White Sox All-Decade Team: Infielders

Something we can all agree on: José Abreu headlines the White Sox All-Decade Team is (@whitesox)



The votes are in! Some were right and some were wrong, but we can all agree that it was not the best decade for the White Sox — and the dreary player selections reflect that.Today, we are only looking at the infield. This is not necessarily the strongest group of players, but at least this where some of the easier top player guesses are. Without further ado, let’s start at catcher.


Catcher — Tyler Flowers

With the tallied votes, 64% of you chose White Sox great A.J. Pierzynski, 32% chose Tyler Flowers, 4% chose Omar Narváez. In reality, A.J. definitely has the name recognition and this probably clouded some guesses, but Tyler Flowers had the best fWAR in the 2010s. Now, let’s be honest here, Flowers’ value did not come with the bat, it was all on the defensive side. He had a total of 8.5 fWAR over his tenure from 2010-15. A.J. was the better hitter, 97 wRC+ compared to Flowers’ 84 WRC+, but games played and the lack of defensive ability hurt Pieryznski’s chances at top backstop of the decade. If this were a singular best catching season of the decade, A.J. would win. In 2012, he had the best fWAR for a Sox catcher since 2010, at 3.3. That was his power-resurgence year, when he hit 27 homers for a .223 ISO. That was his last season with the White Sox, as afterward he signed a one-year, $7.5 million contract with the Rangers and eventually retired after the 2016 season. Meanwhile, the best White Sox catcher of the decade, Flowers, is still playing baseball with the Atlanta Braves and actually has been better since his Chicago departure. As a current White Sox fun update, James McCann’s 2019 season qualifies as the fourth-best fWAR year for a Sox catcher in the 2010s.


First Baseman — José Abreu

This time, you all got it right, José Abreu won the vote in convincing fashion (83% of the vote), and the fWAR was not close. The decade started out with Sox great Paul Konerko (who is on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot) ending his career as Abreu’s began. Over the course of the decade, Abreu had a 17.3 fWAR while Paulie ended with a 5.9. Abreu’s first season of his career was also the best season a first baseman had for the Sox in the 2010s, which resulted in a controversial Rookie of the Year award and an now-overlooked fourth-place finish in MVP voting. Over the course of the decade, Abreu led the the league in OPS+ and slugging percentage in 2014, total bases in 2017, and RBIs in 2019. In every season where Abreu played 140 games or more, he had at least 100 RBIs. He hit over .300 twice and had 30 or more homers thrice, while his career slash line is a fantastic .293/.349/.512 for a 132 wRC+. Since entering the league in 2014, Abreu has the seventh-best fWAR among qualified first baseman and the ninth-best wRC+. If you’re more into the baseball card stats, well, Abreu is fourth in homers and second in RBIs since his rookie season. White Sox history with first baseman generally has been good, and Abreu continued that tradition. They have gone from Frank Thomas to Konerko and then to Abreu, and though Abreu is at least going to stay on the White Sox for the 2020 season, some young guys will hopefully take over and excel soon.


Second Baseman — Gordon Beckham

Yes, you read that correctly: Gordon Beckham had the best fWAR among second basemen in the 2010s for the White Sox. Unsurprisingly, most people were wrong in the voting, as Gordo finishes last. First, let me explain the fWAR tabulation: I took out years where a player did not field the position the majority of the season. So, 2019 Yoán Moncada, 2018 Yolmer Sánchez, and Beckham’s 2015 season did not count, as they all played the majority of the time at third those years. It was a close race, though. Gordo finished with 3.3 fWAR, Moncada 3.2, and Yolmer with 2.8 and yes, those are multiple season’s worth of fWAR, not just a single season. To say second base play for the Sox was atrocious over the past 10 years might be an understatement. The Sox only had two seasons where a second baseman had at least 2.0 fWAR, and none of those reached above 2.2 in a season. In 2017, Sánchez had the best fWAR of the decade, but just to understand how truly awful it has been at second this decade let’s take a look at the rest of the single season Top 5s: Tyler Saladino had the third-best fWAR in a single season at second, while Moncada in his first 54 games in 2017 was fourth, and to round out the top five is Brett Lawrie. BRETT LAWRIE. I told you it was not pretty.


Third Baseman — Yoán Moncada

Third base was just about to be as bad as second, but thanks to a position switch between Yolmer and Moncada, it does look a little better. Yes, one season of fWAR did propel Moncada to the top spot, but at least the winner isn’t Todd Frazier, who finished second. The voters were correct on this one, as Moncada ran away with it after his breakout superstar season in 2019; yes, that season did deserve a Top 10 MVP vote, and he should have received more. Obviously, the season Moncada had was the best of the decade for White Sox third baseman, but there’s some other historical significance. Moncada in 2019 had the fifth-best 3B season in White Sox history. It was also the best offensive season among primary third baseman in terms of wRC+ in White Sox history. In the 2010s, Moncada’s 2019 season ranks 35th in fWAR and 21st in wRC+ among all MLB third baseman. The past was not great for the Sox at third, but the future does sure seem to be bright.


