By: Mark Lester
The White Sox, as predicted, are looking like a team destined, once again, to finish 4th or 5th in one of the worst divisions in the history of baseball, the AL Central. After a couple weeks of baseball, there are a lot of obvious positives and negatives for the Sox, though I’ll be the first to admit there’s a whole lot more negative. That’s immediately clear when one takes a look at the standings.
The White Sox have, at the time of this writing, started off the season 3-8, leading only the Kansas City Royals in the division standings. The most obvious way to point the blame for this underwhelming start would be the abysmal work of the pitching staff. As of right now, they’ve allowed the worst ERA in baseball at a staggering 6.94. For a team that kicked off the season playing in a division that’s worse than every other division by a long shot, that number is incredibly worrisome, and it’s reflected in their poor start to the season.
Their offense, however, has been a far different story. Granted, their only 16th in the league in runs scored, which isn’t exactly stellar. But considering they have one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball, a middle-of-the-road offense is a huge game changer for an otherwise terrible team.
By far the most notable standout on offense has been the increasingly productive third baseman Yoan Moncada. Last year, in what was his first full season of major league ball, Moncada hit for a measly average of .235, while leading ALL of baseball in strikeouts with a total of 217.
The last 11 games have been a completely different story.
Moncada is by far the hottest player on the White Sox lineup, arguably even one of the hottest in all of baseball. He’s started the season with a slash line of .319/.360/.617. He’s already on pace for 44 home runs and 191 RBIs. Yeah, you read that right. 191. While no one’s expecting that pace to keep up, it’s certainly encouraging to see young players like Moncada heating up early in the season, especially after the White Sox missed out on the big prizes of free agency in Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Shortstop Tim Anderson has also been a pleasant surprise, contributing 0.9 Wins Above Replacement to the Sox, good for 7th in the majors.
It’s too early to say right now, but considering how well several players who underperformed last year are doing alongside the fresh faces coming from AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte, I’d say that there’s a lot of potential for the White Sox young offensive core.
However, to quote the great Casey Stengel, “good pitching always beats good hitting, and vice versa.” Despite being one of the most confusing quotes ever spoken, it speaks volumes about why a team like the White Sox can never succeed.
The performance of the White Sox pitching staff has been, to say the least, absolutely atrocious. Even if Moncada and Anderson keep producing and fresh call-ups like Eloy Jimenez have monster seasons, their ceiling will never be higher than .500.
There’s no reason to have hope for this years team on the South Side. Their performance on the mound after two weeks is enough for me to confidently say that they won’t be sniffing a playoff spot at any point this season. And that’s perfectly fine. The White Sox have been tanking for years, and I expected the worst from them before this year started. But White Sox fans, if you were hoping for an improved pitching corps that would be at least adequate for a year, it’s all but certain at this point that that won’t be seen in 2019.