Tag Archives: Avisail Garcia

The Math is Out for the 2018 White Sox

By Cat Garcia

It’s quite fitting that in the dead of winter, with Chicago on the verge of a weekend long snowstorm that will render the city buried under up to a foot of snow, Baseball Prospectus’ annual PECOTA projections were released.

BP’s PECOTA projections offer fans a calculated look at the season ahead and often give something to keep their baseball-deprived minds occupied; something fans need during one of the most historically slow offseasons baseball has seen in years.

This year’s projections for the 2018 Chicago White Sox are not excellent but, given the team’s status as dead-center of a rebuilding process, not much more was to be expected.

PECOTA shows the Southsiders finishing in third place in the AL Central with a 73-89 record, just behind the Minnesota Twins and the Cleveland Indians. Not much of a surprise there, as the Indians have been on a tear in recent years while Minnesota has made additions to their roster this offseason that significantly improve their outlook on the 2018 season (at least in the dilapidated landscape of the AL Central). PECOTA still only has the Twins projected at 81-81–as a second place team.

However, PECOTA did bury a few interesting surprises in their individual player projections. Here are the top five most notable projections for the White Sox.

Yoan Moncada — .233/.330/.410 – 20 HR – 96 RBI – 2.1 WARP

Though what the White Sox saw from Moncada during his 2017 Southside debut was a bit of a rough-and-tumble start plagued with untimely injury, the projections for Moncada in 2018 seem tepid at best. It’s well-understood that Moncada’s main difficulty is his elevated strikeout rate, as he posted a swinging strike rate of 12.6 percent in 2017 (though it should be noted that he lowered that from the 17.2 percent he posted in Boston). If he can make decent contact, a projection of 20 home runs could be a bit low given that PECOTA has Moncada slated for 577 plate appearances. Moncada is also projected for a 2.1 WARP–the second-highest projection on the team behind friend and countryman Jose Abreu. While that number is likely helped out by his flashy range and fielding ability, Moncada’s first full season in the big leagues is given quite the seal of approval with a number like that.

Avisail Garcia — .275/.329/.427 – 17 HR – 72 RBI – 1.6 WARP

These projections for Avisail Garcia feel like a perfect middle ground between tempering expectations and not letting Garcia’s disappointing past follow too closely behind him. Though Garcia posted an extremely high BABIP of .392 to prop up his monster 2017 season, there were certainly flashes of improvement that lent themselves to the idea that these numbers might hold water. After all, Garcia did lower his strikeout rate by 5.6 percentage points from 2016 to 2017, showed vast improvements in his previously poor defensive skills, and made it to his first All-Star Game. Though his efforts in 2017 were quite unsustainable going forward, even the vast drop off from those numbers to what PECOTA sees him as this season would be an extreme upgrade from the fate he once held for his future.

Eloy Jimenez — .255/.329/.427 – 6 HR – 19 RBI – 0.1 WARP

Considering PECOTA has Jimenez totalling only 68 plate appearances during his first stint in the majors, these are pretty lofty numbers. Then again, most wouldn’t expect any less out of the gate from a player with the persistence and success of Jimenez. There is always a game of adjustments when a new young prospect arrives in the majors but, in this case, it’s likely going to be the league that needs to adjust to Jimenez. Of course, that will fizzle as it always does. Once the league figures Jimenez out he will have to make more adjustments of his own and he, much like many highly touted prospects, will be proven mortal—even if just for a short time. But posting 19 RBIs in just 68 plate appearances is quite the scorching start, one that’s sure entertain a fanbase that will be in desperate need of a sign that the future is still very bright for this White Sox team.

Nicky Delmonico — .246/.232/.434 – 16 HR – 56 RBI – 1.6 WARP

PECOTA has certainly tempered their expectations of Delmonico for the 2018 season, but one would have to assume that everyone else has as well. After a record-breaking start to a rejuvenated major league career (Delmonico almost didn’t come back to baseball after being granted his release from the Brewers), Delmonico holds a bit of promise that he can add a solid switch hitting bat to this lineup and eventually, to this team’s bench. Delmonico was notorious for his plate patience during his White Sox debut, walking 13.9 percent of the time, which lends itself to a solid foundation for success. If the power can stay while Delmonico continues his quest to drive the ball up the middle of the field, perhaps these projections aren’t extremely overzealous — but I wouldn’t hold my breathe just yet.

