Five September questions for White Sox regardless of call-ups

The White Sox should announce the additions to their September roster within the next several hours, but chances are they won’t change the complexion or excitement factor all that much. Luis Robert seemed to call it a season on Instagram:

There’s always some level of interest in seeing how new players fare, but none of them will shift the balance or perception of the rebuild as Year Three comes to a close. I’m actually not sure if any development can at this point, but here are five questions I’m hoping somebody can answer over the final four weeks.

Can Yoan Moncada keep it together?

Moncada is hitting .186/.234/.395 since coming off the injured list, striking out 17 times in 47 plate appearances to three walks, two of which happened Monday. This recent binge puts his strikeout rate at 28.5 percent, and I’ve long considered 28 percent the line dividing his season’s ceiling between good and great. I have no scientific reason for doing so — I just eyeballed it before the season and settled on 28 percent, and I haven’t had to adjust it. Measure once, cut once. That’s what I always say.

Moncada bounced back from a similar rough patch in May, and given his uneven switch-hitting history, he may be prone to running hot-and-cold with his swing maintenance. The Sox could use a rally out of him, because he’s one of two players who are keeping the idea of the rebuild afloat.

Can Lucas Giolito finish strong?

Giolito is the other, and only a second Freddie Freeman homer kept him from a seventh consecutive quality start. He’ll likely pass last year’s innings total (173⅔) two starts from now, and he should have three starts afterward. There are no outward signs of tiring, as he pulled himself out of a leg-related midseason fatigue funk and is throwing as hard as ever. His command seems stable as well.

Given the massive year-over-year jump, I wouldn’t blame Giolito if his numbers lost a little bit of shine in September, just because it seems like no one person should hoard all this progress. That said, if he’s having a Chris Sale season in terms of strikeout rate and hit suppression, it’d be cool to see what one looks like without the expected tail-off in September.

Can Giolito get some help?

If nothing else — and there was nothing else — credit Ross Detwiler with making points convenient. The last turn through the rotation, the non-Giolito White Sox starters averaged 2⅔ innings. On Monday, Detwiler lasted … 2⅔ innings.

Iván Nova can be forgiven, because he gave the White Sox plenty in August otherwise. Also, he’s not going to be around in 2020, and at this point, “help” means next season more than this one.

Reynaldo López has cut down on his homers, surrendering only four over his last 10 starts. That gives him a 3.76 ERA over that stretch, even if it doesn’t quite reflect his start-to-start stability. If he can shake off his disaster in Atlanta and provide more of that in September, the Sox should feel better about him having one of the five rotation spots to open next season. If this relative homer drought is the fluke and López’s ERA is closer to 6.00 than 5.00, it offsets a lot of Giolito’s gains, because the White Sox will still have three rotation vacancies to consider instead of tow.

Then again, López could have a low bar to clear because Dylan Cease hasn’t yet secured a spot of his own. He has a 6.92 ERA over 10 starts because when he turns the run spigot on, he can’t figure out how to turn it off.

  • Bases empty: .250/.314/.508, 8.6% BB, 24.3% K
  • Men on: .357/.439/.595, 11.2% BB, 19.4% K

Success from the stretch has been one of Giolito’s biggest accomplishments, lowering his OPS with runners on from .861 to .578 year over year. Maybe Giolito has something to tell Cease about that during his ongoing tutelage.

Can Tim Anderson’s defense return?

I hesitate to call Anderson a cornerstone of the rebuild because even he trails only D.J. LeMahieu in the batting race, he’s not offering a ton in areas besides bat-to-ball success. He’s striking out eight times for every walk, the stolen bases have dried up (1-for-2 in 32 second-half games), and he’s leading the league in errors.

Anderson’s been above-average despite his flaws, and while you might not expect him to hit .329 ever again, the quality of contact is loud enough to suggest he won’t cede all his gains.

The question with Anderson is what he looks like when he’s hitting .280, not .330. That’s why those other areas — particularly defense — are so important. If Anderson gains control over the entirety of his game, he can be an above-average player even with a little below-average luck. If he needs a .390 BABIP to be a difference-maker, well, the Sox have lost those bets before. And hell, even if he finds some middle ground with his fortune, his ability to make a difference is limited in a lineup where nobody makes pitchers work.

Will Eloy Jiménez have to wait until the offseason?

