White Sox Best of 2018
Best pitcher: Reynaldo López Although he did have his struggles, he’s been the most consistent starter from beginning to end — his finish helped put him over James Shields for me.
Best position player: Tim Anderson A respectable 20-20 season offensively with improved defense makes this a relatively easy call.
Best reliever: Joakim Soria Soria actually did a respectable job after the first week of the season. His trade created a huge void which the White Sox were, for the most part, unable to fill.
Best defender: Adam Engel He had to cover a lot of ground this year, as neither corner covered much ground. He was more consistent (and even spectacular) over the full season — the only one close is Anderson.
Favorite player: Yolmer Sanchez His Gatorade splashes at the conclusion of walk-offs helped make those times even more joyous.
Overall MVP (hitter or pitcher): Tim Anderson His combination of speed, power, and defense exceeded any of the hitters. He improved his walk rate this year (not hard to do), and I hope to see that trend continue next year.
Rookie of the Year: Daniel Palka It came down to Jace Fry and Palka. Sure, Palka strikes out frequently and isn’t skilled defensively. However, with a great weekend, he could reach 30 homers despite not getting the call up until in late April, and was arguably the most exciting player to watch this season.
Breakout star: Daniel Palka: His laser beams were sights to behold, and he also seemed to be the most clutch player on the team. Omar Narváez would be No. 2, as his power and hitting ability certainly continue to surprise me.
Best single play: For a bad team, the White Sox had their fair share of walk-offs. However, my favorite play had to be Engel’s catch of the Yankees’ Kyle Higashioka on August 8, the night after he robbed Greg Bird. Absolutely sensational!
Best single game: The Dylan Covey win over Chris Sale on June 8. It’s not because I have any particular animus toward Sale, but Covey, with an ERA of more than 7 in 2017, went head-to-head and succeeded over the Cy Young contender, with the aid of a rare hit by Trayce Thompson. Seeing the Boston Red Sox fans so quiet after the game was priceless!
Prospect you’re most excited for: The answer is easily Eloy Jiménez. However, I’m excited about the prospects of seeing Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning make it to September rosters next year, if all goes well.
Best nickname, Players’ Weekend or otherwise: Kevan Smith’s “Webb”. Not because this was cute or funny, because it was a tribute to Smith’s close friend Daniel Webb, who died during the offseason. The second choice would be Lucas Giolito’s “Big Foot,” which plays perfectly to his six-foot-six frame.
Most inspiring moment: This is a new category, but for me, this was just simply watching Danny Farquhar make the ceremonial first pitch on June 2, just over a month after his terrifying brain aneurysm. My second choice would be hitting Kevan Smith hitting his first home run on August 25 — wearing the jersey honoring Webb in the process.
Best rivalry: Tigers. Although the Tigers basically had the Sox’s number (thanks to Nick Castellanos), they’ve both done a successful job of tanking over the past couple of seasons. Here’s hoping the Sox contend for at least a wild card next year.
Eloy ETA: April 22. They could call him up as early as Monday, April 22 in order to keep him an extra year, and I believe this is what they’ll do. He’ll play three games at Baltimore, & then we should see ticket sales go up on the 25th when they play at home against the Orioles, Tigers, and Red Sox.
Favorite moment of Hawk’s broadcasting career: I still remember his call when Bo Jackson hit the game-winning homer on September 27, 1993 to clinch the AL West. Hard to believe that was 25 years ago. What a moment! Harrelson was never at his best when the Sox weren’t contending (which was quite often), but he was always as his peak when times were good.
Best promotion/innovation/development: Ahh, the unpredictable Yolmer and his Gatorade celebrations. You just never know who he’s going to douse next!
White Sox Worst of 2018
Worst pitcher: Bruce Rondón While the struggles of Miguel González were attributable to his injury and Carson Fulmer due to his inexperience and being thrust into a role he was ill-qualified for, Rondón had no such excuse, with 37 hits and 27 walks, and an 8.49 ERA and 2.16 WHIP, in his 29 2⁄3 innings of work for the White Sox. In his last 17 games, encompassing 11 2⁄3 innings, he allowed 21 hits and 19 walks, for an incredible 14.66 ERA & 3.43 WHIP! Not sure what was more embarrassing — his stats, or the White Sox keeping him as long as they did.
Worst position player: Trayce Thompson This is tough, because there was so much mediocrity. I’m not including September call-ups, as they’re just getting their feet wet. Thompson’s the most logical choice for me. In 47 games totaling 121 at-bats, he hit just .117/.162/.211 with 50 strikeouts in that short span. He did have a couple nice moments (the Sale/Covey game, and a walk-off homer) this year, but his return to the White Sox was grossly disappointing otherwise.
Worst reliever: Bruce Rondón For the reasons stated above. Plus, from everything I’ve heard, not a great teammate.
Worst defender: Omar Narváez There are a lot of choices here. You can’t go wrong with my other honorable (or dishonorable) mentions, such as Daniel Palka, Nicky Delmonico, and Matt Davidson. However, because Narváez plays in the most important position among that tandem, I’m going with him here. His framing numbers are at the bottom of the league, not to mention his 12 passed balls and seven errors despite playing just more than half of the games behind the plate.
Least favorite player: Bruce Rondón (a personal trifecta!)
Worst acquisition: Miguel González I almost went with Rondon here, but his salary was much lower than González’s. Welington Castillo was another choice for me, but at least his defense is respectable, and he still may be a guy that could be traded for something during the offseason. A 12.41 ERA & 2.43 WHIP in three starts prior to season-ending surgery didn’t justify Migo’s $4.75 million salary, money that could’ve been better spent elsewhere.
Worst single play: The at-bat on February 26, when Jake Burger busted his knee in spring training. While it didn’t affect the major league club per se, it certainly was a harbinger of injuries and difficulties to come for Alec Hansen, Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, Dane Dunning, Jimmy Lambert, Kade McClure, Michael Kopech, Corey Zangari and A.J. Puckett.
Worst single game: Many bad games, but the back-to-back games April 20-21 against the Houston Astros really stood out for me. The 20th is when the White Sox lost, 10-0, and Danny Farquhar suffered his brain aneurysm. The following day, the White Sox lost, 10-1, with Lucas Giolito giving up five hits, seven walks and nine earned runs in just two innings.
Prospect you’re most disappointed by: Evan Skoug The easier choice would be Hansen, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, as he had been battling injuries this year. Skoug, in Low-A ball, hit just .192/.283/.299 with five homers, and struck out 93 times in just 271 at-bats. He was a Top 30 prospect on MLB Pipeline to begin the year, but this offensive-minded catcher’s stats were truly offensive. Hope things turn around for him next year.
Worst moment of Hawk’s broadcasting career: If memory serves, he got into near-fisticuffs with Brewers’ manager Phil Garner one year. While I’m not a Garner fan, an announcer needs to know his place.
Worst promotion/innovation/development: The Sox going for the all-time record in strikeouts. This simply isn’t a good thing when you likely won’t have a hitter with 30 homers for the entire season.