Now Dallas is in Chicago

Rotation, fortified: The White Sox added a solid No. 2, and a southpaw to boot, in Dallas Keuchel. (@KidKeuchy)


Per Jeff Passan and other sources, Dallas Keuchel and the Chicago White Sox have reached an agreement on a three-year, $55.5 million deal with a vesting fourth year option that could take the contract to $74 million.

Keuchel started 19 games with the Braves in 2019, going 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 112 ⅔ innings. Keuchel is a left-handed sinkerballer who gets tons of ground balls, which will serve him well in the homer-friendly G-Spot. DK should immediately step in to the No. 2 slot of the Sox rotation, and is a nice contrast to the rotation’s right-handed power pitchers Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Reynaldo López.

What the addition means for the 2020 White Sox

The Sox now have a couple things that they haven’t had on their pitching staff in a long time: depth and flexibility. Keuchel is steady if unspectacular at this point in his career. He’s not the Cy Young winner he was for the Astros in 2015, but he’s still good. He will keep you in games and eat innings for you, and that’s something the Sox sorely need.

Barring injury setbacks to some of the guys coming back from Tommy John, the Sox will have a good amount of depth and flexibility on their pitching staff. Maybe the Sox decide Michael Kopech or López would be best served pitching in the back end of their bullpen in 2020. Considering relief pitching market isn’t strong right now, those are the exact type of internal options a team with aspirations to compete would need. When the inevitable injury bug bites the Sox in 2020, and it will, they have actual major league pitching options to fill in. There shouldn’t be any more time for the Dylan Coveys, Odrisamer Despaignes, Ross Detwilers, or Hector Santiagos of the world.

Keuchel is the fourth big addition the White Sox have made, after Yasmani Grandal, Gio González and Nomar Mazara. If the Sox can add another right-handed bat (think Edwin Encarnacion, Marcell Ozuna, or Nicholas Castellanos), count on continued development from their young players, and add a bullpen piece or two, they can realistically compete for a playoff spot next year.

So sit back, relax, and strap it down: 2020 is going to be a wild ride!

State of the White Sox bullpen as the Winter Meetings approach

Tag sale: The White Sox to take on Wade Davis’ salary, they likely can pick up a former elite closer for free. (YouTube)


With the news that Marcell Ozuna could be signing with the White Sox on Monday, it certainly looks as if the team has a chance to compete for a playoff spot in 2020. Adding Ozuna and Yasmani Grandal, along with the possibility of adding a couple of starting pitchers makes adding bullpen help a priority for the Sox this offseason.

While the 2019 edition of a bullpen wasn’t bad for the Sox, they lacked an ability to miss bats on a regular basis. Alex Colomé and Aaron Bummer were the back end options for the Sox in 2019, and while they were good, both of them pitch to contact and don’t pile up Ks. They both could be due for regression in 2020.

The Sox have a couple of other pieces on the roster that could be good options in 2020, such as Jimmy Cordero, Evan Marshall, and bounce-back candidates Kelvin Herrera and Jace Fry, but none of them beyond Herrera have track records as dominant bullpen pieces on a yearly basis in the bigs. Putting too much trust into those pieces without adding some outside help with upside could prove costly for the 2020 team.


Free agents

The free agent bullpeners who had the best years in 2019 look to be a bit redundant given what the Sox currently have in house. Will Harris (9.30K/9), Sergio Romo (8.95K/9), Sam Dyson (7.94K/9), Daniel Hudson (8.75K/9), and Brandon Kintzler (7.58K/9) are good pitchers, but might not be the smartest options for the Sox in free agency, at least as a main option. When the Sox are in late-inning, close-game situations, they need have guys that can get big strikeouts.

