After watching just two games of White Sox baseball in 2016, there has been a culture change, no doubt. I realize some of you may wonder why I am writing this article after just two games but it is simple: look at last night. How many times over the past several seasons have the Sox given up the lead in one inning (especially late-even though it was just a tie), and then come right back, and go out in front? Not many.
I think a lot of this is due to the new players that are on the ball club. Even though Jimmy Rollins is unlikely to hit .300 in 2016, it is very possible that he will get many key hits due to the fact that he is a clutch hitter. A lot of hitting in key situations is a mentality, which is something the Sox have lacked over the last several years. The faster a team develops this mentality, the closer games they will win over the course over a 162-game season.
Something else I have noticed is a lot of energy from the team, which is something that has been severely lacking since 2008 (the last season the White Sox made the postseason). Any team that wants to win needs to be energetic, just due to the fact that when something bad happens on the field it is key for someone to pick the team up emotionally. Finding players with that mold is hard, and if a team can have a few of them it is a luxury (which the Sox have). Another key for a team is to find a player or two who won’t tolerate a lack of hustle, and second baseman Brett Lawrie helps out in that department tremendously.
Here is the biggest change: leadership. When the Sox brought in Jimmy Rollins among others, it meant Robin Ventura wouldn’t have to police the players as much as in as years past. The catching position has also undergone a leadership upgrade, with Dioner Navarro and Alex Avila’s addition to the roster. It helps to have leaders at catcher and shortstop, which the White Sox have. Center fielder Austin Jackson’s defense is a key as well, which will help the Sox immensely over the course of the season.
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Overall, the Sox look to be much improved over 2015 in pretty much every area so far. Given it is just two games, however the defense is so much better it is comical. The Sox biggest question mark is at the back end of the rotation, and that is when they are going to have to hit better if the want to win those games. I still think that the offense will have its ups and downs, but keep in mind it is better than is 2015, mostly due to the protection that Todd Frazier provides for Jose Abreu. Once Abreu realizes that Frazier is behind him and doesn’t press in key situations, he will reach his full potential. The 2016 season looks much more promising than 2015, but expect bumps in the road. Enjoy the ride, Sox fans.