[Mitch Ransdell is away from the sketch pad this week, so we are re-running his art for Burger’s POTW win last June, with a guest essay to explain his week.]
Everyone loves Jake Burger.
At first, maybe it’s because he looked like a typical White Sox fan: Gregarious, optimistic, and a bit, er, “stocky.”
But after successive Achilles tears and struggling with plantar fasciitis after the Achilles had healed — oh, and then sprinkle in a pandemic that saw Burger’s only game competition for three years being a college league in Missouri — White Sox fans have fallen in love with the narrative of Jake Burger.
He excelled last year in Charlotte — an aggressive assignment for a guy who’d played just 51 minor league games in his career, the last one four years earlier — with 18 homers, a .513 slugging percentage and .845 OPS. His fitness level had improved to such an extent that the White Sox were taking this former 3B in DH clothing and getting him some reps at second base.
And during another Yoán Moncada injury necessitating a call-up to the bigs, Burger acquitted himself quite well, hitting his first big-league homer and splashing an .807 OPS over 15 games. During that short stretch, he even took home mid-June Player of the Week honors at South Side Sox.
This year, it’s been the same gig for Burger. While he has not gotten off to as good a start in Charlotte (.213/.362/.404 in 13 games) or with the White Sox (.237/.279/.392 in 28), he’s provided some steady production with Moncada out for the first six weeks of the season. And even with Moncada back, Burger has been a holdover, chalking up a Lifetime Memory highlight with a game-winning single in extras vs. the Cubs on Sunday, in front of a boisterous home crowd.
The single capped off a superb week for Burger, with two homers, six RBIs. a .381 WPA and an eye-popping slash of .294/.368/.647. And his Player of the Week run started with his first career game in the majors at second base, proving that this ultimate team player will provide all the glue he can for a struggling Chisox club.
On a team with injuries and strife, the smile you see every day from Jake Burger doesn’t show up in the box score, but it is well appreciated.
2022 South Side Sox Players of the Week
Michael Kopech (45.9)
Dylan Cease (41.6)
Lucas Giolito (30.3)
Tim Anderson (26.2)
Luis Robert (16.9)
Andrew Vaughn (16.3)
Matt Foster (15.0)
Johnny Cueto (13.5)
Tanner Banks (12.4)
Davis Martin (10.0)
Cold Cat Standings
Leury García (-37.7)
Liam Hendriks (-23.6)
Joe Kelly (-21.9)
Aaron Bummer (-20.0)
Josh Harrison (-19.4)
Gavin Sheets (-19.0)
Kendall Graveman (-15.9)
Yasmani Grandal (-13.6)
Tony La Russa (-11.5)
Yoán Moncada (-10.8)
It’s perhaps telling that 30% of the MVP Top 10 has spent as much or more time in Charlotte this season as Chicago. Among the trailers, Dallas Keuchel falls off of the list because he’s no longer in the White Sox organization, but for the record, he departs at No. 4 on the Cold Cats list, at -20.1.
A big shake-up atop the writers’ board, as first-place mainstay and Indianapolis Field Office anchor Chrystal O’Keefe has been bumped from her customary No. 1 slot by Zach Hayes! (Well, let’s be honest, it’s the White Sox and their lousy play that sees us all struggling in the standings, but still: notable.)
If you’re interested in seeing more of Mitch’s work, or if you’d like to purchase original drawings or prints, contact him via Twitter (@soxsketcher), Instagram (@southsidesharpie), or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for supporting local artists!