Shortstop — Alexei Ramírez

Shortstop was one of the closer votes, probably because of some recency bias as Tim Anderson won the batting title this past season. However, Alexei Ramírez had a far better decade when looking at fWAR. Maybe some people thought that Ramírez’s value came before the decade, but the two best seasons of his career and among White Sox shortstops in the 2010s was his 2010 and 2011 seasons. From 2010-14, the height of Alexei’s career, he was rated the fourth-best shortstop in MLB by fWAR, only behind Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes, and Hanley Ramírez. From 2010-12, which was the height of Alexei’s defensive prowess, he was the second-best defensive shortstop in baseball using DRS and UZR. Ramírez was never a heavy hitter over his career, which is another reason why some might not remember how good a shortstop he was, but we seem to have the opposite now in Anderson. Defense is clearly the skill that Anderson lacks, but his bat still led to him having an fWAR of better than 3.0 in the 2019 season. With Anderson and Moncada, it seems like the future is bright heading into the 2020s for the left side of the infield.


Next up … The outfield and DH!

The Sox signed somebody! Welcome, Yasmani Grandal!

BOOM goes the offseason: The White Sox got free agency off to a stirring start by snatching No. 1 target Yasmani Grandal. (@MLB)


They did it; they actually signed a known good player!

The White Sox signed Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal. That is the biggest contract given out by the team in franchise history (maybe not, when taking into consideration inflation — but somebody smarter can calculate that). Grandal will start at catcher, with James McCann as a very capable backup.

Since 2015, Grandal has been one of the best catchers in baseball. Among catchers in that time span, he has the most fWAR (24.9) and the second-best wRC+ (117) only behind Yankees slugger Gary Sanchez. In using FanGraphs’ framing metric, Grandal is the best in baseball, while old pal Tyler Flowers is second.

In short, Grandal has been and expects to be an elite offensive and defensive catcher for the White Sox in the 2020 season and beyond.

The impact Grandal will have going forward is great not only for the lineup, but with the young starting rotation and bullpen. As long as there is not an automated strike zone, framing will continue to be important. Grandal’s abilities behind the plate should help Lucas Giolito continue to improve and Reynaldo López rediscover his 2018 season/highly-touted prospect status. Grandal should also help the younger pitchers without much MLB experience like Michael Kopech reach their potential more quickly than Giolito and Lopez. Basically, the pitching side should benefit greatly from this signing.

This signing also has some roster ramifications. Daniel Palka was DFA’ed, and it would not be surprising if he was picked up by another team in the beginning stages of a rebuild.

Right now, the Sox have five catchers on the 40-man roster (Grandal, McCann, Seby Zavala, Zack Collins, and Yermín Mercedes). Last season, it appeared Zack Collins got a cup of coffee on the South Side partly because the organization wanted him to learn first base. This move could mean a more permanent move to first for Collins, or it can also signal that he is now trade bait to help fill other holes. Having good depth at catcher is nothing to sneeze at and Sox fans should be very aware of this by now, but let’s be honest, Collins and Mercedes are below-average at best as defensive catchers and are huge downgrades compared to Grandal. So, position changes for good-bat, weak-glove catchers would not be the end of the world.

Now, because the Sox also do not have that many impact bats (hopefully they will soon), having a kind of third catcher like Zavala, Collins, or Mercedes could come into play as MLB institutes a 26-man active roster in 2020. Multiple times last season McCann was in the lineup as a DH, and that could be his “starting” position if the Sox do not add another bat and one of Collins, Zavala, or Mercedes are the third-string catcher and backup DH.

Collins, for his part, was excited to welcome Grandal aboard, telling SSHP’s Clint Cole, “I already spoke to [Grandal] … obviously we are pretty excited. I’ve been working out with him since I was 15 or 16. It should be awesome for us. He just told me to get ready to work, so it should be fun.”

It is November, the season is still far away, and the ramifications of this deal are still not yet realized. But it is fun to speculate, because the Sox actually signed a good player.

Now, go sign more.

The best White Sox games of 2019

Delightful drenching: His first White Sox home run was going to be magical no matter what, but Eloy Jiménez hitting two in the rain to down the Yankees was extra special. (@ChicagoSports)


We started to get into on Monday, when LennyG opened our bests and worsts with a delightful dip into both flavors.

So here, in chronological order, are the rest of our best.


April 12: White Sox 9, Yankees 6 (rain-shortened to seven innings)

The game of the year happened back in April. It was before Lucas Giolito was good, James McCann really got on his run, and Sox fans wanted Yonder Alonso to pack his bags and never return. It was in New York, when Sox fans already had lost any hope, but Eloy Jiménez gave us something to look forward to. In the rain-shortened game, Eloy hit his first two home runs at Yankee Stadium. The first, a two-run shot to straightaway center, gave the Sox the lead as the rain was already coming down pretty hard. Eloy was not done yet, though. In what ended up being the last inning of the game (the seventh), he clobbered a baseball to left field to put the Sox up two and salting away the game. It was a night that no Sox fan should forget. The top prospect coming up and hitting his first two home runs in Yankee Stadium is no small feat.

