The Chicago White Sox made a lot of moves this offseason to improve the team, but it could be a rookie from last season that makes the biggest difference in 2020.
Eloy Jimenez is going to be entering his sophomore campaign in the big leagues and with that comes increased expectations.
After having a good start to his career offensively in which he hit .267/.315/.513 with 31 home runs, 79 RBI, and a 116 wRC+, Jimenez will be looking to take further strides in 2020.
He ended off the final month of the season red hot with a scorching 1.090 OPS in September which is a great sign of things to come.
While the likelihood is he won’t dominate to that extent at the plate, his .870 OPS in the second half would certainly suffice for a whole season.
Defense is the area in which he could use significant improvement as he had -11 DRS and a -5.1 UZR in left field across 967 2/3 innings.
However, Jimenez has made it his mission to ensure he never has to become a DH due to his defensive woes as detailed by Vinnie Duber of NBC Sports Chicago.
“It’s going to be better. I put more effort this offseason, too. It’s going to be better,” Jimenez said at SoxFest. “I know it can be better. I wasn’t disappointed when Rick took me out of the game, I just said, ‘He’s not going to do it anymore because I’m going to put in more effort and I’m going to work hard at that.’ This year, you’re going to see a surprise.”
If Jimenez can improve his defensive issues and become even league average in left field he becomes a significantly better player than he is currently. Even while struggling in that aspect of his game, he registered a 1.9 fWAR in 2019.
The 23-year-old still hasn’t even entered his prime yet which gives him ample room to grow.
It’s easy to not acknowledge a young player like him after their rookie season as he is no longer the shiny new object as he is a carryover from last year’s 72-89 team and prospects such as Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal are set to make their MLB debuts this season.
But, at Jimenez’s age, he’s still got as much of a ceiling, if not a higher one than those two prospects.
Robert and Madrigal might not make the instant impacts that the team will hope for right away either which makes the improvement of Eloy Jimenez in his second season uber important for the South Side.