The Chicago White Sox haven’t had a lot go right this season but the rebuild is trending up.
With the All-Star break looming, it makes sense to take some time and hand out some first-half awards for our Chicago White Sox. Given there isn’t a whole lot positive to give away, there still have been some bright spots on the South Side of Chicago. Who stood out the most and what should White Sox fans look for in the second half of the season?
Biggest surprise: OF/DH Daniel Palka
For a player that was claimed off of waivers last November, Palka has spent a consistent amount of time in the middle of the White Sox lineup. His average exit velocity is 93.1 MPH, which is 4.4 MPH faster than the major league average of 88.7 MPH. Palka has 11 home runs in 203 at-bats, meaning he is good for a home run one out of 18.45 trips to the plate.
While that last statistic might not be among the league leaders, Palka is still providing the Sox with a left-handed power bat in the middle of the order. One area Palka needs to improve is making contact, currently striking out one out of every 2.71 at-bats. If Palka cannot make more consistent contact he will not stick around in the big leagues long but if he does, the Sox might have found themselves a solid left-handed run producer.
Biggest disappointment: RHP Lucas Giolito
Heading into the 2018 season, Giolito was supposed to be one of the top starting pitchers on the White Sox. Unfortunately, the opposite has occurred, as Giolito’s ERA is currently scraping seven (6.59) and his WHIP is north of 1.50 (1.56). Giolito’s most disturbing stat is his BB/K ratio, which is one to one (57/57) making it nearly impossible to win games in the major leagues.
If Giolito is going to become a good pitcher on the South Side, he is going to need to improve both his control and command. There is no way a hurler can allow 94 hits in 97 innings, not to mention the stats listed above, and even stick around at the big league level. So while the talent is there, his production will need to take a massive leap if he wants to have any kind of big league career.
Three things to watch for in the second half
With the Sox having a bevy of arms (James Shields, Joakim Soria, etc.), it makes sense that they will be making their fair share of moves. Even though it is highly unlikely that any high ranking prospects will be coming back to the South Side, don’t be shocked if some solid talent makes its way into the Sox system, specifically, pieces that contribute within the next year as the White Sox look to begin competing sooner rather than later.
As most of you know, the Sox have one of the top rated farm systems in baseball. Pitcher Michael Kopech and outfielder Eloy Jimenez could be headed to Guaranteed Rate Field this season, so keep your eye on how they perform down on the minors over the final few months.
Race for the top draft pick
Considering the Sox will have one of the worst teams in baseball, they will be drafting very high in next season’s First-Year Player Draft. Unfortunately, the Sox might get beaten out for the first and second picks by Baltimore and Kansas City, leaving them fighting for the third spot. Regardless, this is an area to watch over the coming months as it will aid the rebuild significantly to draft higher due to slot money.
All in all, the Sox will be spending the rest of 2018 evaluating what talent they already have at the major league level. That might not sound fun, but it is what it is. Remember, the Cubs and Astros went this exact same route and they are now among the best teams in baseball. So remember losing can be a good strategy when it is executed correctly. Let’s hope they don’t mess it up, Sox fans.