This game had some other significance though: McCann also hit the first home run of his All-Star season. And Giolito soon would start his amazing run of starts; after his performance here in New York, he didn’t allow four runs or more in a game until June 19. It was also Nate Jones’ lone save of the year, and possibly the last one of his career. So as Jones and Alonso had their last gasps, Eloy, Giolito, and McCann took this game in stride for the rest of the way. (Darren Black)

April 17: Royals 4, White Sox 3 

Although the South Siders lost the game, the spark that came from Tim Anderson’s notorious bat flip was a monumental victory. After he crushed a 3-2 pitch to left field, TA7 gave the White Sox an early 2-0 home lead in the fourth inning against the Royals. However, Brad Keller — who threw that fateful pitch — went on to hit Anderson in his next at-bat. As a result, the benches cleared; unexpectedly, TA was ejected from the game, as a bystander to the brawl. The consequence of the one-game suspension that followed the ejection? The initiation of the “Let the Kids Play” movement, where Tim was supported by *most* of MLB. This bat flip created an unexplainable energy for the Sox, Tim coined STICK TALK, and the bat flips never stopped coming. Here’s to many more! (Ashley Sanders)

April 26: White Sox 12, Tigers 11

Things were looking grim for the White Sox, as they fell into a large deficit early on. The Tigers teed off on White Sox starter Carlos Rodón, who allowed eight runs (all earned) in only three-plus innings. When Rodón departed, the White Sox trailed 8-1, with no outs in the top of the fourth. After a solo homer by Jacoby Jones, the Tigers led 9-2 in the fifth, and the White Sox had a 2% win probability. But the White Sox clawed their way back into it by scoring two in the fifth and five in the sixth to reduce the deficit to 9-8. The White Sox took their first lead of the game on a bizarre two-run single by José Abreu, which would have been a three-run homer if Abreu did not pass Tim Anderson on the basepath. After the Tigers rallied to tie it back up 11-11, the White Sox finally prevailed in the bottom of the ninth in dramatic fashion. Anderson, the center of attention after his bat flip incident the previous week, wrapped it up with a walk-off home run. (Joe Resis)

May 23: White Sox 4, Astros 0

Two words: Lucas Giolito. This four-hit gem cemented Giolito’s Player of the Month Award for May and, arguably more importantly, undying love from certain Sox fans (ahem). It capped off a four-game streak in which Gio gave up a total of 14 hits and two runs. That he did it against a Houston team that was 33-18 at the time was extra gratifying. And all of the other players we hope to be showing our undying love for in the future provided the offense: Yoán with an RBI double, TA with an RBI single, and Eloy with a home run. What more could a Bitmoji — er, fan base — ask for? This wasn’t a fluke Charlie Tilson grand slam-win (which, while also extremely fun in the moment, does nothing to provide hope for the future). When we think about 2020 and beyond, this game will be our template. (Lurker Laura)

June 14: White Sox 10, Yankees 2

Decimation of the Yankees! We Sox fans may hate That Other Team in Town and have an unfavorite among division rivals, but everybody hates the Yankees, and on this magic day, the Sox crushed the Bronx Bombasts, 10-2. Lucas Giolito won his ninth straight, giving up one run in six innings. Eloy Jiménez had a career day, with two — count ’em, two — three-run homers. Amazingly, the Sox walked four times (normally the norm for a fortnight) and struck out only five (damn near the norm for an inning). The win lifted the White Sox record to 34-34, the first time at the magic .500 mark since the blizzards of early April. And did I mention it was against the Damn Yankees? (Leigh Allan)

July 3: White Sox 9, Tigers 6 (12 innings)

My favorite White Sox game in 2019 was on July 3, in the second game of a doubleheader vs. Detroit. It was the Yoán Moncada game, but there were other notable, fun things about it too. Ryan Cordell had the best game he will ever have in major league baseball. (I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m confident that he won’t top two dingers, and two great catches in center field, but who knows? I’ve been wrong before.) And José Abreu had an awesome, walk-off three-run dinger to end the game. But make no mistake, this is the game where Yoyo arrived. One of Moncada’s positive developments in 2019 was his improvement as a right-handed hitter, and in the first inning, he hit one of his most impressive home runs from that side of the plate that I’ve seen. He also tied the game with a sac fly in the bottom of the seventh. Then in the bottom of the ninth, Yoán entered the pantheon of Impressive Homers I’ve Seen in Person with an absolute blast to right center to tie the game.

Now, I saw Frank Thomas hit one over all the seats in left-center, one-hopping into the men’s room off of Johan Santana in 2003. I saw prime-roids Barry Bonds hit a ball out of the atmosphere, that reentered with icicles, that landed on the concourse in center in the early 2000s. But Yoyo’s ninth-inning blast was right there with ’em. Also, to put a cherry on top, in the top of the 10th, John Hicks untied a 5-5 game with a single to left. Eloy made a bad throw to the infield, and Yoyo made a ridiculous cutoff and throw to third to stop the bleeding and end the inning. It was a heads-up, athletic play, and it set the stage for José to be the walk-off hero. Fun game! (Guitar Sox)

