White Sox have two important players that could be key contributors in this rebuild. Can both young players become stars for the South Siders?
This season has been the year of the rebuild for the Chicago White Sox. The victories, the numbers, the successes and the many failures mean almost nothing compared to how important the growth and development of this young team is.
While it’s nice to see players like Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera and even Todd Frazier and David Robertson play well from time to time, it’s almost certain that all Sox fans would prefer to see the younger players improve and progress throughout this season. And lucky for them and the team, they have for the most part.
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The top three hitters this season in terms of overall batting average, hits, RBI, and on-base percentage, have been Yolmer Sanchez , Leury Garcia , and Avisail Garcia. Each of these players are under 27 years of age and it’s great to see them start to lead this team in the direction the organization has decided to go in this season.
However, the rebuild is not depending on those three players because of their ability to maintain their performances as well as their future on this team. The rebuild is actually depending on another pair of players that began this process a few seasons ago.
Draft picks are one of the most crucial elements of a rebuild. It’s how teams like the Cubs, Astros, Dodgers and Yankees have been so great this season, the last few seasons, and will continue to be great for the next few seasons. The White Sox picked up a lot of players in their moves from this past offseason, but their new star prospects will not be ready to make a serious impact at least until next season.
Because of that wait, the Sox will need other young star players to lead this young team when they are ready to compete. The players that need to lead this young team need to be proven at the big league level, but can also have some room to develop and grow. These players are Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon, both drafted by the White Sox.
Anderson and Rodon have proven themselves in the Majors, more so Rodon than Anderson, but both players definitely have the talent to be two of the best players on the Sox when the time comes. Rodon has been in the league for the last two years but has failed to make his 2017 debut with a variety of concerning injuries. Injuries have plagued his young career but he has shown to have real nasty stuff for a big 24-year old left-hander.
In 2015, Rodon had a stretch from August to the end of the season where he pitched at least six innings, only allowed three runs or less, went 7-2 in 10 starts and recorded 70 strikeouts. In 2016, seven of his first nine starts he pitched at least six innings, only allowed four earned or less, and recorded at least six strikeouts. In fact, in all of 2016 he only went less than five innings just twice in his 28 starts.
Anderson had a stellar rookie season after being called up from Triple-A Charlotte in early June of 2016. His batting average hovered around the .280-.300 range for most of the season and ended the year batting a respectable .283, good enough for fourth-best on the team. Despite having nearly 200 less plate appearances than the best Sox hitters last season – Abreu, Cabrera, Adam Eaton – he managed to almost match their season totals in doubles (22, fourth-best on Sox), triples (six, second-best on Sox), stolen bases (10, fourth-best on Sox), slugging percentage (.432, fourth-best on Sox), and on-base plus slugging (.732, sixth-best on Sox).
The young shortstop did not have eye-popping numbers, but they were good enough to suggest he could have a very bright future. As far as defensively, it’s definitely the worst aspect of his game. Anderson finished with the 19th-most errors in MLB last season with 14 and is currently leading the MLB in errors with 14.
After promising years, this season has not been as fruitful for both Rodon and Anderson. Rodon, barely making his first rehab starts of his now-long road to recovery, and Anderson, who is just starting to perform well after a terrible start to the season.
For these two hopeful stars, their success in 2017 is imperative. Rodon is expected to lead a very star-studded pitching rotation in the next few years that is should feature Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer, Michael Kopech and possibly Dane Dunning. Rodon, with limited MLB success, will be expected to lead this very young staff because of his already-expanded workload in the Majors, as well as his potential, which the Sox believe to be very high.
For Anderson, having a big 2017, offensively and defensively, will do wonders for the future of the team. As the shortstop, he’s already considered the captain of the infield but with two or three consecutive seasons of solid production, he can be one of the leaders of a young team full of stars.
Many players fall victim to the sophomore slump – not just in baseball – and while it seemed like Anderson was succumbing to that dreadful slump, he’s starting to pick it up in the dog days of the season. He’s just coming off a six-game hitting streak, his fourth streak of five games or more this season. He’s hitting a measly .258 this season but over his last 28 games, he’s recorded 35 hits, 10 extra base hits, four home runs and 54 total bases. For the month May, he hit .333, which was much better than his .237 April batting average.
Rodon and Anderson are mostly overlooked when it comes to the White Sox rebuild. While the main focus surrounds the players down on the farm, it’s Rodon and Anderson that can actually have a major influence and impact on the future success of the White Sox. For that sole reason, the Sox are hoping Anderson can continue to grow this season and Rodon is lights out and has his best year in the Majors when he returns.