Baseball

Now we move on to the section of the diamond with approximately zero remaining starters from Spring Training. The turnover ratio in the White Sox outfield has reached a level usually reserved for Amazon warehouse employees and White House spokespeople. The dearth of injuries has provided quite a few opportunities for guys who would’ve just been role players to step up and help the team.

And then there’s Adam Eaton.

 

ADAM EATON

.201/.298/.642

9.1% BB Rate / 25.3% K rate

5 HR/ 28 RBI / 33 R

.288 wOBA / 82 wRC+ / 0.3 WAR

I only put Eaton here to highlight what an absolutely terrible signing he was to begin with. With Rick Hahn’s yearly attempt to beat out the market by being done with his free agent signings before Christmas, the Sox ended up overpaying for a player that’s produced half the value than a guy that was CUT BY THE FUCKING PIRATES. Getting DFA’ed in the opening weeks of July shows that Rick Hahn can at least admit when he’s made a mistake, but unfortunately he doesn’t learn from them as this is the 2nd year in a row he’s put a band-aid on what was a mortar wound in RF.

GRADE: F….uck off forever

 

ANDREW VAUGHN

.253/.320/.772

8.1% BB Rate / 25.0% K Rate

10 HR / 28 RBI / 36 R

.331 wOBA / 112 wRC+ / 0.9 WAR

I don’t like giving Tony LaRussa too much credit (because I don’t think he does much more than just sit there most of the time), but his handling of Andrew Vaughn this season deserves praise. You can see him developing at an exponential rate as the season progresses, and a good amount is helped by how Tony uses and shelters him in the lineup. Vaughn was already a masher of left handed pitching, but in the month of July his splits against righties has exploded. Just look at his slash line against RHP in June vs July:

June: .182/.191/.487  1HR  27 wRC+ (ouch)

July: .393/.419/1.205  3HR  219 wRC+ (holy shit)

On top of all these offensive corrections he’s making, the defense he’s playing in LF (a position he’d never played before) is slightly above league average. Which, if you think about everything else going on with him is absolutely insane. The kid is going to be a monster, and his new positional eligibility solves a lot of issues for the organization. Awesome.

GRADE: A

BILLY HAMILTON

.230/.253/.667

3.2% BB Rate / 32.3% K Rate

2 HR / 10 RBI / 16 R

.282 wOBA / 78 wRC+ / 0.4 WAR

After Eloy went down with his pec tear back in March, I wrote about potential replacements for him. When I mentioned Billy Hamilton, I basically said that if he was going to be an everyday OF for the White Sox they have bigger issues than that. Just looking at his body of work, what I said still holds true. That doesn’t mean that Billy hasn’t brought value to the Sox, it’s actually quite the opposite.

He’s had some seriously clutch hits, plays excellent defense in the OF, and is still a serious threat on the basepaths. His .253 OBP leaves something to be desired, but that’s been the case throughout his career so it’s not an outlier by any means. He’s also just a really good dude, and very fun to root for. Exactly what you want out of a bench player, and when Eloy comes back I’m hoping he sticks around. He’s the kind of unsung hero that can make memorable moments in the postseason.

GRADE: C+

ADAM ENGEL

.286/.340/.690

2.1% BB Rate / 14.9% K Rate

5 HR / 11 RBI / 10 R

.424 wOBA / 173 wRC+ / 0.7 WAR

Adam Engel has only played in 13 games thus far this season, so the stats as shown are somewhat misleading. Except for the dingers. 5 HR in 13 games (while probably unsustainable) is pretty impressive. What else is impressive is (Much like Andrew Vaughn) that Engel is starting to hit right handed pitching at a higher rate than ever before in his career. In those 13 games he’s played, he’s actually batting .333 against RHP vs .221 against LHP. 3 of his 5 dingers have come off righties as well. Again, a very small sample size…but an encouraging one.

GRADE: Incomplete

BRIAN GOODWIN

.267/.353/.864

11.7% BB Rate / 21.4% K Rate

4 HR / 15 RBI / 17 R

.370 wOBA / 137 wRC+ / 0.6 WAR

All the kudos to Rick Hahn for very clearly having Brian Goodwin on his radar even before every tendon in Luis Robert’s hips exploded like a rubber band ball being chainsawed in half. He really didn’t waste much time signing him to a deal after the Pirates (for some reason) moved on from him at the beginning of the year. Goodwin had a very good run in 2019 with the Angels with 17 home runs in 130 games, but was sent to the Reds in an off-season deal. He had less luck with them, as he was treated as a placeholder for Jessie Winker and Nick Senzel.

His time with the Sox has been successful by any metric that you want to use, but I’m most impressed with his patience at the plate. The 11.7% BB rate would be the highest of his career, and he credits his time in the minor leagues as giving him the impetus to overhaul his approach at the plate. It’s working, and the Sox are reaping the benefits. He’s a keeper for sure.