August 21: White Sox 4, Twins 0

Everyone can agree that 2018 was a rough year for Lucas Giolito, so I’m not going to bother rehashing the worst-to-ace transition and his new set of award nods. Rewind a couple of months from here, Giolito threw a set of compete games in May and then progressively showcased the reasons why the Nationals drafted him immediately out of high school. There’s always those naysayers, though, and the moment he faltered just a little bit, the cries of “OH NO, 2018 GIOLITO! HE BLOWS IT UNDER PRESSURE” returned. This last complete game in Minnesota effectively silenced it. The White Sox were long out of the possibility of a Wild Card as they limped towards season’s end, but no one told Giolito. He came out and killed it — throwing his final complete game of 2019 against the AL Central leaders. Did Minnesota figure him out a little, in time for his next start? Yes — it’s called scouting reports. But that final complete game gave a good hard look at what we should see for years to come from Giolito and (hopefully) the pair of Giolito and McCann. (ColleenS)

September 5: White Sox 7, Cleveland 1

ReyLo’s one-hit wonder was easily my favorite game to watch. López pitched a complete game one-hitter, Danny Mendick got his first big league hit, Welington Castillo didn’t strike out once, and even Yolmer got a hit. The team looked like a real, grown-up, professional baseball team, and by not needing the bullpen, there was no opportunity for some crappy reliever to blow the game. The White Sox executed a perfect bunt, moved runners along instead of their usual M.O. of stranding them at second and third, beat up on a division rival and ACTUALLY WON A GAME. More like this, please. (LWilz)


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Weigh in on the best White Sox of the decade

Not only is the 2019 season officially over after the Washington Nationals won the World Series, but so is this baseball decade. Some of you probably do not remember most of the players for the White Sox in the 2010s (I mean, who can blame you, though), but some rose above the rest.

This thought exercise is inspired by a relatively recent Effectively Wild podcast from FanGraphs with hosts Meg Rowley (FanGraphs managing editor), Ben Lindbergh (writer at The Ringer and author), and Sam Miller (writer at ESPN). They guessed the top five hitters and pitchers of this decade in terms of fWAR, and then checked to see if their guesses were correct. Now, since South Side Hit Pen is of course a White Sox site, we are going to come at this with a Sox angle. We will be creating our own White Sox lineup of the decade (2010-19).

Now, I have to warn you, it is not pretty, and the White Sox record over the decade should tell you why.

The Sox as a team only had two winning records, in 2010 and 2012. Their overall record was 743-876. They never went to the playoffs, obviously, the first time the Sox missed the playoffs for an entire decade since the 1970s. The Sox only had 13 different players selected to the All-Star game (Chris Sale’s multiple selections only count as one), seven hitters and six pitchers.

The big theme of the decade, maybe besides mediocrity and then the rebuild, was honoring White Sox past. The Sox had eight former employees get into the Hall of Fame: Robert Alomar (2011), Ron Santo (2012), Frank Thomas (2014), Tony La Russa (2014), Ken Griffey Jr. (2016), Tim Raines (2017), Frank Thomas (2018), and Harold Baines (2019). A great group of guys, but most from a distant White Sox past. The organization retired a few numbers to help boost some meager attendance as well. Thomas (No. 35, 2010), Paul Konerko (No. 14, 2015), and Mark Buerhle (No. 56, 2017). Again, those honors don’t just remind fans of how successful the distant past was, but how utterly bad the recent past is. So, as you will see, this is not a great group of players to choose from for an All-Decade lineup.

I implore you all to try and create a lineup yourself before looking at the polls. When I did this, I found that I couldn’t even remember a lot of players from 2010-13, even some of the better ones. But if not, or when you are done, choose which player(s) you think had the highest fWAR for the White Sox at each position in the polls below.


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Flores only gets two outs in Desert Dogs 10-3 loss

Nice start for a closer: Tyler Johnson hopes to put his injury woes behind him with a strong AFL season. (@BhamBarons)

Blake Rutherford: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K (.167 BA, .536 OPS)
Bernardo Flores: 2/3 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (54.00 ERA)
Tyler Johnson: 1 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (0.00 ERA)

Flores was hurt in the middle of the season and missed an opportunity to reach Triple-A and possibly Chicago, so he is here in Arizona making up some lost innings. Unfortunately, he didn’t get through one. He allowed four runs while recording just two outs in his first game action in the AFL.

Flores may not be off to a good start, but another injured player, Tyler Johnson, is.

Johnson went 1 1/3 innings of shutout baseball. He did allow two runners on, with a hit and a walk, but he worked through both of them. Only one White Sox hitter got the start today, with Blake Rutherford out in left. He only got one hit in four tries, but it was an RBI double. He came around to score after that double.

Since Flores got off to such a tough start, the Desert Dogs were never able to come back. Glendale looks overmatched early on, as they start the AFL 0-2.

Micker Adolfo homers in AFL opener

Big bop: Micker makes the most of his Fall debut. (@whitesox)


Gavin Sheets: 0-for-4, 0 BB, 2 K (.000 BA, .000 OPS)
Blake Rutherford: 0-for-3, 1 BB, 2 K (.000 BA, .000 OPS)
Micker Adolfo: 1-for-3, 1 HR, 0 BB, 2 K (.333 BA, 1.666 OPS)
Vince Arobio: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K (18.00 ERA, 4.00 WHIP)
Bennett Sousa: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP)

It was a White Sox day for the opening of the AFL season for the Desert Dogs. It was not a winning effort, nor were the Sox players that good, but quite a few of them received game action.