The most intriguing and talented option is Dellin Betances. Dellin has a big arm, is still young, and could be the perfect fit for the White Sox. Betances has a career 12.36 K/9, and from 2014-18 was absolutely dominant, posting a 1.40 ERA/1.64 FIP in 2014, 1.50 ERA/2.48 FIP in 2015, 3.08 ERA/1.78 FIP in 2016, 2.87 ERA/3.22 FIP in 2017, and 2.70 ERA/2.47 FIP in 2018. The problem? After dealing with shoulder and lat injuries that cost him most of 2019, Betances came back in September 2019 and promptly tore his Achilles after getting two outs. It was said to be a partial tear, and as far as Achilles injuries go, it shouldn’t be too serious of a recovery. But Jake Burger’s Achilles debacle was tough for the organization to swallow, so it may be hesitant to sign someone coming off of that type of injury. The injury also could present the Sox an opportunity to land an elite reliever at a non-elite price, which might be a chance they’re willing to take.


Minor league options

The White Sox do have some intriguing options in their system as it stands. Zack Burdi was taken after Zack Collins in the 2016 draft because of his huge arm. He elevated quickly through the system, and seemed primed for a chance to pitch in the bigs in 2017, before he tore his UCL and underwent Tommy John surgery. Burdi has had bumps in the road trying to come back from elbow surgery. He had a tough time regaining his big velocity, and tore his right patella tendon in June 2019. While Burdi has some work to do to prove he deserves to be with the big club in 2020, if he’s healthy and regains that big velocity, he has a chance to be a good one.

Tyler Johnson was another relief prospect who was elevating quickly through the system before a knee injury sidelined him for the first few months of 2019. Tyler finished last year with Birmingham, and had pretty good success. He has the ability to miss bats with his big fastball and good slider, and could be a midseason call-up candidate.

Ian Hamilton was another pitcher who was on the rise before injuries really hurt his status. He was dominating in hitter-friendly Charlotte in 2018 before he got a call-up. He didn’t have much initial success with the big club, but looked like 2019 was going to be a chance for him to shine. But freak injuries derailed his 2019, first with a car accident in spring training, then being struck with a line drive in the head after he made it back to action. Before the bad luck, Hamilton was impressing with a big fastball, and a pretty good slider. Maybe 2020 will be a bit kinder.

Zach Thompson is the other reliever who seems to have a chance. The big righthander was dominant in Birmingham to start the 2019 season, but hit a snag when he got to Charlotte. The hitter’s park and juiced baseball really hurt Thompson, as he gave up 14 homers in 75 ⅔ innings. The Sox converted Thompson to relief in 2018, and he dominated from the moment the change was made … until Charlotte. If Thompson proves he can make the adjustment in Charlotte at the beginning of 2019, a trip to Bridgeport could be in the works.


Trades

If the Sox are looking to trade for a relief pitcher, they would be looking at teams that probably aren’t looking to compete in 2020. If they want to find bullpen help, a trade might be the best route.

Elite Options include Josh Hader (2.62 ERA/3.10 FIP, 16.41 K/9), Liam Hendricks (1.63 ERA/1.82 FIP, 13.23 K/9), Brandon Workman 1.88 ERA/2.46 FIP, 13.06 K/9) and Ken Giles (1.87 ERA/2.27 FIP, 14.09 K/9). If the Sox decide to go this route, it will be costly in prospect capital. Of these pitchers, Hader would probably be the most costly because of age and contract status. A trade for Hader would probably cost the Sox their best prospect not named Luis Robert, and thus wouldn’t make sense. The other elites could possibly be obtained for a package centering around a tier-2 prospect like Dane Dunning or Jonathan Stiever. These types of deals would be more realistic at midseason, as the Sox would probably want to confirm that the team is competing before giving up real prospect capital in exchange for a relief pitcher.

Buy-low candidates are the type of guys who would make the most sense in the offseason. They fit the track record of the types of moves that the Sox front office likes to make as well. Andrew Miller (4.45 ERA/5.19 FIP, 11.52 K/9) and Wade Davis (8.65 ERA/5.56 FIP, 8.86 K/9) would be interesting options. Miller has been trending downward for the last couple of years, and has a lot of miles on his arm. Plus the Cardinals are a team with playoff aspirations. I wonder if they would welcome the salary relief, along with an interesting prospect in return like Luis Gonzalez or Blake Rutherford. Wade Davis’ second year with the Rockies was a miserable one, after signing a big contract in 2018. All of his numbers are down, and age could be catching up with him. But 2019 was a weird year: The ball was juiced, Denver is juiced, and there was some time on the IL for Davis as well. Two years ago with the Cubs, Davis was a much different pitcher (2.30 ERA/3.38 FIP, 12.12 K/9). Maybe getting out of the thin air would be just what the doctor ordered for Davis and the Sox. It wouldn’t take much to get Davis if the Sox offered to take on most of the contract.