Like most hitters, there’s an inverse relationship between Eloy Jiménez’s ground-ball rate and his overall success. Jimenez’s just happens to be more pronounced because he leads the White Sox in grounders.

It’s the same thing with strikeouts:

Putting a dent in one of these before the end of the season would be helpful, but I’m expecting any dramatic revisions to wait until after the season, even if Jiménez thinks it can happen sooner:

“I think … no, I’m going to be a .300 guy,” said a smiling Jimenez. “This is OK for a first year. It was really tough this year because I have so many injuries.

“Then I lose some games and I lose my timing, but that is OK. I think this month is going to be good and next year is going to be better.”

At least his confidence hasn’t taken much of it a hit.

Also, updating the “Who Will Lead The White Sox in Homers?” discussion:

  1. Jose Abreu, 28
  2. Yoan Moncada, 22
    Eloy Jiménez, 22

Jiménez secured more than two-thirds of the vote before an injury caused his numbers to drop. Abreu has managed to expand his lead since.

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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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PauliePaulie

The Sox decided to keep the 2 FA “success” stories at the trade deadline. Presumably cementing their spots on the 2020 roster.

“Can McCann and Colome finish strong, or will regression continue?”, is my 6th Sept. question.

vanillablue

Anderson’s season has a very 2017 Avi Garcia feel to it.

As Cirensica

I will be very happy if TA plays Alexei’s kinda production. Thus far, he isn’t there yet.

Josh Nelson

*whispers* I agree

35Shields

That seems a little unfair. Tim averaged 1.4 WAR in the three seasons before this, Avi averaged 0. Tim’s been a productive player before and this season isn’t a crazy departure from that.

texag10

From a batted ball profile perspective, they are eerily similar. The two things that give me pause however are the higher contact % and significantly lower pull % for Timmy. Can he maintain these changes? I don’t know but there is reason to believe he can settle in closer to this year instead of prior years.

roke1960

Yes, he is using more of the field than in the past. I think he can be a consistent .270-.300 hitter. But with his very low walk rate, that only puts his OBP in the .300-.330 range. Plus his below average defense and stupid base running hurt him. He will be hard pressed to ever match this year’s offensive production, and if he doesn’t improve his defense, he is just an average player at best.

shaggy65

He’s cleared 2 WAR in 3 out of 4 seasons so far. I think it’s fair to say “average player” is his floor for the next several years, with clear upside if he cleans up his defense, continues having good BABIP luck, or learns to walk a touch more.

Josh Nelson

This is what I’m getting at. A look at Anderson’s BABIP over the years:

2016: .375
2017: .328
2018: .289
2019: .392

I don’t believe a .392 BABIP is sustainable, even for a hitter like Tim Anderson. If that drops in 2020, let’s say to .340, we could see a slash line of .279/.299/.447 from Anderson.

As Cirensica

Speaking of WAR average

Average fWAR in previous 3 seasons:

TA (26 y.o.) => 1.56
Player B (27 y.o.) => 1.73

Player B has been repeatedly belittled here and there and many don’t want him as part of the core. I honestly think TA is a much better player than Player B, but I have lower my grade on Timmy from “this is it!!!, a star SS, part of the fantastic core, untradeable!!!” to a most realistic “slightly above average SS with some potential” with Alexei Ramirez ceiling (optimistic scenario). But, I have been wrong before.

Player B is Yolmer Sánzhez.

roke1960

I would be happy with Yolmer as the back-up infielder next year (after Madrigal comes up). But at $5 million, that is too much to pay when Mendick will cost 1/10th of that. I would nontender Yolmer and then possibly resign him for $2-3 million if no one else will pay him. He just offers next to nothing offensively to be an everyday player.

As Cirensica

Yolmer still possess one of the softest hands you can find in the infield. Yolmer’s glove is better than Mendick and that has value. Also, It is not like Yolmer is a sure out.

Anyways, my comment was not to defend Yolmer but to raise awareness that TA is not as great as many ppl think he is. He ain’t bad, but he ain’t Lindor…he isn’t even Polanco. He is just slightly above average with potential.

roke1960

I would be very happy with Yolmer as the utility infielder. He could get a couple of starts per week and would thrive in that role. Just not at $5 million. And yes, Timmy made a name for himself with a great start offensively. Unless he improves his defense and walk rate, he is just an average SS.

HallofFrank

Clearly, there’s lots of work to be done on defense. But his 125 wRC+ is actually better than Lindor’s (122) and equal with Polanco’s (125). 

