Somehow, and I’m still not sure how, 2018 is almost over. Despite the rebuild, the White Sox accomplished quite a bit this season. There were highlight-reel plays, MLB debuts, and the organization now finds itself in the middle of an offseason filled with anticipation and excitement. As the holiday season takes over and 2019 rolls in, here are my top-five moments, decisions and accomplishments of the 2018 White Sox.
No. 5: Keeping Eloy in AAA
Checking in at No. 5 on my list is the decision to keep uber-prospect Eloy Jimenez in AAA. Assuming the White Sox keep him in the minors for the first three weeks of the 2019 season, Jimenez will make his long-awaited MLB debut in late-April. I covered this topic a few months ago, and I’ve bounced back and forth on the value of service time vs. major league experience. In the end, this was the best decision for the organization. The White Sox expect Jimenez to be an integral part of the next playoff team.
Whether or not the team signs Manny Machado or Bryce Harper (or both) this offseason, having Jimenez on a reasonable contract is crucial. It is especially important if the team signs one of the stars to a mega-deal. I’m excited to see Eloy crush the ball, but obviously, an extra year of control sounds wonderful. It’s a bit easier to admit now that the season’s over, as the pain of his AAA dominance isn’t as much of a lingering thought. It was absolutely the right choice for the organization.
No. 4: Holding on to Jose Abreu
At No. 4, I’ve got something every organization needs: A veteran to anchor the team. Historically speaking, playoff and championship teams have some sort of organizational stalwart leading the charge. Jose Abreu is exactly that for the White Sox. As the next window of contention opens, Abreu deserves the chance to win on the Southside. This is his only MLB team, and as long as he returns to form, he’s been nothing short of productive during his tenure. First base/DH types haven’t been as in demand as prior years, so part of him staying may be as much market demand as anything else. However, given his relationship as a mentor to guys like Yoan Moncada, his off-field importance is as important as his above average on-field performance.
No. 3: All the PalkSmashes
My love for Daniel Palka is no secret, which explains his placement at number three. While I still think the White Sox should trade him at peak value, the dude is an absolute beast. Palka finished tied with Miguel Andujar for the rookie home run lead. Palka did it in fewer games and at-bats, as well as placing himself among league leaders in all exit velocity stats.
It literally seemed like at one point that Palka hit a home run in every at-bat. He also seemed to hit the ball harder every time he homered, as well. White Sox fans were treated to a delightful #PalkSmash show in 2018. I enjoyed it as much as anybody!
No. 2: Adam Engel robbing three homers in the same week
White Sox fans were given another show one week in August, when Adam Engel robbed not one, not two, but three home runs in the span of a week! It was unbelievable, and it earns my number two spot on the countdown. Each robbery was just a little different than the others.
It seemed like someone had created a game of seeing who could sneak a homer just out of his reach. At one point, I was waiting for him to stand on top of the wall and catch one, Major League II style. I still want him to improve the bat to become a more viable centerfield option, but the glovework was nothing short of amazing.
No. 1: Hawk’s Farewell
And the number one White Sox moment from 2018: Hawk Harrelson‘s farewell ceremony. Love him or hate him, Hawk Harrelson was the voice of a generation of White Sox fans. He was always honest with his emotions, he wore his heart on his sleeve, and he had an unbelievable amount of stories to tell.
Unapologetic, dedicated to his Palehose, and as excitable as anyone, his presence in the booth will be missed. It was great sending him off with a huge ceremony and a parade of former players and colleauges stopping by. It brought me a sense of closure, and made me feel like even though things from my childhood end, those memories live on. I’m going to stop here because I don’t want to sound like I think he’s dead! It was a cool moment and a great way to end an impressive career.
Shoutout to the front office for keeping the White Sox relevant this offseason. Now, let’s sign Machado and/or Harper and guarantee some national attention and airtime in 2019!
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