Glendale lost the game, 4-2, so obviously the bats didn’t do much. Gavin Sheets, Blake Rutherford, and Micker Adolfo all got in the game tonight. Sheets and Rutherford both went hitless and combined for four strikeouts. Rutherford at least got on base with a walk. Micker Adolfo was responsible for Glendale’s first run of the game in the eighth inning, already down 4-0. He launched a solo homer to left center field. Adolfo was the DH today, so he still is not playing the field.

Two Sox pitchers got game action, one was much better than the other. Vince Arobio went in first, in the seventh inning. He got hit, and hit hard, as he allowed two runs in the inning, including a home run. Bennett Sousa came into the eighth and worked a perfect inning. He struck out one over that span, but it was a good start to his AFL campaign. Minor league baseball is back!

Sox can’t capitalize on early 2-0 lead in loss to Twins

Another day: Another tough game. (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)


Hey! A quick start by the White Sox, and they were on to an early 2-0 lead against the Minnesota Twins. In the first inning, after a single and a double from Leury García and Yoán Moncada opened up the game, the AL RBI leader José Abreu came up to the plate. He did what he has done all year, drive in runs — no matter what or how.

Yeah, Moncada probably should have stayed at second, but being aggressive is what the White Sox should be these last two weeks of baseball. Abreu extended his lead in RBI to 118. In the next inning Reynaldo López got through a little trouble (though it was not all on him due to an error from Yolmer Sánchez), but it was a sign of things to come. James McCann hit his 17th home run of the season, and his fourth off of Berríos, in the second inning.

Just like that the Sox were up by two, but remember when López wasn’t all that great in the first inning? Well, he was worse in the second, allowing two runs in the second to tie the game. He allowed four singles in the inning, and was just not missing any bats until the last pitch of the inning. In fact, López was only able to induce six swing-and-misses throughout the game. The slider led the way but the fastball only got one — and that usually means a bad day at the office for López.

For a while, the Sox didn’t do anything offensively, as Berríos looked great. It was not until the ninth when the Sox got back on the board but meanwhile, the Twins took the lead and added to it. López left with five runs allowed in what was another dud of a start, but in fairness two runs scored on a very weird single.

López only struck out two batters the entire game and allowed 11 to reach base. He was not as bad as his previous start, but López’s season has come with so much frustration.

The bullpen, surprisingly, did very well. Jace Fry came in and allowed the last hit for the Twins but finished out the sixth inning. Jimmy Cordero replaced him and continues to look fantastic. His change looked very good and the sinker had some giddyup. Kelvin Herrera ended the game for Sox pitchers, and it was one of his few good appearances of the year as he struck out two in the eighth. Herrera now had a 6.75 ERA on the year, as he’s probably playing for a 2020 roster spot down the stretch.

The game did end on a high note, though! Eloy Jiménez, who is leading AL rookies in homers, cranked his 28th of the season in the ninth off Sergio Romo.

At this point of the season, it is more important for a few players to do well instead of the team — or at least maybe we just tell ourselves that. Eloy hit a homer, Moncada had two hits, Abreu got another RBI, and McCann hit a homer, too.

So even if the team isn’t good, some guys did well! — White Sox baseball 2019.

Gamethread: White Sox at Twins

@whitesox photo credit

Jekyll and Hyde are back… I mean, Reynaldo Lopez is on the bump for the Sox in Minnesota. Here are the Game Scores (FanGraphs) for the last four starts for Lopez: 14, 96, 14, and 74. So, it’s either really good, or worse than atrocious which pretty much sums up his season. Unfortunately, it does not look like a premier start is on the horizon.

Lopez has started two games against the Twins this season and has been awful. He has a 36 Game Score which did end up being a quality start because of errors. He also has a Game Score of 7 when he allowed 8 runs and three homers in just 3 2/3 innings back in May. Both of these games were at Minnesota like this one tonight, so I’m not really expecting a great performance by Sox pitching.

On the other side is Jose Berrios, an actual good pitcher. In 181 innings this season, he has a 3.63 ERA which would be a career best mark. He is not striking out as many people but his walks have also decreased and that combination seems to be working. Overall he has done fine against the White Sox but James McCann, Eloy Jimenez, and Jose Abreu have done well against him. McCann has three homes in just 21 at-bats against Berrios and Abreu has a .758 OPS. In Eloy’s first season, he has four hits including a homer in ten tries so the middle of the lineup does like seeing Berrios at least.

Also a special on this date courtesy of Jim Thome:

Statistics check:
Tim Anderson (.332) still leads the AL in batting average over DJ LeMahieu (.328).
Jose Abreu (117) still leads the AL in RBI over Jorge Soler (108).
Yoan Moncada (5.0) moved into 9th place for single-season fWAR by a White Sox 3rd baseman. He also moved into second with wRC+ (137) with the same parameters.
Since 1969, Lucas Giolito has the third most strikeouts (228) and second best K/9 (11.62) in a single season among White Sox starters.

