and his changeup, but there’s top-of-the-rotation potential here. And he’s now just a step away from the majors. As for Jimenez, he batted .312/.379/.568 with 19 homers over 89 games between High-A and Double-A this year. Not bad for someone who won’t turn 21 years old until November. One of the top power hitting prospects in the game, Jimenez could find his way to the majors in the second half next year.  

**Juan Minaya became the closer-by-default down the stretch after the White Sox traded David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, and Anthony Swarzak. There was a bit of a rough patch around the start of September, but he finished the year with eight straight scoreless appearances. Still, his season was a mixed bag on the whole (4.53 ERA with 51 strikeouts and 20 walks in 43 2/3 innings). If Nate Jones comes back healthy after elbow surgery, he could be the team’s best option at closer. Of course, if he has any success, he’ll end up being a trade chip. He has a really favorable contract.  

Key free agents: None. No, Mike Pelfrey doesn’t count.

Team needs: It’s all about the future here, so mostly progress from their prospects and young players. I could see the club adding a veteran arm for the rotation and the bullpen.



D.J. Short is a Rotoworld senior baseball writer and hosts the Rotoworld Baseball Podcast. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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