Starter to reliever options would entail, for example, the Sox deciding to use Michael Kopech as a relief pitcher as he recovers from Tommy John. The Sox have a track record of using young starters in the bullpen before they start full-time, and Kopech could be a big weapon in a late-inning role. Reynoldo López would be another candidate to move to the bullpen. He has a big fastball, but has had trouble developing his secondary pitches. A move to the bullpen might allow López to focus on developing just one plus secondary pitch, as opposed to worrying about developing multiple secondaries. Plus López struggled with his concentration at times in 2019, so maybe one inning per outing would be a better option. Carlos Rodón also could be a bullpen option whenever he’s able to come back from his arm injury; another lefty in the pen is always good, and with Rodón’s injury history, a change in roles could be in the works.

 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Part III, the Ugly

Hope springs eternal: Grandal’s signing hopefully signals the start of something good. (@WhiteSox)


Thankfully, I won’t have to rant too much in the third installment of this series, now that the White Sox have added a GREAT, not good, but GREAT, player in Yasmani Grandal. Hopefully, that is a sign of a turning of the tides for an organization that has struggled to find any semblance of success over the last decade.

Now before I give the front office and ownership too much credit, they still have to show success on the field in 2020. And they’ve also displayed some bad behavior towards their fans, which I believe warrants an apology. Let’s dig into the latter point.

On Aug. 8, 2019, Rick Hahn joined Chuck Garfien on the White Sox Talk Podcast at Reggie’s, in a sort of town hall-type of affair. What happened at this podcast was unacceptable. Hahn intimated, and I’m paraphrasing here, that a certain negative segment of Sox fans were rooting for the rebuild to fail, because they thought he was doing a poor job as GM and wanted to be right.

Now, it just so happens that this rant by Hahn set in motion a series of events that got me writing about the White Sox for South Side Hit Pen, which is awesome, but I digress. The problem is, Hahn was completely tone deaf in saying this, because it just isn’t true. I’ve been critical of Hahn, the front office, and ownership, because they haven’t done a good job for the last decade, at minimum, of putting together good baseball teams. I speak for most critical fans, in that we desperately want the White Sox to be a premier organization. The fact is, Hahn has yet to show that he is capable of running a winning team. Since taking over as GM, Hahn’s White Sox have gone 491-642. The Sox were trying to compete from 2013-16, and their record in that time was 290-358.

So while we can split hairs about who’s fault it is that the Sox have failed during his tenure as GM, the fact is, we as Sox fans haven’t had much to root for, or be positive about. Rick, I don’t think you’re a bad guy, and I hope you can turn this thing around. I want nothing more than for the Sox to succeed. I’m rooting for you. But going after Sox fans last August was a bad look. My advice is to put your head down and keep working towards making this team a giant in the American League for the better part of the next decade. If you accomplish that, not only will the negativity disappear, but you will be treated as a god in this town. Prove us wrong, but do it with grace. There aren’t that many of us, so don’t drive us away.

The other ugly off-field thing that happened in 2019 was the Jerry Reinsdorf finish-in-second-place saga. News came out in early October, when David Samson went on the Mystery Crate podcast, that Reinsdorf offered some advice to David that his Marlins teams should aim to finish in second place every year. That way “there’s always a carrot left, there’s always one more step to take.” (For more specific details, check out the story that SSHP’s own Brett Ballantini wrote about Jerry’s ownership adventures.)

My take on this issue is more metaphorical than literal. Instead of looking at every time his White Sox teams have finished in second place, I look for other ways they came up empty. What are the other ways Jerry has indicated that having a winning team just isn’t that important to him?

1994 Despite having an elite team in 1994 that had a real chance at a World Series, Jerry was more concerned with rising player salaries, and led the fight against the player’s union, causing a strike that effectively ended that season. This really drove away fans of the team, doing damage to the fan base that may still exist today.