Lineups:

2019 Charlotte Knights season recap

Boom town: It was a successful season, with an explosive ending, in Charlotte. (Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights)


The Knights were overall a much better team than last season, as their hitters took full advantage of the MLB ball in Triple-A. It took until the final day for the Knights to be eliminated from playoff contention, in a 75-64 season.

The International League saw 2,440 home runs this season, compared to 1,555 last year, an 885 home run difference. The Knights went from hitting 103 homers and allowing 113 in 2018 to hitting 208 and allowing 203 in 2019. This really made some hitters look fantastic all across Triple-A, but it honestly did ruin some pitchers as well. Unfortunately, some of those pitchers were on the Sox.

Since the Knights were basically the White Sox bench, I am going to stick with evaluating strictly prospects, so sorry to players like Aaron Bummer, Evan Marshall, and basically the entire Knights outfield that started in Charlotte. Also, if any players started with the Sox and were sent down, sorry, but you also miss the cut.


Started the year with the Knights

A few players started the year with the Knights but did not play that much due to injury, or in one case, a trade. Spencer Adams and Ian Hamilton both had lost seasons due to injury, and seemed to be affected by the new baseball. Adams only threw 18 innings before leaving for the season, and they weren’t good. He lost his starting spot and he pushed himself out of any prospect hype. Hamilton had just an awful year on and off the mound. He missed the beginning of the season due to a car crash. He was not very good when he was on the mound for Charlotte, and then got hurt again off the mound (hit in the face from a foul ball in the dugout, Hamilton required surgery for multiple facial fractures). Jordan Stephens was not good, got hurt, and the Sox just cut him loose, leaving Cleveland to scoop him up off of waivers. Yeah, not great for these three former top prospects.

There was positive movement for Knights prospects as well. Chief among them is Dylan Cease, though his same struggles that have been blatant in MLB were also there in Triple-A. Cease had trouble in the first inning, and usually had one big-run inning, before settling down. He only pitched 68 1/3 innings with a 4.48 ERA, but his stuff is so good that people should believe he will be better next season. Carson Fulmer can be considered in this category still, but I won’t waste much time on him. Fulmer clearly was better this season than any of his other: His strikeout rate was higher and his pitches moved more and faster, but the results aren’t there. Sadly, 2020 might be a last gasp for the former first round pick to make an MLB team (until the Houston Astros or Los Angeles Dodgers get him and turn him into an ace or a high-leverage arm in the bullpen, like they’ll do with Dylan Covey).

Zach Thompson, a reliever, also started the year with the Knights, but he also had a weird cameo in Birmingham, in my opinion, it was for no reason. Thompson struggled mightily in Charlotte, along with multiple other young arms. He had a 5.50 ERA. How? Although his strikeout and walk numbers were fine, Thompson allowed 1.92 HR/9. He is also on the older side and wasn’t selected in the Rule 5 draft last offseason, so the prospect chops on Thompson are probably off.

It was a bit better on the hitting side. There were no season-ending injuries of note, but also not a lot of prospect promotion until September call-ups. Catchers Zack Collins and Seby Zavala both earned promotions before September, but did not inspire while in Chicago. Collins was much better in Triple-A after he was demoted. He finished the MiLB year with a 170 wRC+ with a 16.1% BB-rate and just a 19.9% K-rate, which is fantastic for him. He showed his normal pop and that bump at the end of the season in Charlotte was why he found his way back to the majors in September. Collins has not been overwhelmingly good but his approach is much better. He still needs to swing more often, but that should be work done in the offseason. Zavala had a down year on all counts, and was not even called up for September. His power was good, but the bat-to-ball skills were not as impressive and his K-rate skyrocketed. He could still be in the mix as a catcher for the future, but his prospect shine has definitely decreased. What is saving him is defense, which Collins sorely lacks behind the dish. But with an automated strike zone seemingly on the way, how much will framing matter in the future?

Danny Mendick was one of the rare players on Charlotte who stayed the entire season. Weirdly enough, the MLB ball did not really have a great affect on the utility infielder. His ISO only rose from .148 in 2018 to .166 in 2019, but he put together a solid, not great, season for the Knights nonetheless. Mendick’s batting average rose significantly compared to last season, jumping by 32 points while his plate discipline was still great. The K-rate barely rose, about .2% to just 17.2%, which is a good rate for a contact hitter. Mendick’s walk rate also rose, this time about 1% to 11.8%, which is good especially because it rose from his Double-A rates. Mendick probably does not have the hitting and defensive potential to be an everyday MLB starter, which may be why he stayed in Charlotte the entire season when older players like Ryan Goins got promotions instead of him. Nevertheless, Mendick has had some success with the Sox since his September promotion. It seems to be down to him or Yolmer Sánchez for the 2020 backup infield position.


The Promoted Players

This is where the fun begins, as Anakin Skywalker would say. The prospects who were promoted to Charlotte are far and away the best of the bunch, as well as a couple notable lower prospects as well. But let’s start with the best of them, Luis Robert.

