White Sox have a better record at this point than they did last season but should this be considered an improvement in the current rebuild?
As of Monday, May 20, the White Sox are currently 21-24 and sitting in third place in the American League Central. The Minnesota Twins lead the division at 30-16 and the Cleveland Indians trail them in second at 25-20. That’s not what matters though. What matters is the progress in the rebuild.
The White Sox have struggled to gain consistent traction so far in the season. Though they haven’t fallen too far towards the basement of the standings, they’ve yet to make a legitimate push towards the top. They’ve won some big games, but they’ve yet to put together a respectable winning streak, let along win four games in a row.
They’re still hanging around though.
I want to measure whether what the Sox are doing this year could be labeled as “improvement”. They’ve shown the ability to sit towards the middle of the standings in the last couple of years, and they’re continuing to do so now. Could this be the year they finally make a surge to the top?
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The first year the Sox appeared to be a team that was destined for a rebuild was 2013 when they finished 63-99, good for dead last in the AL Central. Well, On May 20, 2013, the Sox were 20-23 and in fourth place. One year later in 2014, they were 23-24, 18-19 in 2015, 19-22 in 2017, and 13-30 in 2018. I excluded the amazing start they had in 2016 as it was a clear outlier.
This shows that everything they have done to this point in 2019, they have proven before that they could do. In just about every year since the last remotely successful season (2012), the Sox have sat right below the .500 mark at this point. They’re doing it again here in 2019.
It goes beyond the numbers, however.
The young Sox team that is taking the field in 2019 is plagued by the injury bug. Not only has Michael Kopech been out since September due to Tommy John surgery, but plenty more have made their way to the injured list since Opening Day. Eloy Jimenez, Carlos Rodon, Nate Jones, and Jon Jay are all currently on the injured list for the Sox. However, Jimenez was just reactivated on Monday, It is a huge factor in the limited success of the team thus far.
In addition, there are still a lot of questions that go into the current foundation of this team. Is Rick Renteria the long term manager in the rebuild? It is a question that has been hotly debated since the beginning of this young season. A handful of players that have played or play on the team this season are not part of the long term plans. Players such as Manny Banuelos probably won’t be around after this season, but who knows.
The improvement of key players in the rebuild is also an essential part of a successful rebuild. In the Sox case, their key pieces are looking pretty good right now.
Tim Anderson is having the epitome of a breakout year. Not only is he catching all of the baseball worlds attention with his bat throws, but he’s backing up his talk with his play. Coming off the AL Player of the Month Award in April, Anderson is staying hot thus far in May. He’s hitting .335 with eight home runs, and he has also been towards the top of steal leaders in the AL with 13 steals.
Yoan Moncada has cooled down a bit since his burning hot start, but the switch hitters numbers are still something to smile about to this point. He’s just south of the .300 mark with a .291 batting average, and he also has nine home runs and is second on the team with 29 RBIs. Just as some icing on the cake, he has also shown his speed by stealing four bags.
Although Jimenez has spent a good portion of the season on the bench due to injury, he was still able to demonstrate some of his skills in his 21 games with the team. He has three home runs so far, including a two home run game versus the New York Yankees back on April 12. He’s 19-for-79 overall so far in his rookie season.
Lucas Giolito has begun to look like a leader on the mound for the Sox, coming up with plenty of good starts in 2019 thus far. He’s 5-1 with a 3.35 ERA and has a whip of 1.16. He’s also striking out a good amount, with 50 in 43 innings pitched.
Reynaldo Lopez hasn’t been at the top of his game all season, but he has shown us what he’s like at his best. Back on April 28, he struck out 14 batters in his start against the Detroit Tigers. He helped the White Sox set a franchise record for strikeouts in a game. Otherwise, he has a 3-4 record with a 5.14 ERA.
So where does this start by the White Sox compare to other great rebuilds? On May 20, 2014, the eventual American League Champion Kansas City Royals sat at 22-23, third place in the AL Central. On May 20, 2016, one year before they won the World Series, the Houston Astros were 17-26 sitting in last place in the AL West. The list goes on.
From the information I’ve gone over, it’s hard to distinctly say whether the Sox have improved to this point. However, I can assure it’s definitely headed up. Their key pieces are doing their jobs and they are succeeding to the point they need to right now. At this point, their potential is endless.