Alex Rodriguez The Sox started to get competitive at the beginning of the 21st Century, and a certain great player named Alex Rodriguez was available. Of course the White Sox were interested, as ARod was a surefire Hall-of-Famer. This period was the first time that I heard the Sox use the term “seat at the table,” which is Latin for “we want people to think we’re in on signing this guy, but we definitely won’t do what it takes to get it done.” How’s that carrot tasting so far? That is the crux of this line of thinking: It’s not just where the team finishes in the standings, it’s about making the fans believe that you really care about winning, but in reality the bottom line wins out.

2010s In the 2010s, the Sox kept “going for it,” but didn’t want to dish out the cash and commitment to land the elite players in free agency. The 2014 and 2015 seasons come to mind, when the Sox really felt like they were just a few pieces from contending. David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, Zach Greinke and Max Scherzer all were available. But the Sox shopped the midrange, secnd tier, and ended up with Melky Cabrera, David Robertson, Adam LaRoche, a trade for Jeff Samardzija, Jimmy Rollins … in other words, the standard fare. Some of these guys were OK for the Sox … but some were downright brutal. One, LaRoche, basically caused a team mutiny. Let’s say the Sox had decided to really go for it, signing Max Scherzer for seven years, $210 million. All of a sudden, the Sox aren’t so desperate to trade for a broken-down, past-his-prime James Shields, and we’re all talking about where the Fernando Tatís Jr. statue will go up once he retires.

Last offseason It’s so fresh, do I really need to mention the Manny Machado/Bryce Harper saga? Did the Sox finish second in the bidding for Machado? Did they mention “a seat at the table?” I think the point has been made.


But there’s great news, already spurred by the Grandal signing: 2020 is a new year. The Sox did what it took to sign an elite catcher, their first in decades. Is he just a carrot, or is his signing a sign that this team is now willing to really do what it takes to crush the competition? I hope it’s the latter. My spirits are rising, and I’m rooting for you, Hahn.

Here’s hoping Jerry is substituting trophies for carrots in 2020 and beyond.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Part 2: The Bad)

Part of the ‘3.9 crew’: Jay warms up before one of the few games he actually played in during 2019. (Kim Contreras/South Side Hit Pen)


Though the 2019 White Sox season had some good, there was also plenty of bad to talk about.

In Year 3 of the rebuild, in what was undoubtedly the worst division in baseball, the White Sox only managed 72 wins. The AL Central had one of the worst teams in the history of baseball, the 114-loss Tigers, and a terrible, 103-loss Royals team. Cleveland finished with 93 wins, but they were wounded this year, and feasted on Detroit and Kansas City. The Twins were legitimate, but how much of their success was real, and how much was weak competition?

The fact is, the White Sox should’ve been better in 2019, especially with the performances the top half of this roster provided. But as the case has been for quite a while now, the front office just can’t seem to stop tripping over itself. Here’s how.


2019 ‘additions’

Notable offseason additions for the Sox included trading for Manny Bañuelos, Yonder Alonso, Alex Colomé, and Iván Nova, and signing Jon Jay, James McCann, and Kelvin Herrera. Last but not least, the White Sox picked up A.J Reed over the All Star break.

The combined bWAR of those eight players was 3.9. It bears repeating: The combined bWAR of those eight players was 3.9!!!!!

To have eight players added to a team only produce 3.9 WAR is an unmitigated disaster! Sure, McCann was a pretty nice find. He had a career year in 2019, but basically disappeared in the second half of the season. I’d bet on him returning to his career norms. Colomé had a pretty good year, but seems to have had some good luck contribute to his results. Nova was average to slightly-above average, but was a disaster early in the season.

The rest of the additions were hot garbage, and there’s really no way to argue otherwise. The White Sox spent approximately $40 million on those eight players in 2019.

Manny Machado had a 3.3 bWAR by himself, and signed for $30 million per year. Bryce Harper was a 4.2 bWAR player in 2019, and signed for about $25 million per season. The position Harper plays is a black hole for the Sox, and now they’re in desperate need for someone exactly like him.