GRADE: A

LEURY GARCÍA

.263/.330/.699

9.3% BB Rate / 25.5% K Rate

3 HR / 39 RBI / 36 R

.308 wOBA / 96 wRC+ / 1.2 WAR

A lot has been asked of Leury Legend this season with the amount of injuries to Sox starters this year. He had a pretty rough start to the season, but once the calendar month began with “J” he’s come on strong. The power he showed last season really hasn’t appeared yet, but he’s getting on base at a good clip and plays at least league average defense at multiple places around the diamond. Once (hopefully) people start coming back healthy, Leury can be used where he fits best: as a day of rest for everyone on the diamond. You can’t go wrong with someone who is positionally flexible like him, and Hahn did a good job keeping him on the roster.

GRADE: B+

 

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Twins 10 – Sox 5

Game 2: Twins 3 – Sox 10

Game 3: Twins 14 – Sox 2

 

 

Where to begin? The first series of an abbreviated season finds the White Sox with  1-2 record looking up at the Twins, Indians and Tigers(?!) after the pitching staff got pummeled to the tune of 27 runs in 3 games leaving the team with a cool 9.00 ERA. Reynaldo Lopez left Sunday’s game in the 1st inning with shoulder tightness, and my beautiful boy Eloy left shortly thereafter when he crashed into the LF fence attempting to track down a Nick Cave (sigh) grand slam. While this was a very inauspicious start to a season where the Sox have deigns on a playoff berth all was not totally terrible. For one thing, the Sox don’t see the Twins and their orbital battle station offense again until the end of August so there’s plenty of time for the team ERA to come back to earth. To the bullets!

 

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

-Let’s start with the most pressing issue: Nicky Delmonico is probably not a major league starter in even the furthest stretch of your imagination. He went 0-9 with 3 strikeouts and managed to overthrow multiple cutoff men slow pitch softball style on Sunday. More damning for him was that in limited time Adam Engel went 4-6 against mostly right handed pitching and is automatically a defensive upgrade over everyone not named Luis Robert in the outfield. Leury Garcia will be in RF full time when the team stops fucking with Nick Madrigal’s service time, but until that happens I think Engel has earned the right to start. His last  month of the 2019 season carried a .286/.314/.571 slash line with a couple of dingers. It’s time.

-Speaking of Leury Garcia, his start at 2B on Friday night didn’t endear himself to anyone when his failure to turn an easy double play turned into 5 runs for the Twins. He completely redeemed himself with 2 dingers the next day, however, proving that baseball truly is a fickle mistress. He’ll be even better when he’s in right field so Robert doesn’t have to go line to line and play the entire outfield by himself.

-Since we brought him up, Luis Robert had himself an excellent first series. The first MLB pitch he saw in his career he roped a single to LF that had an exit velocity of 115.8 mph. He finished the night 2-4 adding a double. With Saturday being a little forgettable at the plate, Sunday he bombed his first career home run to dead center field off Kenta Maeda. That one merely had an exit velo of 114.4 mph. He also can run down pretty much anything in center field. The kid can not only play, he can fucking roll. It’s gonna be fun to watch.

-As mentioned above, the Sox pitching staff didn’t exactly slather themselves in glory this weekend with the exception of Dallas Keuchel. He kept the Twins bats off the board until the 6th inning Saturday, leaving the game with 2 on base. Steve Cishek promptly tacked them onto Keuchel’s ERA, serving up a cookie to Nelson Cruz that he did not miss. Other than that little blip Keuchel looked very solid, proving himself a great addition to a rotation that suddenly needs it.

-With a shitload of runs being scored across the league this weekend it’s pretty obvious that the 3 week mini camp was not enough to get most major league pitchers not named Bieber up to speed. I’m not super worried about Lucas Giolito yet, but a good start against the Tribe on Wednesday would alleviate a lot of that tension.

-Yoan Moncada dominated Twins pitching the first two games, which makes Renteria’s decision to give him the day off Sunday particularly puzzling, especially with a precious off day after the series against the Indians. If you don’t want him playing the field after returning from COVID that’s fine, but statistically speaking you’d rather have his slash line up there against Maeda than Jose Abreu’s.

-Next up is the team the Sox will be battling with the rest of the way for the expanded playoff spot, the Indians. Giolito and Bieber on Wednesday should be a good time, and the Sox should be able to take 2 of 3 against a team that’s not on the same offensive plane of existence as the Twins. Get it done, and move on to the Royals.

Everything Else

We’ve reached the end of the position player portion of these previews and let me thank you, dear reader, for coming this far. The following list will include a few guys that might never see an at bat with the big club, but dang it the MLB added an extra roster spot and I wanna write about THE YERMINATOR. The 2020 team may finally resemble an actual Major League Baseball™ club, which means that guys like Adam Engel and Danny Mendick won’t need to try and make you stop hating them because they were forced into more playing time than they should’ve ever had. No, we finally get to see them in roles that they’re suited for, supplementing the roster, playing every few days and dare I say…maybe excelling at it???

Adam Engel

2019 Stats

.242/.304/.383, 6 HR 26 RBI 26 R

.296 wOBA 84 wRC+, 0.8 WAR +2 DRS 

LAST WEEK ON NITRO: Engel found his way into 89 contests last year and posted a mildly respectable 84 wRC+ in his 248 part-time at bats. He found himself part of a five-six headed OF monster as the Sox churned through Him, Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell to fill space and eat time until they would employ real MLB players in their positions with Engel pacing the field (not that there was much of a bar). His real value was realized, as always, in the field where he was one of few Sox to actually SAVE runs in 2019.

