The Chicago White Sox had a lot of unexpected players step up big in 2021. A few of them were rookies that made a big impact. Of course, when that happens, you want to see them be involved in Rookie of the Year conversations but that wasn’t the case by the time the year ended. The final ballot came out and it didn’t feature a single White Sox rookie.
Michael Kopech was considered a rookie and he was outstanding. However, he was eased into the year, after all, that time off so it is no surprise that he wasn’t considered. However, there were a couple of hitters that deserved recognition.
Gavin Sheets came out of nowhere to be an impressive power hitter in the MLB. He started the year in AAA where he couldn’t stop hitting home runs if he wanted to. He came to the MLB and continued displaying his power which earned him a spot on the playoff roster. He then went on to be the best hitter on the team during their series against the Houston Astros.
For his regular season, Sheets slashed .250/.324/.506 for an OPS of .830. That slugging percentage is outstanding and scary to think about when you are reminded that he was a rookie. He hit 11 home runs and had 34 RBIs and 23 runs scored. All of this came in only 179 plate appearances which is wildly impressive. If he can carve out some more at-bats in 2022, these numbers could get even better.
It might not seem like it because the power wasn’t as frequent, but Andrew Vaughn was just as good. His .235/.309/.396 slash line (.705 OPS) isn’t as good but he had about quadruple the plate appearances as Sheets. There was time for opposing pitchers to change the way they attack him throughout the season. He had 15 home runs with 48 RBIs and 56 runs scored.
Those numbers are impressive when you think about a few variables. Unlike Sheets, Vaughn had very little playing time in Minor League Baseball thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was the third overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft for a reason. This kid is going to be a very good hitter for the White Sox for a long time and he showed many flashes of it in 2021.
The Chicago White Sox loved what they saw from their young players in 2021.
It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day but it would have been nice to see the White Sox get recognized at least a little bit here. Randy Arozarena of the Tampa Bay Rays won the award by a large margin. Luis Garcia of the Houston Astros came in second and Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays came in third.
All of these guys are well deserving of this recognition. That also includes the players who received votes but weren’t mentioned and all the snubs across the league. There is no doubt that the sport of baseball is in a good spot with its young talent. It is good to know that the White Sox has plenty of it.