Robert is an elite talent and has prospect rankings that show it. He is the No. 3 overall prospect from Baseball America, 19th on FanGraphs, and fifth on MLB Pipeline. Across all three levels, Robert slashed .328/.376/.624 with 32 home runs and 36 stolen bases. He showed just about every single tool a player could; he even had seven outfield assists from center field and played a part in two double plays, and we have all seen videos like the one below of him flying and diving for a catch.

While we all know Robert’s strengths, and the videos and stats confirm how great he is, he does have things to work on. The ability to walk has become very important to White Sox fans lately, and it does not seem like Robert will help that much. He walked in about 5% of his plate appearances and had a K-rate around 23%. That plate discipline isn’t great, but he really wasn’t challenged much in MiLB so his approach could change. If it does not, he could be in for a very slow start for his MLB career.

The other top guy to be promoted was 2018 first round selection Nick Madrigal. Like Robert he also had two promotions this season, and slashed .311/.377/.414 among the three levels. Madrigal didn’t show much power, but he did at least hit homers this season — four in total, but power will never be a part of his game. Madrigal is a slappy hitter who does have the ability to drive the ball into the gaps. That’s why he had 27 doubles and five triples this year, but BABIP will be an important indicator of his success at the plate. Madrigal also had 35 stolen bases in 2019. But the real calling card for Madrigal is his defense, and for a team that generally doesn’t have very good infield defense, his fielding ability is important. Errors aren’t everything, especially in the infield, but Madrigal only committed four in 932 1/3 innings at second base. Outlets like MLB Pipeline have also surmised that he could be a Gold Glove second baseman once he arrives in Chicago.

The other three promoted players of note are led by fan favorite Yermín Mercedes. The MLB ball certainly agreed with his bat, as Mercedes’ ISO from Double-A at .170 rose to .337 in Triple-A. He hit better than .300 at both levels and also had a BB-rate of more than 10% as well. Mercedes strikes out at a good rate, but good things always seemed to happen when he got the barrel of the bat on the ball. His hit tool seems to be undeniable at this point, but Mercedes has no position. He has been placed at catcher for most of his career, but is not a very good one. He is not athletic enough to move to other positions, and probably is not tall enough to be a first baseman. Mercedes did not get the call for more at-bats in Chicago this season, so the organization does not seem too keen on his abilities, but his bat does seem to be legit. He just needs a chance to show he belongs on a roster somewhere.

The other two are both relievers, Matt Foster and Hunter Schryver. Foster started in Birmingham and left fairly quickly, after 9 2/3 shutout innings. With the Knights, the MLB ball did seem to take a toll on Foster because of a professional high of 1.47 HR/9, but he still had a 3.76 ERA. Foster has a mid- to high-90s fastball, and did have good strikeout numbers (27.7%) and a fine walk rate (8.5%). Schyver also started in Birmingham, and stayed a bit longer. The ball seemed to really affect him. With the Barons, Schyver went from a 2.77 ERA in Birmingham with .37 HR/9 and an 8.5% BB-rate. In his 13 1/3 innings, his walk rate rose to 17.4%, the HR/9 went up to 1.32, and he had an 8.56 ERA. It was a disaster, but the lefty is still somebody to watch; he just needs to get used to the new ball.


Triple-A has become a more important stepping-stone MiLB level because of the different baseball. It made a lot of pitchers worse, and made some hitters look fantastic. It is still too early to decide what improvements or bad performances are simply due to the ball, but the Knights did take enough of an advantage to be in a playoff hunt until the last day. And hey, Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal looked great while on the cusp of the majors, which is probably the best takeaway of the season.

White Sox Minor League Monthly Update: August/September

Reversal of fortune: Zack Collins headed down to Charlotte and mashed his way back up to Chicago. (Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights)


Charlotte Knights

Seby Zavala: .235 BA, 4 HR, 8 XBH, 9 R, 9 RBI, 8 BB, 20 K, 1 SB
Zack Collins: .310 BA, 10 HR, 14 XBH, 17 R, 22 RBI, 18 BB, 23 K **MVP of August**
Luis Robert: .264 BA, 10 HR, 18 XBH, 22 R, 24 RBI, 5 BB, 39 K, 2 SB
Yermín Mercedes: .317 BA, 7 HR, 13 XBH, 17 R, 18 RBI, 17 BB, 15 K
Nick Madrigal: .331 BA, 1 HR, 8 XBH, 26 R, 12 RBI, 13 BB, 5 K, 4 SB
Danny Mendick: .294 BA, 3 HR, 9 XBH, 13 R, 10 RBI, 13 BB, 22 K, 1 SB
Matt Foster: 14 IP, 5.20 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 5.14 BB/9
Hunter Schryver: 9 1/3 IP, 7.48 FIP, 12.54 K/9, 10.61 BB/9


