Hello, my name is Mike, and I’m a White Sox-aholic. Everybody together, “Hi Mike!”
Even if I have only one reader (Hi Mom), I appreciate the opportunity to share my White Sox fixation with other like-minded pitbullian fans. Well, on with the show.
For the next several installments, I am going to attempt to ascertain what we** already have in house. I cannot wait to prognosticate on trade possibilities, but for now let us concern ourselves with the roster as currently constituted. I’ll break it down into small, digestible bits: starting infield right side, starting infield left side, catchers and DH, starting outfield, bench, starting rotation, and bullpen. Obviously, there is a little subjectivity involved here, but these are best guesses based on the current 40 man roster (25 in the dugout on Opening Day) and last year’s playing time allotted by Ricky Renteria.
Starting Infield - right side
1B Jose Abreu: Is Jose Abreu one of the more underrated players in Major League Baseball? I believe he is. Side note: What you’ll learn here is I’ll skew towards traditional numbers, scouting reports, and what managers call the ‘eye test’. I’ll employ sabermetrics on occasion, but I won’t be all Baseball Prospectusy about it. To quote the omniscient Hawk Harrelson, "The more numbers and the more information you bring into the game, the more instincts you take out of the game. It's just that simple." Back to business.
2014-.317, .383, 36, 107 (average, OBP, HR, RBI)
2015-.290, .347, 30, 101
2016-.293, .353, 25, 100
2017-.304, .354, 33, 102
These are consistent, above average numbers across the board, even for the power-centric position that is first base. Look at the on base percentage, anything in the neighborhood of .350 is extremely solid. 100 runs batted in four years in a row. He’s a slugger that hits for average and makes contact in an era where .230 batting averages for power hitters is becoming the norm and 175+ strikeouts per season carry no weight of shame whatsoever. For example, Aaron Judge struck out 208 times this year to Abreu’s 119. 208 times-despite his otherwise fantastic numbers-he gave his team no chance of advancing a runner, putting a runner on, driving in a run, or forcing the defense to make a play. Cody Bellinger struck out 27 more times than Abreu in 127 fewer times at bat. Judge and Bellinger are names you were inundated with this season by the MLB Network and ESPN. Their teams won, so I understand. Yet, Abreu seems so unappreciated, especially considering his defense actually improved this year in his fourth year in the big leagues at 30 years old.
He is a very good player and I wish we could keep him, but we shouldn’t. I’ll explain why in future posts. I love him though.
2B Yoan Moncada: Pump the brakes Sox fans. Even though this kid is a gazillionaire already at 22 years old (he was given a 31.5 million dollar signing bonus with the Red Sox), he is not ready to carry a team to the postseason. The expectations from the media and fans have been overwhelming because it seems as though he’s become the face of the rebuild. I don’t think this is fair, and I don’t think he’s ready to perform at that level.
Moncada is concerned about seeing the right pitch, overly concerned. Like so many big time prospects in the day and age of swing trajectory and exit velocity, he strikes out too much. It seems few organizations care much about that anymore. However, in watching his at bats this season, it appears he is overthinking at times. I have seen him take an inordinate amount of pitches right down the middle, and despite the fact I batted .200 my sophomore year in high school, I inevitably yell at the television, “What are you doing 10 (his number)?!” If he was waiting on a certain pitch, he was wrong often in 2017.
Despite his curious at bats, the talent is ridiculously evident. His left handed swing is smooth and powerful. His speed for a guy built like a middle linebacker is frightening. It appears he gains speed exponentially as he gets out of the box and rounds first base. He has an otherworldly second gear.
For a young guy moved from his original position in minor league ball (3B), he glides around second base very well. Scouting reports were mixed on his ability to play the middle infield, but he put most doubts to bed, displaying well above average range, and a smooth, loose throwing motion, ala the one and only Robinson Cano. His range throwing hand side and glove slide produced several highlight reel plays.
Patience is difficult for owners, coaches, players, and fans. Yet, it’s often very necessary with young prospects in the major leagues. Judge struggled mightily initially. Baseball royalty Mike Trout batted .220, .281 OBP in a 40 game stretch at the beginning of his major league career. Moncada has athletic gifts that only God can bestow. However, you only need to look to our right fielder to understand that great natural talent sometimes takes years to manifest itself in great performance.
** I try not to be one of those jokers that says “we” every time I talk about the White Sox, like I’m a clubhouse guy or an anonymous scout that has helped the team behind the scenes. “We” slips out once in a while. I take this fan nonsense seriously.