Are rebuilding White Sox overachieving this season? South Siders getting solid contributions from surprising players.
Going into the 2017 season, many pundits and fans alike felt as though the White Sox could be the worst team in Major League Baseball. While they have not been contenders (in last place at the moment), the club has outperformed its’ expectations to an extent (28-36 record). Given this situation presents its’ advantages and disadvantages, one positive is the amount of young players getting their chance to play. Let’s take an in-depth look at where the Sox currently sit at this moment.
The most impressive part of this is the lack of starting pitching. Jose Quintana’s ERA is over five (5.30), James Shields only pitched in three games, and Carlos Rodon has yet to make his 2017 debut. Currently, the Sox are sending David Holmberg and Mike Pelfrey to the bump 40 percent of the time. It is not easy to have any success that way, especially when your ace has an ERA that is worthy of the back of the rotation.
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Moving on to the lineup, a pair of young bats have broken through in 2017. Outfielder Avisail Garcia is leading the American League in hitting (.339), while infielder Matt Davidson leads the Sox in home runs with 13. Neither player made a significant impact in 2016, however both have been keys to the run production aspect so far this season.
Speaking of Garcia, it is very likely he will be the lone representative for the Sox at the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami. Even though Davidson has produced in power department, he still struggles to make contact (68 strikeouts in 166 at bats) which pencils out to 41 percent of the time. If he wants to stick around at the big league level that will need to improve in short order.
Here is where the Sox could go from mediocre to terrible in a heartbeat: the bullpen. It is well known that the club wants to rebuild, and the way to accelerate such a plan is to acquire young talent. Both closer David Robertson and Anthony Swarzak will most likely be moved. Setup men Nate Jones and Tommy Kahnle could be shipped out as well depending on the return. The only problem with Jones is he is currently disabled with right elbow neuritis. Whether a trade happens or not is to be determined, however multiple late-inning arms are unlikely to be here after July 31.
Overall, the Sox have surprised a significant portion of fans, not necessarily by contending but in the way some of their players have performed so far in 2017. As stated in the above paragraph, there will be several subtractions to the team moving forward, meaning coming anywhere near 75 wins could be out of the question. Don’t expect the South Siders to finish anywhere but the bottom this year, but they could keep accumulating resources for a pennant chase sometime down the road.