White Sox: Top Storylines from First Half of Season
White Sox 2017 season has gone as expected, but there have been a few surprises on the South Side. What are some intriguing storylines from first half?
With the 2017 season just past the 81-game mark, it is an ideal opportunity to take a look at some of the key storylines that have occurred so far on the South Side. Considering this is a rebuilding year, some of the action will take place off the field, however here is what is going on at Guaranteed Rate Field.
OF Avisail Garcia, RHP Tommy Kahnle (tie)
Heading into 2017, both of these players had been somewhat of an enigma throughout their careers. Garcia, who was acquired in 2013 in the Jake Peavy trade was a physical specimen who never put much together while Kahnle could touch triple digits with his fastball but struggled to find home plate. Both players broke out this season, as Garcia earned his first All-Star selection and Kahnle is dominating as a late-inning reliever.
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Delving deeper into their excellence, Garcia has been among the league leaders in hitting, even pacing all hitters in average for a stretch. He may have fallen off a bit lately, however Garcia is still batting over .300 (.317 exactly) while battling a knee injury. Kahnle’s brilliance out of the pen cannot be understated, considering he has only allowed earned runs to cross the plate in seven out of 34 appearances (nine earned runs total).
Either of these players could help the rebuild long term, as they could ship them out for prospects or keep them due to the fact that neither are over the age of 26 at the moment.
LHP Jose Quintana
For most White Sox fans, Quintana was the club’s main trade chip as the season opened in April. Unfortunately, things haven’t turned out the way Rick Hahn had hoped, as Quintana’s mediocre 2017 could be an issue if they attempt to move him by July 31.
Even though Quintana has pitched much better recently, his ERA is still just below 4.50 (4.45), not to mention his record is nowhere near that of a front-line starter (4-8). Keep in mind that he is under control for several more years, so the Sox could keep him in hopes he has a better year sometime down the road.
Where did they come from?
INF/OF Leury Garcia and C Kevan Smith (tie)
Both of these players were borderline big leaguers heading into 2017, however they have far exceeded expectations. Garcia made several trips between Charlotte and Chicago over the past several years, and when he was with the big club he mostly sat on the bench.
With Rick Renteria at the helm many different players are seeing the field, and Garcia has benefited from this change in philosophy. He has out homered his career total by four (6 so far-only 2 before 2017), not to mention is hitting nearly .300 (.298) with 22 RBI’s. While he is currently disabled, expect him to excel once he returns as he has the ability to play all over the diamond.
Moving onto Smith, this is an even more unlikely player to perform in a starting role for the Sox. Not only has Smith started for an extended period of time, he is playing well behind the dish for the South Siders. Even though he has a DWAR of -0.2, Smith is hitting .290 with a home run and 13 RBI’s. Given the league has yet to adjust to a player who had sixteen career at bats before 2017, this is still a pleasant surprise Sox fans should enjoy for the time being.
July 31 Trade Deadline
While the Sox will not be adding pieces for a run at a World Series crown in 2017, expect Hahn to make as many moves as possible for the future. With many trade assets as the Sox have, not to mention valuable ones, now is a great time to wheel and deal for the front office at 35th and Shields.
Next: Carlos Rodon Dominant in Second Start from Injury
Overall, the Sox first half has been a bit more enjoyable than many expected. Due to the play by many of their young players, there is no reason to think that the club is not positioned well for the next several years. On top of that, the Sox will have multiple waves of youth come up from the minors who have the potential to be even better than what we are seeing currently at Guaranteed Rate Field now.
Can you believe the All-Star break is coming up Sox fans? Shocking, isn’t it.