Lucas Giolito — 160 IP – 4.47 ERA – 1.38 WHIP – 163 SO – 67 BB – 26 HR

PECOTA doesn’t seem to have much faith in Giolito’s ability to strike batters out this season. These projections have Giolito striking out approximately one batter per inning, which seems low even for those most dubious of spectators. Giolito managed to strike out 6.75 batters per nine during his 45 inning stint on the Southside in 2017, while keeping his walk rate at a respectable 2.38 per nine. PECOTA seems to show Giolito having similar numbers in the way of walks, as well as home runs per inning as he did in 2017, which isn’t completely unrealistic in a hitter friendly ballpark such as Guaranteed Rate Field. While Giolito has made it vehemently clear that he intends to get to the 200 inning mark in 2018, let’s face it, the only pitchers who were able to do that in 2017 were guys such as Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Gio Gonzalez and Marcus Stroman—all who have a good amount of years as starters under their belt and are considered to be some of the leagues top arms. Even Justin Verlander only topped out at 206 innings in 2017.

Anderson Ready for 2018

To say that 2017 was a tumultuous season for White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson would be a bit of an understatement. After starting his career under much trepidation as to whether or not the late-bloomer would stick at shortstop, he came into 2017 with something to prove—that all of that trepidation was simply unwarranted.

But, in an unexpected turn of events, the then 23 year-old Anderson suffered the tragic loss of his best friend, Brandon Moss. who was gunned down in early May in his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

“He was very close to me. More so, a brother. We’re talking seven years of a great relationship. He’s my baby’s God-Dad. I was his a daughter’s God-Dad. It was that type of bond.” Anderson told the media in May.

We often lose sight of the fact that baseball is just a game and, for people such as Anderson, a job. Off-the-field incidents are carried into the fabric of everyday life which, for Anderson, was during the start of arguably the most important year of his young, budding career.

Anderson’s numbers suffered as a result of the tragedy. During the first half of the season, Anderson hit a paltry .240/.263/.369 and committed a record 28 errors on the season. The second-highest fielding error total for the White Sox belonged to Avisail Garcia, who committed only 9 errors in 2017.

Anderson eventually sought help through the work of counselling and the mentorship of the White Sox organization and, by the second half of the season, the team began to see a break-out. Anderson was batting a much healthier .276/.292/.440 with 10 stolen bases and 8 home runs in the second half, and he was clearly on the road to recovery. He was out to prove that the Anderson that showed flashes brilliance during the 2016 season was not far in his rearview mirror.

“They’ve been there for me since that happened, it’s just a great group of guys and an awesome coaching staff and front office, you know they supported me,” Anderson said of the White Sox organization. “They know I’ve been through a lot, it’s just great to have them in my corner and be there for me.”

If the end of the season wasn’t enough to convince you that Anderson was on the path to getting back to his everyday self, seeing the 24 year-old at SoxFest this past weekend certainly reaffirmed any doubts one might have. Rejuvenated, showing off his signature infectious smile, and voicing his enthusiasm for the coming season, Anderson gave off the vibes of a brand new person; strengthened by the trials he’d faced so early in his major league career.

“It’s just, I’m excited about the season, you know,” Anderson said, gazing into the distance as though he was already envisioning the warm breezy nights that are soon to be on deck at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I’m going to go and do what I’m supposed to do and just the ultimate goal is to have fun. I wasn’t having fun last year, it was tough. It flushed me, but you know, I’m back and I feel great.”

“Tim Anderson’s not a finished product, “ General Manager Rick Hahn said during media sessions on Friday afternoon. “Carlos Rodon is not a finished product, despite being in the big leagues for a couple years. It’s part of the reason Ricky [Renteria] and the coaching staff is perfectly suited for this process. They’re all teachers, they all have roots in player development.

