White Sox could’ve used a little more from their rookie years

Back on April 25, the White Sox thumped the Rangers 8-4. Michael Kopech picked up the win by dominating in a spot start, racking up 10 strikeouts over five innings of one-run ball. Nick Madrigal went 2-for-4 with a double, two runs and two RBIs from the ninth spot, which raised his average to .308. Yermín Mercedes went 1-for-4 with a walk, which lowered his season slash line to .429/.474/.671, but was still enough to sustain his Rookie of the Month mojo.

Andrew Vaughn … did not play, but that was the part of the season where Tony La Russa limited Vaughn’s exposure to mostly tailor-made situations, to the point that every lineup tweet that didn’t include Vaughn’s name prompted its share of irked replies.

For the final P.O. Sox mailbag of the month, Steve submitted the following question:

In what order will these guys finish in the ROY voting: Mercedes, Madrigal, Vaughn, Kopech? I can see all 4 getting votes.

I changed my answer probably three or four times over 10 minutes because I could make arguments for at least three out of the four based on likely playing time post-regression, which stats they’d be the likeliest to accrue, so on and so forth. It was a good question to which I didn’t have a convincing answer. I’d look up what I actually settled on if it actually mattered.

Alas, smash-cut to Monday when the Baseball Writers Association of America released its Rookie of the Year voting, and the exercise remained theoretical.

On the surface, the White Sox getting frozen out of ROY consideration doesn’t mean a whole lot. I remember that Luis Robert finished second in last year’s race with Kyle Lewis, but I had to look up where Eloy Jiménez finished in 2019 (fourth).

It’s a little troubling that the White Sox had three different rookies set up perfectly for ROY consideration, and none of them even merited a reflexive thought. Mercedes had a supernova start and a supernova finish. Madrigal tore his hamstring then got traded. Kopech’s own hamstring injury limited him to the quiet medium-leverage life over the last three months of the season. Vaughn had the toughest set of adjustments to make, and he ultimately had to settle for treading water.

The lack of award-worthy rookie seasons contributes to the undercurrent of unease beneath what should be an otherwise solid 93-win roster. While runner-up votes don’t result in any kind of official recognition, they do symbolize the settling of a position. Jiménez’s fourth-place finish signaled that left field was his, and Robert’s silver medal cemented his spot in center. Meanwhile, an outfield corner, second base and the back end of the rotation all remain on Offseason Plan Project shopping lists because Madrigal got hurt then got dealt, and nobody else authoritatively staked their claim.

The best is probably yet to come, but everybody involved was probably hoping that the Sox would have at least one candidate on this list. A full season of Madrigal might not surpass Wander Franco for a spot on the podium, but it’d free up bandwidth and resources to tackle other problems. Instead, everybody’s going to have to think a little deeper or hope a little harder when it comes to figuring out how much the in-house solutions can actually solve.

(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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It’s almost hamstring-tear-level painful to think about what the last 4 months look like in a world where Madrigal stays healthy and puts up the season he was on pace to. Signing Semien may be the only way Hahn gets that monkey off his back.


Isn’t that kind of the point? He’s the Kyle Long of the Sox.




That question didn’t age well…


What makes it even more goofy is if the Sox did get some RoY votes it might’ve gone to sheets at the end of the season.


It all looked so promising.


While the Yermin and Madrigal results stink i think people are a little dour on Vaughn and Kopech. This was the first season in almost 2 years for Kopech and the first full professional season for Vaughn. In Vaughn’s cause he was learning a position that was a lot more athletically demanding then somewhere in the IF. They way they got flat at the end of the year just looked more like guys who were out of gas. Honestly, im more disappointed in how Eloy was pretty much a fart at the end of the year over any of the rookie results.


I mean if you are cutting Vaughn slack for getting gassed, you should probably cut Eloy some slack for coming back from a pec tear. I am surprised anyone expected his swing to be back to normal. I hope an offseason and ramp up will get Eloy back to middle of the order hitter next year.


In the case of Vaughn, I wonder what his rookie year would have looked like coming one season later, with getting only his feet wet in ’21

Trooper Galactus

He showed what he could look like with proper seasoning in July, when he posted a solid .863 OPS, then he got hurt and completely ran out of steam. His September numbers were unfathomably awful.


If he would of spent the season at AAA and not in the bigs being brutally mismanaged he would be a top 5 prospect in all of baseball. I remain extremely high on vaughn, I have no idea why so many people have pretended the jump from A ball to the bigs, the learning of multiple new defensive positions, and being in and out of the lineup for reasons unknown isnt a massive factor in some of his struggles. I think he is gonna have a big 2022. I blame Tony for using him in an odd variety of ways, and I blame Hahn for not getting enough established mlb players on the roster thus forcing the team to have to rush vaughn to the bigs.


I completely agree. I’m very high on Vaughn. I traded him (and others) for Juan Soto in my OPP, but in the real world without insane trade ideas I hope they install him in RF and spend the money on 2B, SP, RP, and depth. I absolutely do not want to see him as a DH platoon.

I thought he’d be a nice hitter as a 1B/DH type. As a cromulent OF, he could be a star.


I explored trading vaughn in my OPP just because of the glut of corner defenders on the roster but I kept thinking it was almost a sell low so instead opted to package Sheets and Burger where I felt it was more of a sell high for Brujan. I wouldnt be oppose to a vaughn deal but would definitely need a premium arm in return I kept thinking of a way to try and pry Shane Baz from the rays or Max Meyer from the Marlins… but I dont think the other teams would go for it.

Anyways I will die on the vaughn hill, I think he is gonna have a big year and career.


It is pretty known why he was in and out of lineups. He struggled against certain pitches, right handers and wore down even with partial play. The bigger issue was he rushed in the first place


If there is no way for Vaughn to get consistent playing time in 2022, he absolutely needs to be at AAA. I think he should start there regardless.


Current prospect pipeline says worry about ROY votes won’t be a Sox Fan concern for quite some time.

Trooper Galactus

Jake Burger might be worth throwing a small bet on for ROY if he’s traded someplace where he’ll get 400+ PAs.