Going into the 2021 MLB All-Star break, the Chicago White Sox have had many unsung and unexpected heroes that have helped them to 54 wins and an eight-game lead in the American League Central. That is the biggest division lead of anybody going into the second half, and the third-biggest lead in franchise history (in the 162-game era).
2000 - 10.5 games— Slavko Bekovic (@SBekovic) July 11, 2021
2005 - 9.0 games
2021 - 8.0 games
2012 - 3.0 games
1977 - 2.5 games
1967 - 2.0 games https://t.co/msBrnmN0gL
At the beginning of the season, if you’d said that the White Sox would be going into the break with that many wins and the third-best record in baseball despite missing significant time from the likes of key players such as Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, Adam Engel and Michael Kopech anyone would have probably thought you were crazy.
Yet, here we are.
Unsung players, from veterans Carlos Rodón, Leury García and Brian Goodwin to rookie Andrew Vaughn, have stepped up for the White Sox so far this season — with Rodón even being named to his first All-Star team.
Rodón’s 7-3 record to go with a 2.31 ERA, 0.96 WHIP 3.6 WAR and a .186 opponents batting average with 130 strikeouts in 89 2⁄3 innings is one of the best stories in all of baseball. The southpaw also threw a no-hitter on April 14 at home versus Cleveland.
You can say that Rodón has not only been having a career and All-Star type year, but one can even argue a Cy Young-like year so far as well. Quite a turnaround for someone the White Sox non-tendered back in December before bringing back on a friendly, one-year deal in February.
A career utility player, but a great one at that, nine-year veteran Leury García, has proven to be quite the asset for the White Sox so far in 2021. As he has played every position on the field except for catcher and first base over his 73 games. His 39 RBIs are surprisingly tied for second on the team. Not coincidentally, García has been super-clutch for the South Siders., with a .359/.413/.594 slash line to go with a homer, and 35 of his 39 RBIs coming with RISP.
Veteran outfielder Brian Goodwin, who was signed to a minor league contract on May 5 after being released by the Pirates, has been quite the steal for the White Sox, too. His 24 hits in 25 games to go with eight doubles, four home runs and 15 RBIs in just 90 at-bats are quite remarkable for someone who wasn’t even on the team at the beginning of the year. His great play since joining the White Sox is one of many key factors on why they DFAd veteran Adam Eaton at the end of the first half.
Rookie Andrew Vaughn, who struggled to start the season, has really turned things around since figuring out his swing. His two home runs in the White Sox’s 7-5, extra innings victory this past Sunday in the first half finale shows how much he has truly turned things around.
Mash baseballs. Round the bases. It's what he does. pic.twitter.com/Ub0GLQ8kiH— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 11, 2021
Vaughn goes into the second half with a solid .360/.393/.680 slash line and four homers to go with nine RBIs and a steal in his last 15 games, moving his slash line up to .253/.320/.452 for the year. Expected to be a DH before Jiménez’s injury. Vaughn was also thrust into the starting left field spot, where he has played pretty solid despite never playing the position before.
If the White Sox can get even close to this sort of production from their unsung heroes, it bodes well for a postseason berth and deep playoff run.
Look back at the first half, who has been the White Sox’s most unsung hero so far?
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