“I already knew that,” Anderson said of Hahn’s remark, accompanied by a confident smirk. “I know that the sky’s the limit for me, man. I do everything the right way and treat people the right way so it’s just a matter of time. Just keep working, just keep going. Things will happen, it’s going to be a great season, we got a great group of guys and we’re ready.”

Anderson’s struggles last season were certainly not vain. He understands that in a quickly changing landscape for this team that had been ushering in new young players nearly every week last season, with more to arrive this season, he will be taking on the role of a leader and mentor in 2018. And he’s welcoming that new and exciting challenge with open arms.

“That’s something I’ve definitely thought about,” Anderson said of becoming a clubhouse leader. “You know it’s a new year, I feel great. Man, it’s gonna be great.” Anderson said, as though he was realizing the depths of his excitement right before our eyes. “I’m doing more things, I’m opening up, talking more, so it’s gonna be great to see you know how this year goes with me being vocal and being that leader. I’m excited about it and I’m ready to lead these guys.”

Those comments are a far cry from the lowlights baseball saw from Anderson in 2017. Anderson’s story of success in 2018 will stretch far beyond the numbers and flashy plays on the diamond. His ability to persevere in the face of adversity and tragedy will help him become an example not just to his teammates, present and future, but to many onlookers and fans of the White Sox’s cornerstone “grinder” culture. The moto is that “Ricky’s boys never quit”, and Anderson has quickly become the poster child of that sentiment.

2017 White Sox Top Five

Despite being in likely the grittiest phase of a rebuild and finishing the season with the second worst record in the American League, White Sox fans have echoed the same sentiment—this has been one of the most exciting 60-win teams to watch grow.

The departure of names such as Chris Sale and Jose Quintana have been harsh realities but the arrival of fresh blood and new leaders in the clubhouse seemed to quickly erase those wounds. Let’s take a look at the top five surprises from the South Side in 2017.

Nicky Delmonico’s record breaking arrival

After a nasty collision with newcomer Yoan Moncada landed Willy Garcia on the disabled list with a fractured jaw on July 31st, the stop-gap recalled from Charlotte was infielder/outfielder Nicky Delmonico. Delmonico was making his major league debut at the age of 25 after a rough road with the Brewers coupled with personal struggles. But, what Delmonico did, was deliver the next chapter of an already unpredictably compelling season. Delmonico hit his first home run off Cy Young winner Rick Porcello at Fenway Park just three days after his call-up. He reached base in 13 straight games, garnered a few multi-hit campaigns, and hit six home runs in his first 19 games. Sadly, Delmonico was then placed on the DL with a sprained wrist, but the minds of Sox fans were simply sent reeling. Delmonico was yet another unexpected and extremely entertaining piece in this 2017 season and looks to be a solid addition to the White Sox outfield contingent in 2018.

Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu’s Impactful Seasons

The need for strong, diligent leadership in was crucial this season and though first baseman Jose Abreu’s role in the White Sox clubhouse was already quite established, Abreu reached new levels of achievement in 2017. From becoming a fourth-year veteran and joining Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols as just the third player in MLB history to hit 25+ home runs and 100+ RBIs in his first four seasons to guiding fellow countryman Yoan Moncada through the start of his big league career, Abreu’s voice was heard and his impact felt on the field and off the field throughout the season. As the longest tenured position player on the team, outfielder Avisail Garcia, who had been known for his struggles during his career, not only began to flourish on the field, but also invigorated a young fresh clubhouse by example. Though both Abreu’s and Garcia’s future with the club may not be certain, the impression that they will leave during this immensely important stage in this team’s development was not only serendipitous in timing, but will leave a strong lasting impression on this team as they continue to grow together — and perhaps even apart.

Reynaldo Lopez’s Early Struggles

After the success of number one prospect Yoan Moncada’s arrival on the scene, everything seemed to be rolling along perfectly as the White Sox continued giving fans a glimpse of their future in calling up Reynaldo Lopez, who was simply the secondary piece in the deal that sent Adam Eaton to the Nationals last December. Lopez dazzled, hitting as high as 99 on the gun during his White Sox debut coupled with exceptional break on his curveball. Lopez wasn’t without his blemishes though, his command seemed shaky and that continued down the road, with Lopez walking 14 batter over 47 innings, closing his season with a 4.72 ERA and 7 homers allowed. Lopez left what was just his second start with the White Sox suffering a strained back and was placed on the DL for two weeks before returning to the rotation. Although Lopez’s debut was less than superb in the eyes of many, taking into consideration the short duration of his time on the big league roster, suffering an injury, and still having less than 100 major league innings under his belt — Lopez’s stuff showed much promise for the future.

