As the White Sox season comes to a close in a few weeks, it’s only appropriate to start analyzing the way it went.
Despite the White Sox finishing fourth (and possibly third) in the AL Central, there were some players who stood out from the rest.
In fact, three players appeared to have breakout seasons, that may have made them recognizable outside of the South Side. A breakout player is one exceeds expectations and becomes well known for his performance on the field.
Getting respect from the MLB
"“Rodon’s strikeout rate has dropped, but everything else has been golden for him this year, and he looks like a rotation mainstay moving forward.”"
While Rodon might not yet be a household name in the same way that Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander are, but he is on his way. He carries himself with professionalism and poise on the mound. Rodon’s 3.10 ERA would put him in the top 10 in AL pitchers, had he not missed a significant portion of the season recovering from shoulder surgery.
He may occasionally have a hiccup or two during games, but it is clear that he is learning from his mistakes. An article by Al Melchior with Rotographs about fantasy baseball captured Rodon’s performance perfectly:
"“Every single one of Rodon’s nine starts in July and August was a quality start, and six of them lasted seven innings or more.”"
At age 24, Rodon has serious upside. He’s already been in the MLB for four years and he is maturing well. He dropped his WHIP to 1.115, down from 1.3s and 1.4s in previous seasons. The kid is on his way and we get to watch him enjoy his successes and learn from the losses.
Breaking out in his rookie year
The other player who is having a breakout season is Daniel Palka. It also just so happens to be his rookie season. This kid can rake and he continues to prove it on a regular basis. He might be completely unknown to baseball fans outside of Chicago, but the fact that he is rookie ranking with the ones with huge fan bases will put some eyes on him.
Consider this: Palka has hit the same number of home runs as Anthony Rizzo, Aaron Hicks, and Justin Smoak. Impressive. Along with his ability to hit the long ball, Palka should also be known for his physique. It is clear that he works out and that it is helping him have success between the lines.
Developing his role as a leader
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The third player having a breakout season is Carlos Sanchez. Defensively, he has made some eye-popping plays at the hot corner. Sanchez also is performing well offensively and he shares the AL triples lead with Kevin Kiermaier and Mallex Smith (who are both noted speedsters). Each man has nine triples. Sanchez has more doubles, home runs, RBIs, and walks than those two men.
Sanchez could easily become one of the future faces of the White Sox franchise. He enters arbitration at the end of this season and does not enter free agency until 2022. Defensively, he ranks third at third base in regards to fielding percentage, just a few points below Jeimer Candelario with the Tigers and Kyle Seager with the Mariners. He has the third-best range, too, behind Matt Chapman with the A’s and Seager. This play against the Angels shows what Sanchez can do:
Again, he’s a young player, and at age 26, he has room to continue improving. Sanchez is a fun player to watch and as long as he continues to impress fans, he will only become better known outside of Chicago. Interestingly, his batting stats this season are just a little under his stats from 2017, but there is a subtle confidence that has grown in him and a durability that is worth noting. He’s played in 143 games in 2018 – his best season, yet.
All three of these men, Rodon, Palka, and Sanchez, have made the 2018 ChiSox season enjoyable. And, hopefully, they will be doing that for several more seasons as their experience makes them even better than they are now.