Is there a sabermetric for patience?

White Sox fans, how much patience are you going to need for this rebuild?  Is 2020 ok?  Is 2021 doable?  What about 2022?  Is that too long? 

Ya know, embarking on a rebuild doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to eventually be successful. Are Sox fans reluctant to consider the possibility that the rebuilding might culminate in an 83-79 record and zero playoff appearances?

Ok, ok, relax. Anything can happen, and my predictions and petty concerns (we have no ready third baseman in the minors, no ready first baseman in the minors, we are in danger of getting nothing for Avi Garcia and nothing for Jose Abreu before they split for free agency in 400 days or so) are my own baggage.  I just want everyone to evaluate where we are honestly.  Stomp on the rose colored glasses with your work boot.  Those are for Cubs fans.

Here’s where we are in the majors, followed by our minor league depth, and my nervous, angry, pessimistic commentary.  If the prospect is ranked in the Sox system, the ranking will precede his name, followed by his current minor league level, varying statistics, the number of levels he’s played in this year, and his age.

Note:  Of the 8 prospects the Sox acquired in the MLB Top 100 (7 in trade, 1 in international free agency), 4 are in the majors (Yoan Moncada, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, and Michael Kopech) and the other 4 are Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, Luis Robert, and Blake Rutherford.

1B Abreu

15 Gavin Sheets, High A, .296/.371/.404, 5 HR, 1 level, 22 years old

Sheets hasn’t hit for power so far in the minors, but his on base skills are solid. If the Sox move deliberately with him, let’s say a level per season, he will be with the big club in 2021 when Abreu is 34 years old.  Abreu will either be the Sox DH or a DH for another American League team by that time.

2B Moncada

4    Nick Madrigal, High A, .286/.339/.327, 0 HR, 4 Ks, 7 BBs, 3 levels, 21 years old

28 Laz Rivera, High A, .317/.361/.487, 47 extra base hits, 2 levels, 23 years old

Of the Big 3 prospects that have spent their first full seasons in the majors this year with the Sox (Moncada, Giolito, and Lopez), Moncada has to be the one the Sox are most concerned about.  He is constantly looking for the perfect pitch, and if he doesn’t get it, regardless of the count, he appears frozen and determined to believe pitches on the black inside and outside have to be balls.  His 186 Ks lead all of Major League Baseball.  My fear is they will give him Gordon Beckham type patience with a similar long-term result. 

Madrigal will never hit for power, but if he can play above average defense and produce a .290/.340/.380 line in Triple A next year or in 2020, he is your man at second base eventually with the Sox.  At that point, is Moncada a third baseman, a right fielder, or a Blue Jay?

SS Tim Anderson

4,  Madrigal, High A, .286/.339/.327, 0 HR, 4 Ks, 7 BBs, 3 levels, 21 years old

28 Rivera, High A, .317/.361/.487, 47 extra base hits, 2 levels, 23 years old

Television announcers Steve Stone and Jason Benetti, and radio announcers Darrin Jackson and Ed Farmer have been talking about Anderson lately as if he were the love child of Cal Ripken, Jr. and Ozzie Smith.  I don’t understand it.  I watch almost as many games as they do, but it’s as if we are seeing two different players. Here are his numbers since 2016:

2016:  .283/.306/.432, 9 HR, 30 RBI, 117 Ks, 13 BBs, 431 PA, 14 E

2017:  .257/.276/.402, 17 HR, 56 RBI, 162 Ks, 13 BBs, 606 PA, 28 E

2018:  .247/.291/.415, 17 HR, 58 RBI, 125 Ks, 27 BBs, 518 PA, 15 E

Ripken’s line when he was 25 years old:  .282/.355/.461, 25 HR, 81 RBI, 60 Ks, 70 BBs.  Yes, those K/BB numbers are correct.  More walks than strikeouts.  Smith had 13 Gold Gloves.  Yes, Anderson has settled down defensively.  He has good range, and he isn’t making as many mistakes on routine plays in the second half as he did in the first half.  However, that isn’t cause for hyperbole and screaming the company line.  His numbers are ordinary, he hustles some of the time, not all of the time, and there are several young shortstops in baseball that are significantly better than Anderson.

Madrigal and Rivera may not have the arms for shortstop, but that might be irrelevant.  If Rick Hahn and Ricky Renteria’s beliefs are in line with those of the White Sox announcers, Anderson will be around twice as long as World Series winner Juan Uribe (5 years).  We miss you, Juan.  Well, at least I do. 