Loss and Gain

It was a rough summer on the South Side, day after day watching players pack up their lockers while fresh faces arrived. As is the case with any strong rebuild, those faces weren’t always emerging in the major league clubhouse. The Sox saw the departure of everyone from David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, to those defined as leaders in Melky Cabrera and Todd Frazier, and players they considered part of their bright future such as Jose Quintana. But the rewards reaped from these deals should leave this team hopeful as they saw the arrival of players such as Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito, all whose rapid progress and success during 2017 no doubt caught many folks by surprise.

Alec Hansen’s Success

While we talk so much about the success of players acquired through trades of significant measure, let’s not forget those that came simply at the cost of an educated gamble. Drafted 49th overall in the second round of the 2016 draft, the White Sox’s selection of pitcher Alec Hansen led to some justified skeptics. Hansen struggled during his junior year of college and still struggles with commanding his pitches, but has come onboard and simply dazzled during his short time in the White Sox organization. Hansen lead the minors this season in strikeouts with 191, and was promptly promoted to Double-A Birmingham after posting a 2.93 ERA with 83 strikeouts in just 58 IP at Winston-Salem. Hansen’s main attribute is his fastball that sits between 94-97 mph, coupled with a strong slider and curveball, and is currently working to perfect his changeup in the coming season.

With An Eye Toward the Future

As the season winds down for the White Sox, a few of the younger bats have been heating up. Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, and Yolmer Sanchez have all been on a run in the final weeks of the 2017 season. They’ve been the kind of runs that, coupled with the continued stellar production from Avi Garcia and Jose Abreu, make you wonder about just how quickly the White Sox rebuild can take shape.

Anderson’s first four months were tough, to say the least. What he had to deal with off the field was tragic and well-documented. In August, once he was able to start sleeping and dealing with the death of his best friend—a brother, nearly—Anderson’s performance on the field began to come around.

He’s picked up 30 points in batting average from August 1st to now. In 41 games, he’s slashed .320/.331/.543 and reminded most of his rookie campaign.

As for Moncada, Jose Abreu has helped in ways other than lineup protection. Although Abreu hitting behind Moncada and doing his best impression of a wrecking ball (.337/.380/.639 over the last two months) can’t hurt. Abreu suggested that Moncada use a lighter bat. A new shipment of lumber arrived for the White Sox rookie in time for the four-game series against the Royals on September 11th.

Since, Moncada has hit .448 over six games. He’s hit two homers and a triple. He’s driven in six and registered multi-hit games in four of the six. Quite simply, he’s been the sensation White Sox fans and front office alike were hoping for.

Yolmer Sanchez, who’s often been one of the younger players at whatever level of the minors he’s competed at, has shown enough extra-base pop to open eyes. His plate discipline has improved by quite a stretch as well. Through his first 687 MLB plate appearances, his OBP sat at .261. This season it seems regular playing time has benefited the 25 year-old infielder. His OBP is up a full 40 points (.320) and he’s added 11 home runs for good measure.

White Sox manager Ricky Renteria has been quick to say that while Sanchez may not be the double-digit home run type in the future, he’s a big proponent of what Yolmer adds defensively—especially at third.

Each of these three players are, to differing degrees, important to the rebuild. Moncada may very-well be the face of the transition. Anderson, perhaps, a potential steadying force. Sanchez, a meaningful bonus. Regardless of import, we’ll watch each try and carry hot finishes into the start of the 2018 season.

Updates on a Few Injured Sox

The White Sox family expanded by one today—and not in the form of a new player being promoted.

Avisail Garcia and his wife welcomed the couple’s second child Thursday, a boy that they have named simply “Avi.”