For the fans that want to argue that it’s still early in the rebuild, and the White Sox weren’t supposed to win yet, fine. So they are still in building mode? If they are, shouldn’t their pro scouting be able to net them better major league players, so they can trade them midseason for minor league depth, or become long term contributors to the big league club? The minor league system is very top-heavy right now, and better offseason additions would’ve been helpful to help supplant that talent.

The truth is, this issue is nothing new. The Sox have had a terrible time identifying even average major league talent in trades and free agency going on a decade now. It’s fiscally responsible to shop for the best players when they’re available, as opposed to shopping for quantity in the bargain bin. There’s a reason the lower-end players are available, and in terms of value and sunk cost, they end up costing a team more in the long run. Collectively, they contribute less positive results on the field than the more expensive players do. Even with some of the high-end talent the Sox have in house, it will be very difficult building a perennial contender if they don’t fix these scouting problems, and the 2020 offseason is quickly approaching. Remember, “the money will be spent.”

Offensive shortcomings

The White Sox are a team that has been plagued by a lack of on-base prowess for quite a while now. Most of the players on the team have an overly-aggressive approach at the plate that repeatedly gets exploited by opposing pitchers, leading to high strikeout rates, a lack of power, a lack of walks, and fewer runs scored overall. Opposing pitchers aren’t forced to throw strikes against the Sox, and the fewer strikes they have to throw, the less they have to use the middle of the plate, where hitters do most of their damage.

This is why the Sox parted ways with former hitting coach Todd Steverson, and hired Frank Menechino in his place. The on-base problems may be coaching issues, scouting issues, or a combination of the two. Consider that the White Sox were 23rd in the baseball with a .314 OBP (13th in the AL), 24th in OPS at .728 (12th), 24th in runs scored with 708 (13th), 25th in dingers with 182 (13th), 30th in walks with 378 (15th) … you get the idea. Only Arizona, Boston, Miami, and the Mets hit more ground balls than the White Sox. They were also 29th in baseball with 462 extra base hits.

It’s important to do as much damage at the plate as possible in today’s game, but when you are constantly giving up outs by bunting, runs become even more scarce. The Sox had three players in the top six in sacrifice bunts in 2019: Leury García led the A.L with 11, Yolmer Sánchez was tied for third with 7, and part-time player Ryan Cordell was tied for sixth with 6.

This is too much bunting. If the team is to get into the upper echelon of the league in scoring runs, the bunting has to stop, period. What plagued the 2019 White Sox on offense is equal parts philosophy, scouting/talent evaluation, and approach from the individual players.

Make no mistake; This isn’t an easy problem to fix. It’s not as simple as adding Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal. The front office has to find better players in free agency, trades, and the players that are already here have to improve.

Starting pitching

Obviously, injuries really hurt the White Sox starting pitching depth. Losing Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodón, Dane Dunning, and Jimmy Lambert to Tommy John surgery were big blows to the staff and its depth. There was a dose of bad luck that struck the White Sox in 2019, but good teams largely have the depth to survive the bad luck (and only Rodón’s midseason injury should have thrown the major league rotation into a lurch).

The problem with the rotation is that other than Lucas Giolito, nobody else on the staff really shined. Nova had some good moments, as did Reynaldo López,, but both were inconsistent throughout the year. They each had disastrous stretches of the season, with Reylo’s being more concerning.

Reylo certainly looked like a pretty good prospect with a live arm, but he hasn’t established any above average secondary pitches. His pitches have good velocity, but hitters can catch up to that velocity when they know they can just spit on the secondary offerings. There’s too much hard contact, too many walks, too many fly balls, and not enough missed bats (5.38 ERA, 184 innings, 169 strikeouts, 203 hits, 35 dingers allowed, and 65 walks). At times, Reylo battled with his command and seemed to lose his focus. Time is running out for him to be a success as a starting pitcher, and the Sox aren’t in development mode any longer. It’s either Reylo steps up his game in 2020, or it’s time for a change either to the bullpen or into trade bait.

Dylan Cease deserves time to develop and has good stuff, but why oh why can’t any White Sox prospects come up and light the world on fire immediately? Walks plagued Cease in his rookie campaign, but he has great breaking stuff, and a very good fastball. Can he develop a changeup and improve his command in his sophomore season? Only time will tell.