I’m certainly not saying TA is as good or better than those guys, but there are reasons to be optimistic that he can be. 

HallofFrank

If this is meant to draw some sort of comparison between TA and Yolmer, it is misleading.

2017: TA 0.1 fWAR; Yolmer 2.2 fWAR 
2018: TA 2.0 fWAR; Yolmer 1.7 fWAR
2019: TA 2.6 fWAR; Yolmer 1.3 fWAR

This is not to suggest TA is a finished product. But there is a good reason why Sox fans are excited about TA being an important part of the core and not Yolmer. 

As Cirensica

I never say Yolmer over Timmy. I just don’t have the hype many here have over TA. I compared TA with Polanco or Lindor because they all play SS, and a HUGE part of it is the glove, and legs. If Hahn moves TA to the outfield, I will compare him to outfielders. At the present time, TA is comparable to Adalberto Mondesí with the difference that Mondesí is 2 years younger.

HallofFrank

Isolating the 3-year fWAR averages of TA and Yolmer and suggesting any sort of similarity between the two in importance to the rebuild is at least as misleading as someone who myopically looks at TA’s offensive output in 2019 and compares him to Lindor.

I don’t think anyone around here is over-hyping TA. My feel from fans is more of a (warranted) cautious optimism. Optimism because he is 3rd (tied with Polanco) among MLB SS with a 125 wRC+ and has all the physical tools to be in that top tier of SS. Cautious because of glaring flaws, most prominently defense and plate discipline. 

I don’t see what’s so wrong with that, nor from concluding that he’s likely to be an important piece of the rebuild.

texag10

It’s also disingenuous because if we add one more full season to each player, Tim adds another 2.1 fWAR season while Yolmer adds a whopping 0.0 fWAR season. Tim will also make $4M so he’s exactly the type of player we needed during the Sale/Q/Eaton years to fill in some of the gaps on the roster. The problem right now isn’t Tim. The problem is we only have 2 “Stars” on this roster.

As Cirensica

OK…make it 4 seasons of 2 fWAR. Average of 2.0. Yolmer is a tab bit less than that.

I am starting to wonder if Hahn et Co have impacted so much the White Sox fanbase by fielding such a lousy baseball product that the moment we see a player with a 2 fWAR average many go….Oh my Gawd…. We have an elite player!!!

shaggy65

Yolmer remains criminally underrated.

Almost 2 WAR is easily worth $5 – $6 million by any objective measure. I, too, would rather he starts the year as the utility infielder who keeps the lineup steady when other guys lose a couple weeks here and there.

But the gap between him and the Rondon/Goins of the world is considerable and I’d bet money that the difference between him and 25yo “prospect” Danny Mendick is just as wide.

As Cirensica

Mendick is days away to be 26. Almost as old as Yolmer.

texag10

I mean, Ryan Goins has 0.6 fWAR in 144 ABs this year for less money than Yolmer and has a wRC+ of 100. Are any of these numbers repeatable? I don’t know. But for this season, I’d take Goins over Yolmer.

As Cirensica

No. SSS bias.

knoxfire30

Anderson has multiple tiers of questions besides how what he will look like hitting 280 not 330

Its also what will he look like making huge errors in games that matter

What will he look like when his salary begins to climb as well… (granted he still has a super friendly team deal)

I dont think TA’s value is ever going to be higher. This off season I look to move him and cash in on a lot of value I dont think will be there. Of course this is the gutsy cold hearted business deal only real teams and gms make, not teams that value losers their entire careers and guys who dump gatorade on themselves or others but really think about it. On paper good contract, middle infielder, some pop, some speed, still pretty young etc etc. But people who watch him daily, horrific errors and base running gaffes, no obp, and a likely batting average that comes back to earth next year. Not advocating giving him away but I think you can get more then he is worth , maybe a lot more Tim’s worse attributes are things the sox have in spades already.

BenjaminButton

i am open to any idea, but like most people who yell to move tim to the outfield. Or in this case another team. I gotta ask Who replaces him at SS?

roke1960

That’s very interesting. I never thought about a trade. But, of course, there’s no way Hahn is smart enough to make that move. Then they could sign Didi and put him at short. But Timmy is cheap and wouldn’t get anything near what Hahn got for the 3 trades at the start of the rebuild.
Timmy is a head case. I’m not sure that will ever change.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Gregorius is probably not going anywhere.

roke1960

I don’t think the Yanks resign him. Gleyber Torres is their shortstop of the future and LeMahieu will play second.

egib52

Agreed, and they need money for Cole.

roke1960

Yeah, the Yankess starting pitching is a mess. They will spend big money to fix that.