Garcia, who was not in the White Sox lineup on Thursday in anticipation of the birth of his child, will likely be ready to go for tomorrow’s series opener against the Detroit Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“I know, had we been out of town, he probably would take his [paternity] leave,” Manager Rick Renteria said of Garcia. “But it seems like he might be able and available for us tomorrow, so we’ll play it by ear.”

“I’m going to give him as much time as he needs,” Renteria said. “If he wants to come in late to be able to come out and play tomorrow night I’ll do that. Anything I can do to accommodate, whatever he wants to do to allow him to be here with us.”

Since Garcia was reinstated from the disabled list, he has been on a tear in the month of August, hitting .420/.455/.500. He’s only struck out nine times in 50 at-bats.

“His at-bats have been pretty good,” Renteria said. “Yesterday he ended up driving a ball to the right side that was a pretty good pitch, he’s looked fine.”

White Sox catcher Geovany Soto is still on the road to recovery after being placed on the 60-day DL in May while he underwent arthroscopic elbow debridement surgery.

“Physically everything is 100% inside the arm, they’re just kind of waiting on the healing and on the process of strengthening so that’s where I’m at right now,” Soto said on Thursday.

“We still have to see how everything responds and everything has been going great. So, I just want to feed off of that and just worry about that right now.”

Soto is not currently participating in baseball activity and is mainly working on strengthening his arm in anticipation of his return to play.

Despite his lack of time spent on the field, Soto has been keeping a close eye on White Sox’s progression lately, and still looks for ways to contribute inside the clubhouse.

“We’ve got great guys here, the most important is that they come up here and they want to learn,” Soto said of the recent influx of new young talent, particularly pitchers. “They want to get with the program, and a lot of them look for help and it’s really refreshing to see. We’re here to help them and guide them. I’ve been around and every time they come home I try to help them out, give them my two cents whatever the situation might be to try to help them.”

After 13 years in the majors, Renteria knows that despite Soto’s playing time this season, he is still able to serve as a strong veteran catching leader.

“Obviously his experience, his time, conversations when he’s watching catchers take the hitter through a particular sequence, once they come in [he might] share with them the confirmation that they did a nice job,” Renteria said of Soto.

“[He offers] validation as to what [hitters] did in that particular situation or [he might] talk them through something that they might have done a little differently in order to help a pitcher through,” Renteria continued. “He’s been around, he can see things from the dugout, he can see what the catchers are doing he can see what the pitchers are doing and just continue to relate and have conversations [with players].”

No time table has been set for Soto’s return.

Matt Davidson has began in rehab assignment with the Charlotte Knights, after a rainout on Wednesday, Davidson started as a the designated hitter in the makeup game on Thursday afternoon. He went 0-3 with three strikeouts against Norfolk. Davidson is currently rehabbing the injury he sustained after taking a pitch off the wrist from Marcus Stroman, and was placed on the DL on August 4 for a bruised wrist.

Garcia Hits the DL, Sox Send Swarzak to Milwaukee

After a scorching start that gave many South Siders hope for his future, White Sox All-Star right fielder Avisail Garcia will hit the DL with a ligament strain in his right thumb. Garcia said the issue has been bothering him for about a week now and, as he continued to play through it, he realized it was an issue that needed to be addressed.

“It’s been like this one week and getting worse, worse, worse,” Garcia said before Wednesday’s Crosstown Classic took the stage at Guaranteed Rate Field. “So, that’s why I decided to stop because my swing is not the same and I don’t want to keep playing like this.”

White Sox GM Rick Hahn made the announcement prior to Wednesday’s game, and said that it should sideline Garcia for “a couple of weeks.” The injury doesn’t look to require surgery at this time.

“At this point there’s no indication whatsoever that he needs a procedure,” Hahn said. “It’s just a matter of letting the thumb heal and getting him back out there.”

Garcia pointed out his recent struggles and attributed them to the lingering injury. “You could see yesterday, 0-for-5,” Garcia said about Tuesday’s matchup at Wrigley Field.

“I’ve been swinging too much with my shoulders. Trying to force it. I don’t have to force it,” Garcia said. “If something’s wrong I have to stop because I want to help my team. I don’t want this to happen. But it happened. That’s baseball. Anything can happen so I’ve just got to take care of this and be back and ready.”