3B Yolmer Sanchez

13 Jake Burger, 2017 1stround pick, tore left Achilles tendon twice in four months, 22 years old

I want Sanchez to be the 3B/SS/2B off the bench the next time the Sox contend, whenever that ends up happening.

Don’t hold your breath for Burger.

LF Nicky Delmonico

1   Jimenez, AAA, .341/.388/.585, 22 HR, 75 RBI, 2 levels, 21 years old

7   Rutherford, High A, .293/.343/.439, 7 HR, 75 RBI, 1 level, 21 years old

Predictions?  This time next year, Delmonico will be in Chunichi playing for the Dragons (Japan), Jimenez will be flirting with Frank Thomas’s numbers from his 23 year old season (.318/.453/.553, 32 HR, 109 RBI), and Rutherford will be in Double A, moving incrementally like Sheets and Rivera, among several others.

CF Adam Engel

9   Luis Basabe, AA, .257/.351/.444, 2 levels, 22 years old

14 Luis Gonzalez, High A, 58 extra base hits, .308/.370/.500, 2 levels, 22 years old

Like Sanchez, I want Engel to be the outfielder off the bench for the White Sox when they are a winning team.  I want him in center field late in tight games, a reassurance to every young Sox reliever. 

Basabe had an impressive Futures Game, and Gonzalez, a third round pick in 2017, seems to have made a significant jump in the prospect expectations department with his 2018 season. So, do you see Basabe in 2020, or does Gonzalez continue to surprise?

You see the pattern here, right?  If Hahn is as patient as he claims to be, each one of these guys will move deliberately through the Sox system.  No one will be rushed.  All the boxes will be checked.  Hell, Jimenez is batting .892 and he still isn’t here. 

The recurring call up years you’ll see here:  2020, 2021, 2022.  How often do you see young players come up and succeed right away?  Moncada hasn’t.  Giolito hasn’t.  Lopez hasn’t. It takes time.

RF Garcia

3   Robert, High A, .263/.338/.333, 114 at bats, 3 levels, 21 years old

Robert’s progress has been stalled by an injury to his thumb.  It seems as though, based on the Hahn patience model, he’ll start next year at High A.  So, what, 2021 for Robert?  Will he come up and dominate like Washington’s Juan Soto (.301/.416/.520), or will he struggle like Moncada?

C Wellington Castillo/Omar Narvaez/Kevan Smith

8  Zack Collins, AA, .233/.381/.402, 98 BBs, 155 Ks, 1 level, 23 years old

Scouting reports that don’t have White Sox letterhead typically say Collins isn’t ready for the catching position defensively at the major league level.  The numbers look like he’s a three outcome guy-strikeout, walk, or home run, in that order.  If he’s a version of Adam Dunn, can it please be the Cincinnati Reds version? Please. 

DH Daniel Palka and Matt Davidson

Minor league depth?

Maybe, with a full season, Palka could hit 35 to 40 home runs and annually challenge for Mark Reynolds’s strikeout record.  Meanwhile, Davidson was just traded to Milwaukee for a player to be named later. He’ll be their closer. 

Rotation Carlos Rodon, Kopech, Lopez, and Giolito

5   Cease, AA, 12-2, 2.40, 124 IP, 160 Ks, 50 BBs, 2 levels, 22 years old

6   Dane Dunning, AA, 6-3, 2.71, 86.1 IP, 100 Ks, 26 BBs, 2 levels, shut down in June (elbow), 23 years old

10 Alec Hansen, High A, 0-4, 6.04, 56 BBs, 48 Ks, 47.2 IP, 2 levels, 23 years old

Cease had an incredible year, and a team not named the White Sox might bring him up in May of 2019. However, I think the Sox will be…patient and make sure Cease checks all the boxes at Triple A next year. 

Dunning’s elbow is an issue moving forward, and Hansen regressed mightily and was demoted in 2018. 

I guarantee Mark Buehrle could give the Sox 175 innings until the 2020 Cease call up.

Bullpen Jace Fry

17   Zack Burdi, Rookie ball rehab, 0-1, 2.84, 6.1 IP, 23 years old

Burdi is just beginning his rehabilitation after being out for over a year after Tommy John surgery. The Sox will have to be patient with him.

Hey, Major League Baseball is all about trends nowadays, right?  Launch angles, exit velocity, BABIP, FIP, xFIP, tERA, SIERA, closers used at the start of games, the best hitters in a line up batting second instead of third, speed not mattering anymore at the top of the order, etc. How about the Sox go with a one-man bullpen next year.  Fry looks pretty tough.  He can handle it. 

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