Very rarely as a White Sox beat reporter are you given the task of an assignment that brings me more joy than the one I am writing right now. The half-way report on my beloved pale hose. A team that is starting to put things together, but not all the way. Which that is okay, for where we are as a team right now.
So first, we currently sit at 42-44. This is a win total that the White Sox did not reach until August 5th last season. This team is starting to beat the teams that they are supposed to, with an over .500 record against teams under .500. In addition, they are 22-16 against divisional opponents. They also are winning close games, with a team percentage of .588 in one-run games, versus a .375 clip last season. To say there has been improvement this season would be an understatement.
Here are some positives and negatives from the first half of the 2019 White Sox season.
James McCann, White Sox Catcher
You cannot underestimate the impact that James McCann has had on this team and our young pitching staff. In a recent radio interview, Lucas Giolito says the moment it clicked for him this season was when McCann in a game that would be shortened by rain told him to just get the ball and throw. Omar Navarez, whom McCann replaced, held a WAR of only 1.9, while McCann has a WAR of 2.9. I will openly say that with Zach Collins struggling during his brief time in the majors, McCann has made himself nearly irreplaceable on this White Sox team.
Lucas Giolito, White Sox Starting Pitcher
While picking two of the three all-stars as your positives may appear to be shooting fish in a barrel, it is hard to not say that these two players’ huge turnarounds have been a catalyst for this team. Numerous articles have been written about the worst to first progression of Giolito, and his dominance has made him a solid number one starting pitcher for years to come.
White Sox Personnel Department
Rick Hahn had an almost impossible job when he took over for Kenny Williams. Kenny had left the team in a virtual limbo with no real direction. Very early in Hahn’s tenure, the White Sox front office was jokingly called Kenny’s voice box. This year, I have to argue that appears to be further from the truth than ever. The facilitation of the trades and signings of this team have panned out thus far, and will hopefully continue to do so. He has continued to allow the fan base to feel the optimism of a young team that is on the cusp of greater things to come.
I will also address the elephant in the room, I LOVE THAT WE DID NOT SIGN MANNY MACHADO. The youth of this team could very well be influenced by a player like Machado, who has talked about not running out ground balls, etc. The second thing about not signing Machado is that it allows our farm talent to continue to develop. Nick Madrigal now has a place to go once he is ready for the big show, and Yolmer Sanchez has proven more than capable in the meantime. We will make the right signing at the right time with this team.
The Designated Hitter Position
The rotation of the cast of characters filling out our DH spot for an American League team has been embarrassing. From Yonder Alonso to Daniel Palka, we don’t have a guy that can be an every day DH. Realistically, neither of those options belong in the major leagues right now, and it’s something that the White Sox need to address in the future. Jon Jay has been a nice pick up so far, but he needs to be in Right Field, not filling in at DH. This ten-year veteran is not the long term answer at this position.
The Back End of the Rotation
From Ivan Nova to Manny Banuelos, the White Sox have not had any stability in the back end of their rotation. Dylan Cease looks to be a decent fill-in for the third spot in the rotation, but it really does not solve any of the issues we have. Reynaldo Lopez has not developed this season, and has been very hit or miss. Do I have hope that he will break out and be the pitcher we thought we were getting? Yes, I do. But, he does not seem to be an answer right now for a team that is talking about making a wild card run. I am aware that Carlos Rodon and Michael Kopech are coming back from injury, and that they could fill in some of those spots. Realistically though, we need to add some arms to this rotation to solidify it.
Attendance at Guaranteed Rate Field
After 42 games have been held at Guaranteed Rate Field, we are averaging 21,708 in attendance. While I never expect to have the attendance of the other team in town, who is averaging 37,500, we need to show this management team that the fans are invested in White Sox baseball. This team is young and hungry, which I would argue is the embodiment of the south side. The youth of Eloy Jimenez, the fun of Tim Anderson, and the continued growth of Yoan Moncada are all reasons to go and support this team. They have earned it.
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