Garcia is coming off the first All-Star selection of his career and a strong campaign in which he was hitting .303/.347/.485 with a career-tying 13 home runs. He was also was sporting the highest wRC+ of his career at 121.

The White Sox will be making a corresponding roster move with Garcia headed for the DL which will be announced either Wednesday evening or Thursday.

The familiar faces in the South Side clubhouse continue to dwindle as the trade deadline nears with the most recent departure coming on Tuesday evening. The White Sox sent reliever Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for outfield prospect Ryan Cordell.

“We feel we picked up another interesting prospect in Ryan,” Hahn said of the acquisition. “Scouts are very enthusiastic about his ability, his diverse skill set. He’s got some power, some speed, some versatility on the field, can play all three outfield positions. He does have some history of playing some third base as recently as this year. And he’s going to provide us with an intriguing player here in the coming months,” he continued.

Cordell is currently on the disabled list with a back strain that will likely keep him from seeing action right away.

“We’re going to have him examined by our doctors in Chicago, but we feel like this is probably going to take another few weeks to resolve,” Hahn said. “And there’s a chance that we don’t see him in action till closer to instructional league. But in terms of long-term prognosis, this injury should be a non-factor in his development, and we look forward to having him in action.”

Swarzak, who had a spectacular final outing as a member of the White Sox at Wrigley Field on Monday in which he struck out two batters and walked one, was one of the final remaining pieces in the White Sox bullpen which now only has two members that were present on the Opening Day roster.

“Yeah, it’s a little sad, when you see friends and teammates go,” reliever Dan Jennings said of the recent bullpen depletion. “You don’t want to sit here and say it’s the end of the road because we still have a lot of games to play and we’re still going to do our best to win every game.”

Swarzak certainly was deemed a valuable asset this season for a team looking for a closer such as the Brewers. In 48 innings of work this season, Swarzak put up a 2.23 ERA with a nearly-matching 2.34 FIP. He was striking out 9.68 batters per nine, walking just 2.41, and had allowed just two home runs.

A familiar face returned to the clubhouse Wednesday as reliever Jake Petricka was activated from the disabled list to help shore up the White Sox bullpen. Petricka has been on the DL since June 29 with a right elbow strain.

“It has been a mental grind especially with the hip injury last year,” Petricka said of his string of injuries. “So, if anything, I’ve just learned a lot more about myself off the field then on the field. And now it’s time to re-establish myself on the field.”

Petricka was not scored on over five outings during his rehab assignment at Triple A Charlotte. “It felt really good. A lot better command and just everything was very good,” Petricka said of his rehab assignment.

Manager Rick Renteria noted that he will be using Petricka in later innings to help fill the gap left by the departure of Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson and now Swarzak.

“Obviously, Petricka has been used in the past in many different roles from kind of a fireman role to a setup to closer,” Renteria said. “So we’re just going to kinda slot these guys where we think we can use them. Obviously everybody is available to us in different situations, we have an opportunity right now to show what they’re capable of doing.”

Notes at the Break

Each baseball season brings a clean slate in April and, by mid-July, sometimes the world feels as though it’s been turned upside down. That seems to be the case this season, especially for a young group of South Siders, who have found themselves in the midst of a season that was suppose to propel them into “total rebuild mode” full of lows, yet hasn’t been without it’s fair share of highs.

As we enter into the official second half of the 2017 season this weekend — let’s take a look at the three most surprising outcomes the White Sox have witnessed over the first half of the season.

All-Star Avi

Coming into the season, White Sox fans had heard the same tale over again. Avisail Garcia looks good, he’s lost some weight, he’s going to have a breakout year. The tape felt broken and so did White Sox fan’s hope for any sort of success out of the promising Venezuelan star entering his age 26 season.

But as it stands at the All-Star Break, Garcia has flourished, showing the longest stretch of consistency the White Sox have seen out of him since he came to the South Side. He’s in the top 10 of AL hitters (min. 300 PA) in batting average, and in the top 20 in OBP and slugging percentage. He’s also sporting his lowest strikeout rate since 2012. The downside? Garcia is clinging tightly to that high BABIP of .371, indicating that a lot of the production that the White Sox are seeing from Garcia could be chalked up to good luck. The good luck has lasted, however. Garcia also has the second lowest walk rate on the team, at just 4.1 percent. But hey, it’s working!