What there’s no excuse for, is the ridiculous lack of options the Sox had in terms of starting pitching depth in 2019. They literally ran out of major league-capable starting pitching. Bad player evaluation is what nets you Erving Santana (9.45 ERA), Bañuelos (6.93 ERA), Odrisamer Despaigne (9.45 ERA), Dylan Covey (7.98 ERA), Ross Detwiler (6.59 ERA), Carson Fulmer (2015 8th pick, 6.26 ERA), and Hector Santiago (6.66 ERA). Maybe a couple of those guys deserved a look and a chance in 2019, but what in the hell did anyone learn from starting Santana, Santiago, Despaigne, Detwiler, and Covey 32 times? This is completely inexcusable from a front office that has to find a way to scramble for better back-up plans.

Diamonds in the rough are essential for successful rebuilds. So far it’s just been charlatans.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Part 1: The Good)

A season highlight: Moncada’s emergence as a force on both sides of the ball. (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)


This is the first of a three-part series throughout the month of October about the Chicago White Sox 2019 season, starting with the good. Things will get scarier as the series goes on, so hold on to your hats, and get ready for a wild ride!


Yoán Moncada

The young man showed the first signs of superstardom in 2019. With a newfound aggressive approach at the plate, Yoyo added 80 points to his batting average. He had a .315/.367/.548 slash line, good for a robust .915 OPS. Yoyo had 25 dingers, and 75 RBIs. While his walk percentage dropped by 3% from 2018 to 2019, his strikeout percentage dropped by 6%, making it a good tradeoff. If advanced stats are more your speed, Yoyo’s hard-hit percentage rose by 2.4%, his percentage of home runs per fly ball rose 8.5%, and his WRC+ rose by 44 points to a stout 141! His fWAR finished at 5.6, while his bWAR was still an impressive 4.6, as FanGraphs seemed to like his defense at third base a little better than Baseball-Reference.

Other than a couple hiccups with his throws to first early in the season, Yoyo passed the eye test at his new position at third with flying colors. He displayed good hands, quick feet, and more than enough arm at the position, especially on the run. Moncada is just an ultra-smooth athlete. He makes everything look easy, and could man almost any position on the diamond with grace, if the Sox did decide to bring in a certain free agent third baseman, cough cough Rendon cough. Excuse me! AAhhhheemmmmm!

Moving forward, Moncada could benefit offensively from hitting the ball in the air more often, just like almost the everyone on the team. Ground balls are less valuable than fly balls, because fly balls can become home runs, simple! And when you have power like this:

and this

and this

Image result for neighbors airbag gif
(I was at that last game, and I left my seat like this)

you should hit the ball in the air early and often. Yoyo could also improve his overall offense by raising his walk rate just a little bit. He did get slightly overagressive swinging at pitches that weren’t strikes in 2019, but with time and more experience, Moncada could really perfect his plate discipline.


Lucas Giolito

Lucas Giolito had one of the most unlikely turnarounds in MLB history from 2018 to 2019. After reworking his arms lot and balance throughout his delivery, LG looked again like the No.1 prospect and potential ace he once was. He posted a 14-9 record in 29 starts, with a 3.41 ERA in 176.2 innings, as he was sidelined his last couple of starts with an oblique injury.

Because of the new arm slot, LG was able to add an element of deception to his pitches, making them look like something less than high definition to the hitters. The deception made LG’s fastball/changeup combination particularly lethal. The improvement Giolito made with his balance afforded him the ability to command his pitches at a high level, and added 2 mph to his four-seam fastball on average, to go along with the deception.

The changes LG made to his pitch repertoire is notable. He threw his four-seam fastball 54.9% of the time, up over 15% from 2018, and he threw his changeup 26.5 of the time, up 11% from 2018. LG essentially took the sinker out of his repertoire, and only threw his curveball 4.2% of the time, down 6% from 2018. All of the changeS in his repertoire made LG essentially a three-pitch pitcher. He featured the four-seamer, change, and slider on 95% of his pitches.

The biggest difference for the 2019 version of LG is he missed bats, striking out 32.3% of hitters, up 16% (!!!), and his walk rate fell to 8.1%, down from 11.6.

