The 2018 White Sox season started with a lot of hope and promise. 2017 gave us a glimpse of the future with Giolito, Moncada and Fulmer playing good ball. Delmonico looked to have a role in the future. Avi Garcia looked to have finally put things together and could be a force in the lineup for years to come. Abreu had another Abreu like season. Things were looking up as the Sox closed the 2017 season playing .500 ball the final month. Then, to start 2018, the White Sox crushed the Royals 14-7 in the season opener. Sadly, that would be the end of hope for the season as the White Sox would finish with 100 losses and and five games worse from the previous year. I didn’t feel they were going to be playoff contenders by any means. I did feel 75-80 wins was a good possibility. More importantly, I felt we would see more progress and growth in the young players. Nothing could be further from that as 2018 was the worst case scenario for the Sox organization.
Fulmer had control issues which led to a bloated 8.91 ERA and a demotion to AAA. Giolito went from a 1.5 WAR player to a -1.3 WAR pitcher who would lead the league in walks. Moncada started strong, got hurt, returned and played poorly for a couple months, but finished strong in the final month. His defense was very worrisome at times. Delmonico played more than double the games from 2017, yet hit one less HR and only two more RBIs. His average dropped nearly 50 points and he went from a 1.1 WAR to a -0.7 WAR. Jose Abreu went from a 4.7 WAR to 1.7 and played some mediocre defense at best. Avi Garcia was mostly hurt all season. When he did play, he was hitting nearly 100 points less in average. His WAR went from 4.6 all the way down to 0.3. Then, there was the awful bullpen. Over the season, the bullpen ERA was 4.49 which ranked 23rd. They blew 19 saves and had an opponents batting average of .256, which ranked 23rd. Then, there’s Michael Kopech. He had an electric and dominant couple starts to start his career. Then came the rain delay in start number four. He waited 28 minutes through a delay. He then proceeded to get shelled in the 4th inning and was pulled. Couple days later, it was announced he would need Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2019 season. Huge blow to the season.
Now, there were some highlights to this brutal season:
- James Shields showed he can still play some quality ball and eat innings for a young team that’s learning. He pitched over 200 IP, which is becoming rare in todays game.
- Adam Engel showed he was one of the best defensive outfielders in the game and can have a role for this team in the future.
- Carlos Rodon showed us he has top of the rotation stuff when healthy and can anchor a rotation. Reynaldo Lopez showed great improvement in his pitches. He went from 0.1 WAR to 3.1 and can be a viable top of the rotation pitcher.
- Tim Anderson showed he has the speed and power to be a 30/30 guy. He also made improvements defensively as the season went along.
- Daniel Palka showed us the longball at a pace of one in 16.6 at bats. That is on par with Ronald Acuna and Trevor Story. He finished 5th in rookie of the year voting. He can be the Sox DH for years to come.
The future is still very bright for this White Sox rebuild. They currently have the 3rd ranked farm system. Fans are very excited for their elite prospects like Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease. 2018 was bad and a long tough season, but the fan base hasn’t been this optimistic since the mid 2000s. This offseason could make up for a disaster of a season. With rumors of interest in Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, excitement will continue to rise.