Kahnle Reinvented

Let’s keep in mind that now superstar bullpen arm Tommy Kahnle didn’t even break camp with the White Sox this season. His control issues continued to rear their ugly head, but due to injury to Sox righty Jake Petricka, Kahnle found himself called up in the midst of making a few noteworthy changes on the mound that lead to huge success. Kahnle always had the heat, he just wasn’t able to harness it. He claims he moved his head toward home plate during his delivery, made a few tweaks with his legs and, boom. It’s the All-Star Break and Kahnle is still sporting a 2.65 ERA in 34 innings pitched. It gets better though. Kahnle’s FIP is currently sitting at 1.56 — good enough to land him at third best in the AL behind Craig Kimbrel and Roberto Osuna. He’s also striking out 15 batters per nine and walking just under two—a far cry from the Kahnle baseball had seen in years past. Sometimes small mechanical tweaks are the key to extraordinary success, and Kahnle has certainly proven that to be true in 2017.

The Matt Davidson Show

After an unfortunate accident in which Matt Davidson fractured his right foot during his major league debut last June, Davidson noted that while rehabbing he had a lot of time to think about his approach at the plate and make some changes.

The high hopes that many had for the young third base prospect began to dwindle as the seasons passed down in Charlotte and Davidson wasn’t able to sustain healthy enough results to merit a spot in the big league roster. Davidson is now 72 games into his first full season in the majors, and if you’d told folks that in 2017 he’d be leading this White Sox team in home runs while holding onto a steady place in the lineup — they simply might not have believed you.

But Davidson leads the team with 18 home runs and, while his batting line is quite lopsided, sitting at just .245/.284/.515, he’s still hitting the ball over the fence with regularity that’s been to the White Sox’s benefit—including a streak in which he homered in four straight games. The downside? Plain and simple — that 41 percent strikeout rate he’s sporting. Eventually teams will learn to adjust to Davidson’s sweet spot, and the home run fest will come to a halt. Unfortunately when that day comes, there isn’t much left to prop of Davidson’s success.

There have been a lot of surprises on the South Side in 2017, including a plethora of starting pitching injuries (something the White Sox are not used to) and the always exciting presence of the talent that’s down on the farm. Perhaps the biggest moment that the White Sox are waiting to roll out though? The arrival of number one prospect Yoan Moncada. Fans will have to wait just a little while longer for that treat, though.

All Star Avi

The road to the sustained success has been a long one for White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia and the fact his success in 2017 held water long enough to merit him an invitation to the All-Star Game has been long awaited. For many on-lookers though, it began to feel like a pipe dream. Before this season, Garcia had never seen his batting average any higher than .257 in a White Sox uniform and, despite having as much power potential as he does, had never seen his slugging average reach anything higher that .385 in a full season of work.

“I learned from all my mistakes, and now I’m learning everyday,” Garcia said of his past struggles. “That’s the word: believe. Believe in yourself.”

With a newfound approach at the plate and the knowledge he’s acquired since his debut in 2013, Garcia is slashing a healthy line of .318/.362/.518 and finally able to tap into his potential. It’s likely that Garcia is just now getting started, but what baseball has seen from him was enough to land him his first trip to the Midsummer Classic.

“I am very happy to represent the White Sox in the All-Star game,” Garcia said. “I know I believed in myself, so I knew I would work hard to improve myself and my career,” He continued. “If you believe in yourself and do the work, you have the opportunity like I have now of representing the White Sox in the All-Star Game.”

The work Garcia has put in has paid off, and it’s been on display in full force this season. He’s taken on a rigorous workout routine and even changed his diet.

“First of all, I lost weight,” Garcia said. “I wake up every day at like 5 a.m. to go to the gym and work hard, I go back home in the afternoon and then go to hit like three times per week. All that work is coming together.”

