The 2023 season has not played out the way the White Sox hoped it would. The team has been inconsistent, slow, and, at times, completely lifeless.
Lately, however, solid performances from Jake Burger, a resurgent Tim Anderson, and free-swinging top prospect Oscar Colás have ignited a modest spark in this once-stagnant group of position players.
Still, uninspiring offensive performances from key regulars in the starting nine have doused any hope of this lineup catching fire. Weak showings from names like Elvis Andrus (58 OPS+), Gavin Sheets (82 OPS+), and any of the three catchers on this team’s active roster have created an offensive void that sucks away the air needed to turn any spark into a full-blown flame. With the team poised to sell at the upcoming trade deadline, they have no use for middling performance from iffy veterans.
What this team needs is a spark plug.
This team needs José Rodríguez.
Once considered a hit-first prospect with fringy speed and below-average raw power potential, Rodriguez has defied scouts and absolutely mashed for the Double-A Birmingham Barons this year. He is currently in the top five in the Southern League with 14 home runs, and has hit four homers in his past 11 games. During that time, he’s also added four steals and has established himself as one of the most dynamic power/speed combinations in the White Sox minor league system.
On the subject of speed, the South Siders have been fairly pedestrian on the basepaths this year despite rule changes designed to encourage and reward teams that take advantage of speed. The White Sox are currently tied for seventh-worst in stolen bases in the majors, having stolen only 56 bags so far. Last year, Rodríguez accounted for 40 stolen bags by himself in Double-A (at an 80% success rate), showing a prowess and aggression on the basepaths that has been largely absent from the big-league club to this point in 2023.
While José did earn a small cup of coffee in the majors last month, he has shown that he is deserving of an extended look on a White Sox team that can benefit from his uniquely explosive skill set. He could well add life to a team that has languished in mediocrity throughout the entire 2023 campaign.