The Chicago White Sox enter 2018 with a ton of excitement surrounding their youth after they were the second worst team in the AL with 67 wins. That win total comes from inexperience. 2018 could be an interesting year for the Chicago South Siders. Are they in good shape to win in 2018? Probably not but between Lucas Giolito, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech and Tim Anderson there is a lot of potential to be seen. They had two of the most underrated bats in the AL in Abreu and Garcia but their pitching is a huge scare moving into 2018.
Thyago Vieira, RHP
Welington Castillo, C
Everyone got traded at Deadline in 2017 for prospects.
Why they can win: They won’t win a ton this year but they could win some games because their youth will have them buzzing. All year it will feel like we are getting to see “the next big guy” in Chicago with all the prospects that will get time. They have a pretty decent bullpen and if Yoan Moncada And Tim Beckham can turn in good seasons and Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia match 2017, they could have a nice little heart of the lineup.
Why they can lose: As much as their youth will help, it will hurt them just the same. Their inexperience is well documented. They’re building for the future and that shows in their potential starting rotation with guys like Carson Fulmer, Reynaldo Lopez and Michael Kopech. They finished 24th in OPS, 23rd in Runs and their 4.78 Team ERA most likely won’t improve too much.
Bottom Line: They won’t be good, but they will be exciting. It will be fun to see this team grow and be a contender in 2020 maybe 2021. They feel a little bit like the 76ers and they need to Trust The Process and see their prospects follow through until much can happen. They realistically don’t have a shot at playoffs but we will be tracking one of the best farm systems in the league all year!
Major4 Numbers Game:
Stud: Jose Abreu, 1B
While he finished in second on the Southsiders in WAR, trailing Avisail Garcia (4.2-4.1), we feel the true stud of the squad is Abreu. He has hit 30+ HR in 3 of 4 seasons and his wRC+ (fangraphs) has never been below 120. While he is extremely one-dimensional, his defense and baserunning are atrocious, that dimension is dynamic. He is far from patient (5.2 BB%), but his bat to ball skills are strong (79.1% contact rate), and hits the ball hard (hard hit rate at a career high 40.5%). The White Sox appear to have numerous young studs on the precipice of the MLB, but for the time being, Abreu will be their lead horse and veteran presence in the dugout.
Sinkhole: Top of the Rotation, SP
While the Sox wait for top prospects like Lucas Giolito, Alec Hansen, and Michael Kopech to develop or establish themselves in the majors, there is a dearth of quality starters in the talent in their rotation. James Shields, Carlos Rodon, Miguel Gonzalez, Carson Fulmer and Lucas Giolito project to be the starting 5. Each have warts in their game: Shields strikes out batters at a below average rate, walks too many, and is homer-prone (9.7 K-BB%, 2.1 HR/9), Rodon has control and homer issues (4.02 BB/9, 1.56 HR/9), Gonzalez is a pitch to contact guy with can’t miss a bat (14.6 K% and 6.6 K-BB%), Fulmer is a high end prospect who had a terrible year in AAA (5.79 ERA and 5.39 FIP, fangraphs), and Giolito has elite stuff and prospect pedigree but hasn’t figured out how to miss MLB bats (6.75 K/9 and 4.94 FIP in 7 starts, fangraphs). Perhaps one guy figures it out, but it would be surprising. Hot take: for the second straight year, no White Sox pitcher finishes with a WAR above 2.
Regression Candidate: Avisail Garcia, RF
Garcia had a breakout year in 2017. Pegged as the next Miguel Cabrera during his time with the Tigers, he finally reached his potential this past season hitting .330 (3rd in MLB) and posting a OPS+ of 137 (baseball reference). There are some major “ifs” regarding his performance and its sustainability. He lead the MLB in BABIP at .392, the others around him were more fleet-a-foot than the 6’4 240 lb. Garcia (Jose Altuve, Tommy Pham, Charlie Blackmon) and some would consider them to be slight regression candidates. He doesn’t walk much (5.9%), and hits the ball without any loft (6.1 degrees avg. launch angle). While he is hitting his physical peak, 26 years old, don’t count on a repeat of his 4.1 WAR season.
Impact Acquisition: Welington Castillo, C
Like most rebuilding teams, big offseason spending was not an option for the White Sox. They look to be patient in seeing the transition through. They did make one solid addition in catcher Welington Castillo for 2/$15M. Castillo is a bat first catcher, with suspect framing skills (bottom-10 starter, StatCorner). He swings for the fences (20 HR in 365 AB), and often misses (26.6 K%). When ‘Beef’ makes contact, he launches the ball with a solid angle (15.1 degrees) and hits it with authority (89 MPH exit velo and 39% hard-hit). He may not help improve his pitching staff by getting them additional strikes, but he is a veteran presence who will provide protection for Abreu, Garcia, and the up-and-coming prospects in the White Sox elite farm system.
Major4 Prospects, (Top 100):
Eloy Jimenez, OF (4)
Michael Kopech, RHP (10)
Luis Robert, OF (28)
Alec Hansen, RHP (54)
3 other in Top 100
Why We Love Them: They’re young and should be fun to watch this year. They made a ton of trades to get big time prospects. Hawk Harrelson is absolutely outrageous and is pure comedy. Frank Thomas has been electric in his Nugenix commercials recently, too.