Birmingham Barons

Gavin Sheets: .240 BA, 3 HR, 9 XBH, 9 R, 15 RBI, 14 BB, 21 K
Luis González: .260 BA, 2 HR, 7 XBH, 17 R, 10 RBI, 15 BB, 18 K, 7 SB
Luis Basabe: .244 BA, 1 HR, 7 XBH, 12 R, 10 RBI, 11 BB, 38 K, 2 SB
Blake Rutherford: .315 BA, 7 XBH, 12 R, 12 RBI, 17 BB, 20 K, 2 SB
Alec Hansen: 12 1/3 IP, 5.33 FIP, 8.76 K/9, 8.03 BB/9
Tyler Johnson: 14 1/3 IP, 4.14 FIP, 11.3 K/9, 1.88 BB/9
Codi Heuer: 12 1/3 IP, 2.41 FIP, 7.3 K/9, 2.19 BB/9
Kodi Medeiros: 14 1/3 IP, 5.18 FIP, 5.02 K/9, 5.02 BB/9
Blake Battenfield: 28 1/3 IP, 5.31 FIP, 6.67 K/9, 1.91 BB/9
Bernardo Flores: 28 IP, 3.33 FIP, 10.61 K/9, 1.61 BB/9
John Parke: 34 1/3 IP, 4.35 FIP, 3.93 K/9, 2.36 BB/9 **MVP of August**

Read the 2019 season recap.


Winston-Salem-Birmingham Shuttle

Bennett Sousa
Winston-Salem: 11 2/3 IP, 0.81 FIP, 13.89 K/9, 1.54 BB/9
Birmingham: 2 2/3 IP, 2.17 FIP, 10.13 K/9, 3.38 BB/9


Winston-Salem Dash

Steele Walker: .274 BA, 3 HR, 12 XBH, 20 R, 12 RBI, 14 BB, 16 K, 4 SB
Andrew Vaughn: .248 BA, 2 HR, 10 XBH, 15 R, 18 RBI, 15 BB, 17 K
Andrew Perez: 14 1/3 IP, 2.82 FIP, 10.05 K/9, 5.02 BB/9
Jacob Lindgren: 14 2/3 IP, 2.97 FIP, 9.2 K/9, 2.45 BB/9
Jonathan Stiever: 26 IP, 3.57 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 1.73 BB/9 **MVP of August**
Kade McClure: 10 IP, 9.08 FIP, 7.2 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
Konnor Pilkington: 31 IP, 3.12 FIP, 9.29 K/9, 2.61 BB/9

Read the 2019 season recap.


Kannapolis Intimidators

Ian Dawkins: .264 BA, 1 HR, 9 XBH, 15 R, 4 RBI, 14 BB, 24 K, 2 SB
Lenyn Sosa: .310 BA, 3 HR, 12 XBH, 18 R, 16 RBI, 8 BB, 23 K, 1 SB
Davis Martin: 31 IP, 2.42 FIP, 9.58 K/9, 2.32 BB/9 **MVP of August**
Jason Bilous: 27 IP, 5.45 FIP, 10.33 K/9, 6.33 B/9

Read the 2019 season recap.


Rookie League-Kannapolis Shuttle

Caleb Freeman
AZL: 4 IP, 0.77 FIP, 15.75 K/9, 0.0 BB/9
Great Falls: 6 2/3 IP, 0.90 FIP, 16.2 K/9, 1.35 BB/9
Kannapolis: 4 1/3 IP, 6.26 FIP, 10.38 K/9, 4.15 BB.9


Great Falls Voyagers

Harvin Mendoza: .207 BA, 1 HR, 9 XBH, 10 R, 8 RBI, 10 BB, 22 K
Caberea Weaver: .284 BA, 1 HR, 11 XBH, 14 R, 9 RBI, 6 BB, 31 K, 5 SB
Lency Delgado: .230 BA, 4 XBH, 8 R, 8 RBI, 2 BB, 42 K
Luis Mieses: .190 BA, 5 XBH, 7 R, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 19 K
Karan Patel: 10 2/3 IP, 3.02 FIP, 10.12 K/9, 0.0 BB/9
Avery Weems: 21 IP, 3.01 FIP, 10.71 K/9, 1.29 BB/9 **MVP of August**
Dan Metzdorf: 15 IP, 2.85 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 1.8 BB/9


AZL White Sox

DJ Gladney: .170 BA, 5 R, 4 RBI, 5 BB, 22 K
José Rodriguez: .279 BA, 3 HR, 6 XBH, 10 R, 12 RBI, 3 BB, 16 K, 3 SB **MVP of August**
Logan Glass: .333 BA, 1 HR, 4 XBH, 7 R, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 13 K
Micker Adolfo: .260 BA, 2 HR, 8 R, 3 RBI, 7 BB, 21 K
Matthew Thompson: 2 IP, 2.27 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 0.0 BB/9
Andrew Dalquist: 3 IP, 4.94 FIP, 6.0 K/9, 6.0 BB/9

Read the 2019 season recap.


DSL White Sox

Yolbert Sánchez: .309 BA, 1 HR, 5 XBH, 7 R, 4 RBI, 11 BB, 6 K, 2 SB
Benyamin Bailey: .250 BA, 1 HR, 6 XBH, 9 R, 5 RBI, 8 BB, 10 K
Johnabiell Laureano: .346 BA, 3 HR, 7 XBH, 13 R, 9 RBI, 7 BB, 11 K, 1 SB **MVP of August**
Ronaldo Guzman: 10 2/3 IP, 4.48 FIP, 13.5 K/9, 4.22 B/9

Read the 2019 season recap.