See how LG sends these hitters back to the dugout without supper using mostly fastball/change/slider combinations? Also notice that when he sends them back to the dugout, they aren’t hitting bombs out of the atmosphere! Maybe he’s figured out the secret of pitching.

Can LG duplicate his 2019 season or better? I’d say he can, and sky’s the limit if he can add more velocity and rediscover the curve as a change- of-pace pitch. Look for an elite, top-of-the-rotation starter going forward, health willing.


Honorable Mentions

Tim Anderson
Timmy went out and won himself a batting title in 2019. He slashed .335/.357/.508 with 18 dingers, and has insane athleticism, bat-to-ball skills, and flair to spare. The fact that Timmy didn’t start playing baseball until his junior year of high school is incredible, and he should keep getting better. However, he has to improve his approach at the plate. Not because I want to see him walk 75 times, but because I want him to force pitchers to challenge him with more fastballs. He has such a quick bat that improving his selection of pitches to swing at with help him do far more damage at the plate. There’s 25- or possibly 30-dinger power in that swing. Just an uptick in discipline can get him there, and will help him maintain a high batting average year-in and year-out. The defense has to get more consistent. Again, Anderson’s athleticism is insane, and he has more than enough for short, but he has to tighten up his footwork. He took a step back from his 2018 season defensively, and if it doesn’t get better in the next year or so, a move to the outfield is a possibility.

Eloy Jiménez
Eloy showed off his light-tower power, effortlessly hitting baseballs in the G spot where few tread, but only after a slow start at the plate. He saw sliders down and away early and often this year, and had a hard time adjusting to the pitch sequencing. But like talented hitters often do he adjusted, waiting for and feasting on fastballs he could handle along with hanging breaking balls. The adjustments Jiménez made throughout the year allowed him to smash 31 dingers, and he has the type of power to regularly hit 40 to 50 if he lifts the ball in the air more often. His defense was really bad in left, and that will only get marginally better, but there is a better fielder in there with more reps. (It’s almost like he would’ve been better off if he had a couple months to make these adjustments in the big leagues in 2018, but I digress.) Jiménez will always be a bat-first player, and could end up as a DH a couple of years down the line. But make no mistake, the bat will be elite for years to come.

José Abreu
It’s just hard not to love this guy. Abreu just loves playing for the White Sox, he’s a great teammate, and he cares. José won the RBI title with 123 in 2019, a career high, and has been the best run producer for the White Sox over the last six seasons. This year, however, José was inconsistent at the plate. Some of the reason for the high RBI totals are because he finally had help, in Moncada and Anderson being on base with speed to spare. Abreu was still above-average in 2019, but not quite an elite hitter because he got so swing-happy, as DJ likes to say during the radio broadcasts. It seemed he was RBI hunting, and got himself out too often when pitchers decided they wouldn’t let Abreu beat them. José turned it up with men on base, slashing .310/.348/.539, with 16 dingers and 106 RBIs. But he didn’t produce like a good hitter with the bases empty, where he slashed .259/.314/.470 with a still-respectable 17 dingers. It would behoove José to have a slightly less aggressive approach at the plate, and let his teammates pick him up when pitchers decide to pitch around him. José has always struggled at first base, and going forward if/when the Sox resign him, all parties will be better off if he spends the majority of his time at DH. Going into Abreu’s age 33 season, there’s still some good baseball left in the tank. It would be great the Sox can put a competitive team around José. We shall see.

Alex Colomé-Aaron Bummer
Much like Colomé’s cutter and Bummer’s sinker, these back-of-the-bullpen pitchers for the White Sox zigged in 2019, while the rest of the league zagged. The league has been emphasizing rising four-seam fastballs and missing bats, while Colomé and Bummer have been pitching to contact with good results. Colomé was 4-5 with a 2.80 ERA, while Bummer had no record, and a 2.13 ERA. While both pitchers pitched into some good luck with FIPs substantially higher than their ERAs, they are still useful bullpen pieces. The pair only walked 47 hitters combined in 128.2 innings, which is what you want from your bullpen. The Sox will still want to find a few relievers who get K’s, but Colomé and Bummer are a nice start (no pun intended), going into the 2020 season.