David Shovein

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Team Roundup: White Sox

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


Chicago White Sox


2018 Record: 62-100

Fourth Place: AL Central

Team ERA: 4.84 (26th in MLB)

Team OPS: .703 (23rd in MLB)


What Went Right

One thing that did go right in a brutal rebuilding year for the White Sox, was the emergence of Daniel Palka as a legitimate power source in the middle of the lineup. The 26-year-old rookie outfielder slugged a team-leading 27 homers in only 417 at-bats. Tim Anderson had a nice season, from a fantasy perspective, with 20 homers and 26 stolen bases, but his .281 OBP is cringe-worthy. Joakim Soria pitched very well out of the closer’s role, registering a 2.56 ERA and 16 saves before being dealt to the Brewers for a pair of prospects. Reynaldo Lopez finished the season strong and looks like an intriguing commodity going forward.



What Went Wrong

The White Sox weren’t expected to contend in 2018, but they weren’t supposed to be this bad, finishing with their first 100 loss season since 1970. The year was supposed to be an opportunity to jumpstart their rebuild effort, giving their top prospects a chance to get their feet wet with legitimate playing time at the big league level. Unfortunately, one of their top prospects (Michael Kopech) tore his UCL after only 14 ⅓ innings at the big league level and will miss the entire 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Jose Abreu had his worst season in the big leagues, slashing just .265/.325/.473 (a far cry from his career .295/.353/.516) and missing time due to injury. Lucas Giolito was counted on to be a major part of the rotation, but he stumbled to a miserable 6.13 ERA and 1.48 WHIP over 173 1/3 innings, though he did make 32 starts. 


Fantasy Slants

** It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish. 24-year-old right-hander Reynaldo Lopez got stronger as the season went on, posting a 2.70 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 65/20 K/BB ratio across 66 ⅔ innings in his final 11 starts of the season. The season-long numbers don’t look overly impressive, but there’s plenty of upside here heading into the 2019 season.

 

** The White Sox let 23-year-old Yoan Moncada learn on the job in 2018, functioning as their primary second baseman and leadoff hitter from the get-go. The results were mixed. While he hit 17 home runs, he did so while striking out a whopping 217 times, the most in all of baseball. Also, the dynamic game-changing speed that he showed in the minor leagues didn’t translate, stealing just 12 bases in 18 attempts on the season. The future is still bright for Moncada, but he’s got to cut down that 33.4% whiff rate or he’s going to remain a major drain on batting average.


** Between suspension and injury, Welington Castillo only managed to appear in 49 games during his first season with the White Sox, but he remained one of the top offensive performers at the catcher position while he was in there, slashing .259/.304/.406 with six homers and 15 RBI. He feels like someone who is going to go overlooked in drafts next spring, making him a nice late-round value at a position that was a wasteland for the most part in 2018.


** It’s hard to know what exactly to make of Daniel Palka heading into 2019. From July 3 onward, he slugged 20 home runs in only 70 games. He flashed plus-power potential in the minor leagues, and his average fly ball distance and HR/FB ratio check out that a repeat could be in the cards. The issue is the 34.1% strikeout rate which will continue to bring his average down. You also have to wonder if there’s some speed component here. In 2015, Palka swiped 24 bases in 129 games at High-A Visalia, but only attempted three steals with the White Sox. If he can nab 5-6 bases to go along with 25+ home runs, he has the makings of a useful fourth or fifth outfielder in deeper mixed leagues.


** It’s hard to get excited about the White Sox’ future without talking about 21-year-old prospect Eloy Jimenez. The club’s top prospect, he slashed a tremendous .337/.384/.577 with 22 homers and 75 RBI in 108 games between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. He should join the White Sox after the Super-Two deadline passes next season and will be a fixture in the middle of the White Sox’ lineup for the next decade. He should be considered one of the early favorites for the American League Rookie of the Year award.



Key Free Agents: Miguel Gonzalez, Nate Jones ($4.65 million club option, $1.25 million buyout), James Shields ($16 million club option, $2 million buyout)



Team Needs: It’s hard to say that a team that won’t be expected to compete in 2018 really has needs heading into the offseason. It looks like the White Sox have four of the five spots in their rotation spoken for heading into next season, with Carlos Rodon, Dylan Covey, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez seemingly locked in. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the White Sox add a veteran arm on a one-year deal, with the intent to flip them at the trade deadline if they perform well. The same could be said for their closer’s role, if they opt to decline the option on Nate Jones. It also won’t be surprising to see them field offers on Jose Abreu, who’s entering his final season of arbitration and will be a free agent after the 2019 season.




Dave Shovein is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveShovein.
Email :David Shovein



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