It’s hard to find a word that perfectly describes the 2017 White Sox season. Some quality candidates would include: weird, wild, bad, odd, good, enlightening, encouraging, promising, crazy… maybe all of the above.
One thing that is for sure is that it was a roller coaster journey from start to finish. From an offseason full of franchise uncertainty, to a 3-1 loss on the final day of the season with absolute directional certainty within the organization.
The Sox finished 2017 with a 67-95 record, good enough for second worst in the American League, ensuring them of the No. 4 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.
The Sox finished 2017 with a whole new personnel makeup compared to what they started with thanks to multiple trades of core pieces, netting them many talented prospects and the top farm system in baseball (6 of the top 100 prospects in baseball).
The Sox finished 2017 with the future of their franchise starting at second base, ending the season with a hot streak throughout the final month of September. Yoan Moncada finished the year with eight homers, 46 hits, 22 RBI’s, slashing .231/.338/.412/.750, and multiple highlight reel plays at second base; cementing himself as the future core piece of the team.
The Sox finished 2017 with a glimpse into their future starting pitching rotation. Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez have both shown flashes of success and development since their mid-season call-ups. Carlos Rodon showed signs of improvement at times, but had shoulder surgery at the end of the season that will put him on the shelf for 6-8 months, something that will hopefully help him in the long run. We also saw pitchers in the minors emerge as powerful arms that could be a part of the big club’s stable in the coming years.
The Sox finished 2017 with a new and improved Avisail Garcia, and a refreshed Jose Abreu. Avi, voted to his first All Star Game, took off early in the season after fans wanted him gone during the winter. All he ended up doing was finishing second in AL batting average (.330). Meanwhile, Jose Abreu came out of his personal shell, emerging as the team’s much-needed veteran leader in the locker room. His numbers on the field weren’t bad either, batting once for the cycle, and becoming the third player in baseball history to have 25+ HR and 100+ RBI in each of his first four seasons, joining Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio (decent company).
The Sox finished 2017 with the perfect coach for their rebuild. Rick Renteria showed that he could unite, inspire and motivate an ever-changing clubhouse throughout the season. In my opinion, Renteria helped players buy into the organization’s long-term plans. He created an environment where young, developing players could learn, thrive and when needed be encouraged. As Hahn said this weekend, I see no reason right now why Rick Renteria shouldn’t be the White Sox manager for the considerable future. Ricky’s boys do not quit!
The Sox finished 2017 with only 11 fewer losses than 2016, which is astounding considering the amount of talent they lost executing their rebuild (Sale, Eaton, Quintana, Cabrera, Frazier, Robertson, Kahnle, Swarzak). A higher draft pick would be nice, but the obvious payoff is that our young guys led us to wins late in the season, thus creating more forward momentum late in the year that could pay dividends.
And finally, the Sox finished 2017 with… hope.
As I mentioned above, the late season performances have stirred up a lot of positive energy at the big club level, and that’s not even accounting for the massive performances we saw in the minors that drew much attention.
The future is here, maybe quicker than we originally thought. 2018 will continue to bring answers to Sox fans, especially as more players continue to move up through the system. Our best hope is that the positive momentum generated late in 2017 will keep on rolling into next season, on the field, in the front office, and in the stands.
In 2016 the Twins lost 103 baseball games, in 2017 they earned a Wild Card berth in a weak American League. The White Sox, with better players in their organization, should expect no less than hanging around the Wild Card race in 2018.
April can’t get here fast enough.