Right Size Wrong Shape

If they give him a QO, he’s likely to take it.

texag10

I mean, I’m not opposed to trading him but the question is where? The only team I could see that would value him as a shortstop improvement is the Reds and even then they could just as easily sign Didi if/when he hits FA. There are quite a few good+ shortstops in the league right now that Timmy doesn’t seem to hold a ton of value.

marquettepark

You are spot on Knoxfire! Trade Anderson off season. Sell high buy low. My gut says this is peak Anderson.
 Get José Inglesias (have Abreu sell him on the Sox) or Didi. As I mentioned before, sign Moustakis for depth at 3rd, 2nd and as a DH option.

roke1960

I would definitely take Moustakas. He has a mutual option with the Brewers. I would think one of the two sides would decline that.

PauliePaulie

Teams see Timmay’s batted ball profile, low walk rate and issues on defense.
Just like they saw Avi’s. He either figures it out here, or gets let go for nothing and tries again elsewhere.

marquettepark

If he gets the AL batting title, some teams will bite. Throw in some lottery tickets  ( like a Rutherford) and deal.  

Neat_on_the_rocks

Just like teams bit on Avi Garcia in 2017?

Teams aren’t stupid anymore.

As Cirensica

ehem….. I know of one

***Ducks under the table

marquettepark

Good points but Anderson does have the athleticism that Avi never possessed. That does count for something. 

texag10

I agree with the low walk rate and defensive issues but I don’t see the issue with his batter ball profile, assuming this year isn’t an anomaly. He’s above average in exit velocity, he’s spraying the ball to all fields, and he’s hitting more line drives this year. Combine that with his speed and it’s not a bad profile.

PauliePaulie

My mistake if I was wrong in thinking BABIP was a part of a players batted ball profile.

texag10

Is it extreme? Yes. But if ever there was a guy to run high BABIPs, Tim seems like the prototype this season. Hit the ball fairly hard? Check. Great speed? Check. Primarily hit line drives and ground balls? Check. Spray the ball to all fields? Check. Can he maintain it? Probably not but the underlying skills are there to run high BABIPs going forward.

PauliePaulie

I don’t think he’s some sort of unicorn hitter. Per the fangraphs article linked above, the things he’s done at the plate this year are nearly impossible to compare to any season in the history of baseball. I see zero chance of a repeat with his current approach.

Amar

I would be opposed to trading TA, because even if his trade value is peak, I can’t think of team willing to give up MLB-ready player(s) for him. Yeah get more prized prospects to make sure the farm system stays ranked in the top 10, but fuck that.

Neat_on_the_rocks

The thing is if you’re going around to other teams trying to trade Tim Anderson, they know as well as you do why you’re trying to trade him.

The sox tried and failed to trade Avi Garcia in 2017 for this reason.

There is no way the Whitesox get a high enough return for Anderson to justify trading him, especially when they have literally nobody at Shortstop in the pipeline to back him up.

lil jimmy

I think Gio does not make five more starts. Maybe three more, and they shut him down. They will say,” career high totals” blah, blah blah. In truth, September is for losing, and he stands in the way of losing.

roke1960

For Rick Hahn, April-September stands for losing.

lil jimmy

What I would like, Cut Beef today, and give all of his time to Collins. That would be an excellent use of the remaining games.

BenjaminButton

nah, makes too much sense.

GoGoSoxFan

WSB 2017-2019: “Every month is September”.

Amar

The 7th pick is in reach!

lil jimmy

the 5th pick is in reach! Don’t think small!

Amar

i know, why have a rebuild that lasts only 3 years when you can have one that lasts …

roke1960

Collins, Mendick, Palka, Covey called up. Now give Collins everyday at bats.

marquettepark

Yes, give Collins everyday at bats. DFA Costillo but that’s asking too much. Covey called up to ensure we get past that 90 loss total. ?  Good for Mendick, a 22 round pick who will have lifetime health insurance. Congratulations

texag10

Oh good, Palka and Covey are back. Hooray.

roke1960

They’re hoping to get Palka’s average below .010.

marquettepark

Touché 

texag10

I mean, just how negative does wRC+ go?

roke1960

Palka’s wRC+ is currently -42. I didn’t know it went that low.

roke1960

How do you create negative runs?