TOO SWEET (WHOOP)/YOU FUCKED UP!: So as I stated above, Engel should finally be in the role that best suits him – fourth outfielder. His defense in the OF is still the best on the team until Luis Robert proves it otherwise. He should not eclipse 75 at bats. He will see plenty of time as the late inning replacement for one of the corners, and for my money it’s Nomar Mazara being lifted. Maybe he’ll get some pinch running chances too and can boost his lackluster three SB from 2019. The only way Engel hurts the team is if he’s forced into another 250+ ABs somehow, and with Garcia the real super utility on the team I don’t see how that’s possible.

Danny Mendick

2019 Stats (AAA)

.279/.368/.444, 17 HR 64 RBI 75 R

.355 wOBA 109 wRC+, 0.2 WAR

LAST WEEK ON NITRO: Mendick put together a very fine season at Charlotte, earning himself a September call up and 40 plate appearances with the big club. The audition was successful enough to keep him on the 40-man and in the conversation for a bench spot, something that became a near lock when the team decided to non-tender all-around great human/fan and clubhouse favorite Yolmer Sanchez. Danny showed a keen batting eye, with a very respectable 66:96 K:BB ratio while displaying decent power in a .166 ISO. He’s also versatile in the field, capable of manning any INF position and doing it well (+1 DRS combined at 2B/SS/3B).

TOO SWEET (WHOOP)/YOU FUCKED UP!: Mendick is in a slightly different position than Engel in that he could see more playing time early, especially if the highly touted Nick Madrigal struggles to open the year. The way this Spring is going, no one has staked their claim on the 2B job and that means Mads is likely ticketed for Charlotte until May. Mendick will see more opportunities early since his main competition at 2B is Leury Garcia, and he’ll be spelling Robert/Mazara more than I think many want to believe. Mendick could keep Madrigal down for longer than anticipated with a hot start and some of that power he displayed in 2019; he could also see himself demoted to spelling Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson very infrequently if he’s terrible and Madrigal earns a promotion sooner than anticipated or Leury take the gig in full.

Yermin Mercedes

2019 Stats (AAA)

.317/.388/.581

23 HR 80 RBI 54 R, 153(!!!) wRC+

LAST WEEK ON NITRO: The Yerminator burst into Sox fans hearts with his towering moon shots straight out of BB&T Stadium in Charlotte. Mercedes has worked his way from the AAA phase of the 2017 Rule 5 draft into the conversation for a roster spot in Chicago via his ability to absolutely destroy pitches, something he’s never really struggled to do. The issue is that our pal Yermin here hasn’t really had a position to call home on the diamond, though Rick Hahn and Co. will tell you he’s REALLY worked on his receiving and if a totally capable backstop. Yermin himself would tell you he can handle 3B, too, but Yoan needn’t break out a different glove. If Yermin did enough in 2019 to secure a roster spot it’s to pinch hit and be the emergency catcher.

TOO SWEET (WHOOP)/YOU FUCKED UP!: Yermin finds glory in 2020 simply by making this team. Zack Collins is what he is and that isn’t changing IMO, but he’s wasted without regular playing time so he’s headed to Charlotte leaving Mercedes in pole position for the newly minted 26th spot. Say he clubs 8-10 dingers in 70ish at bats, a few of which come as walk offs and Yermin reaches Sox legend status. I don’t really see a scenario in which this goes south; he’s either good enough to make the team or he’s back putting on a show for the Knights faithful in AAA.

Nicky Delmonico

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LAST WEEK ON NITRO: Ol’ Nicky D would like for you to believe 2019 did not happen. He labored through an atrocious stretch to open the year in Chicago that lasted just 21 games, got demoted to Charlotte for another 17 forgettable contests and finally called mercy and had shoulder surgery before being released in June. The Sox brought their familiar face back on a minor league deal in December and have seen him work hard in Spring to throw his hat in the ring for that final 26th man spot.

TOO SWEET (WHOOP)/YOU FUCKED UP!: Keeping with the theme here, simply finding his way onto the MLB roster would be the top of the mountain for Delmonico. Returning to the MLB after the disastrous year and a half he spent with the Sox that preceded this Spring is enough, and he’d simply be asked to spell an OF here or there, maybe pinch hit a time or two. You fucked up if you’re actively rooting against him for some reason. Get a life.

PALKAMANIA

LOL, if Palka is somehow on this team, we’re all gonna be so fucking sad at what became of the 202o season that I’m not even going to entertain the idea of writing about it. He’ll always have #fromthe108 from 2018, I guess.

Prediction: Mengel will make up the main bench spots behind James McCann and Leury and I’m going to go ahead and anoint Yermin Mercedes the first ever White Sox 26th man. He can catch in a pinch, he can flat out hit, and he’s an absolute unit. TOUCH ‘EM ALL, YERMINATOR!

(Feature Photo credit to @zsoxwood)