Chicago White Sox: Losing Nick Madrigal is going to hurt down the road
By trading for Craig Kimbrel, the Chicago White Sox got one of the best closers in the game and established a three-headed monster in the back end of the bullpen that can help them win the World Series. His services, however, came at a cost.
The White Sox had to include their former first-round pick Nick Madrigal in a trade package to acquire Kimbrel. Madrigal was an underrated and often underappreciated piece of this White Sox roster that helped balance out the lineup.
Nick Madrigal is not going to help the White Sox win a World Series this year. That was made certain when he went down with a season-ending hamstring injury. But he was a bright part of their future until Rick Hahn had to bite the bullet and ship him across town. It was a necessary move for the White Sox to execute but make no mistake the Cubs got an excellent player in Nick Madrigal. Just ask his former teammates.
"“They got their money’s worth,” Tim Anderson said when asked about his former double-play partner. Anderson knows exactly the type of player the Cubs will be getting. “A guy that’s going to hit. He’s going to hit. He’s going to find a way to get on base. That’s the goal- to get on base, be a hitter, and he does that. He’s a pretty good hitter and he works.”"
Madrigal was more than just a good hitter. He had elite bat-on-ball skills that made him nearly impossible to strike out. In 532 plate appearances in 2019, Madrigal only struck out 16 times. That is only a 3% strikeout rate. His career contact rate is 91.8 which is well above the MLB average. He was affectionately nicknamed “Nicky Two Strikes” for his ability to get hits when he was behind in the count.
Madrigal hit .340 with a .376 OPB in 29 games last season. His .340 average was the highest by any White Sox rookie since 1940. This year he was beginning to find his stroke. In 54 games he was hitting .305 with a .349 OBP and a couple of homers.
The Chicago White Sox are going to miss Nick Madrigal one day in the future.
"“He’s going to be a sparkplug. I can see him fitting in that lineup,” Anderson said. “He really fits anywhere in the lineup. He fit our lineup, and he did great, hit .300. He’s a pretty good hitter, man. A young mature hitter.”"
The sentiment among most White Sox fans is that players like Madrigal are a dime a dozen. This is not the case as Madrigal was a unicorn hitting-wise and is still developing. In today’s game, players hitting for high average are increasingly rare. Out of the players that do make contact, few do it at the rate Madrigal does. He has a special skill that is hard to teach in today’s game.
Madrigal is exactly the type of player that former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen likes. A fast, athletic player that can move runners over and take an extra base. Guillen knows a thing or two about this because he used that formula to help guide the White Sox to the World Series in 2005.
"“This kid brings something to the table that we’re missing in the game,” Guillen said. “Move the guy over, hit behind the runners, doesn’t strike out much, a better hitter with two strikes.”"
Before the season, he told Chuck Garfein of NBC Sports Chicago that his goal was to get 3,000 hits in his career. It is going to be a tough pill to swallow watching him chase that dream in a Cubs uniform. If Craig Kimbrel helps the White Sox win the World Series, it will all be worth it.