As Cirensica

Because Palka’s Weighted Runs Above Average, when compared to the league’s average is atrocious.

texag10

Yeah, I noticed that about a month ago. Say what you want about Yonder, at least his was positive.

shaggy65

Where is Mercedes? All the guy has done at every level is hit! We’re gonna get cute and lose him in Rule 5 this year and regret it.

roke1960

Absolutely. Platooning him and Collins at DH would be such an improvement over what we’ve had to put up with at DH this year (Alonso, Castillo, Skole…).

yinkadoubledare

Eh, we can dump a number of guys and put Mercedes on the 40. If this means they’re gonna commit to giving Collins plenty of looks, I’m for it.

roke1960

Palka hitting 7th, Collins DH hitting 9th.

ForsterFTOG

Why is Hahn still here?
Why is Kenny still here?
Why is Renteria still here?
Why is Castillo still here?
Why am I still here?

As Cirensica

You can only control the last one

roke1960

We’re all here because we have that strange disorder called Sox Fan. I have no idea why the top 4 are still here.

roke1960

I’m here because I value all the insight that all of you bring to this site. We may disagree on things, but we are all passionate Sox fans who want to see them win. I wonder what it will be like here if the Sox actually get a championship caliber team?

Gutteridge70

Yep.

asinwreck

Because Jerry is still here.

GoGoSoxFan

This.

Amar

I mentioned this on the other site, but I thought I’d weigh in here as well. Despite TA’s shortcomings and the Avi like season he is currently having, he could crack 10 bWAR at the end of this season, which is no small feat if the player was drafted by the White Sox. Aside from Sale, I can’t think of a player the Sox drafted in recent years that produced at least 10 bWAR in the first four seasons. I don’t think he’s quite the all-star yet, but he’s delivered.

I agree with Jim and others that of course that TA will eventually have to address his defensive shortcomings, and yes learn to walk, if he likely regresses to hitting 280 something. But I’m confident that TA is ready to put the work in.

shaggy65

What does it take for this fanbase to be satisfied with a player? This “4 WAR or show him the door” attitude must be a very frustrating place to live. The team has no chance of meeting your expectations.

Every player has room to improve, but let’s face it guys–TA is actually good.

roke1960

Timmy is certainly one of the least problems the Sox have now. But he is being considered one of the cornerstones of this franchise’s rebuild. He can be that- but he needs to improve defensively. A .280-.300 hitting shortstop with 20+ HRs is good. Now he needs to dramatically cut down on his errors and prove that this year’s offense is not a fluke. If he does, he will be just fine.

texag10

I bet if we traded him to Oakland, he’d win a gold glove in 2 years and that’s just sad.

PauliePaulie

But McEwing has been coaching him. And Hawk says McEwing could be a great manager someday!

Gutteridge70

Not supposed to use double negatives in one comment

Amar

Uh, I agree with you man, not sure why you thought otherwise.

shaggy65

I know–I was jumping on your bandwagon!

Amar

my bad

roke1960

How much was years of team control a consideration with timing the promotions of Luis Robert & Nick Madrigal?

Hahn: “None”

What a liar!!

PauliePaulie

You prefer he admits to breaking the CBA?

There’s a lot to knock him for. You do it every post. But c’mon.

roke1960

Sorry, it’s just in my blood now. But if he signs Cole or Rendon this winter, I’ll be the first one to praise him!

egib52

After being at the helm through such an atrocious stretch of White Sox teams he should not be lying to the fans. He could of said he can’t comment. He could of said they both had long seasons and are mostly healthy, and that is a win at this stage. Both comments would have been true without being a bold faced lie.

asinwreck

You know how the 1989 Sox had a terrible record, but made significant gains after the All-Star Break (playing almost .500 ball the rest of the way) as young players like Sammy Sosa, Bobby Thigpen, Greg Hibbard, & Lance Johnson learned on the job and made substantial development gains that would really pay off in 1990?

Yeah, this isn’t the story of the 2019 White Sox after the All-Star break. If they are going to lose 7-8-9 in a row, not using the games to give important prospects experience seems like a waste of time. (Which is continuity for Reinsdorf’s organizations the past six years or so.)