Indeed it is. Next Tuesday, Garcia will be the lone White Sox player to represent the South Side on the American League team. He’ll be alongside his former teammate Chris Sale, Yankees breakout star Aaron Judge, and other surprising players like Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak.

The special announcement didn’t come without his fellow teammates and coaches close by. “I was in the training room when they called us together as a team,” Garcia said of the team meeting called at 11:30am on Sunday. “When they said my name, I was really proud. Really proud. This now gives me even more motivation.”

“I can’t wait for when they hang the All-Star jersey in your locker room,” Garcia said, the sound of pure excitement in his voice. “I can’t wait for that. It’s exciting.”

Garcia has seen his struggles at the plate recently, currently sitting an 1-for-23 stretch, yet that still hasn’t derailed the 26-year-old’s numbers on the season. Garcia has also been day-to-day since suffering a minor knee injury in the White Sox’s series finale against the Yankees on Thursday. “We’re just taking it a little slow,” manager Rick Renteria after the game of Garcia, “He said he felt good.”

So will the Garcia family be in Miami to help him celebrate this very special achievement? “Of course,” Garcia said without hesitation. “I asked Jose [Abreu], he said make sure you bring your family with you because you know, it’s the first time. Hopefully many more to come.”

Even Ozzie Guillen has praise for Avi Garcia

By Cat Garcia

Picture this: It’s the last week of June and Avisail Garcia is hitting .325, the fourth-best batting average in the American League. He’s in the running for the first All-Star Game of his career. He’s striking out at the lowest rate since his first year in the league.

The thing is, you don’t have to picture it. It’s actually happening. Avisail Garcia is living up to the potential baseball imagined for him when he came to the big leagues; he’s simply doing it six years later. He’s currently on his first major cold streak of the season (0-for-17), but that hasn’t stopped him from keeping a healthy batting line.

“About time. We’ve been waiting for this moment. A lot of people bet he would have failed,” former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of Garcia over the weekend. “I know because at work, every week I talk about him. People keep waiting on him to be what he was. I think right now he has more experience. It’s about time [for] this kid. What he’s doing right now, I think it’s fun. He’s showing his potential. I see a lot of players with potential who never make it. I think it started getting too late for him, now he’s back on the map.”

That’s quite the stamp of approval from a World Series-winning skipper who never even managed Garcia. Baseball has always known the potential is there for Garcia to flourish, which is part of the reason so many folks have said they’re “out” on Garcia but have seemingly always kept one foot in the door. This is the moment that they’ve kept their foot in the door for.

The question behind any stretch of success is always, “How?” How is this happening now, and why? Is it just dumb luck? Well, earlier in the season, like many of Garcia’s successful stretches, it seemed as if luck was a factor. Of course, he’s still hitting for an extremely high BABIP of .391, which baseball folks have continually said is unsustainable. But, somehow, Garcia is making it work. It’s also worth noting that of the four other batting average leaders in the AL that Garcia joins, they all sport BABIPs anywhere from Jose Altuve’s .343 mark to Aaron Judge’s .420 mark. And it’s not all just lucky hits for Garcia.

We know a few things that have hindered Garcia’s success in the past. He strikes out a lot, he doesn’t seem to have much of a plan at the plate, and he doesn’t use all parts of the field enough.

Take a look at how he hit breaking pitching last season:

2016 AVG SLG
Sliders .214 .298
Curveballs .133 .178


Now, take a look at the difference this season:

2017 AVG SLG
Sliders .310 .578
Curveballs .306 .417


That’s quite the improvement. Hitting those kinds of pitches takes a good batting eye and good plate patience, something that Garcia’s approach has lacked. Take a look at his swing maps in 2016 and 2017:

There are a few takeaways from these maps. Garcia is no longer swinging freely at high fastballs. He’s restricting his swings at pitches outside the zone (up just 3 percentage points from 2016) while being able to make quality contact on the pitches outside the zone he does hit (outside the zone contact rate up 9 percentage points from 2016).

“He stays in the middle, his approach at the plate, he’s not chasing bad pitches, “ Guillen continued. “That’s what’s important for him, chasing those pitches. I think right now he’s going to be great. It’s getting hot, hopefully he’ll get better.”

There’s another interesting thing to note when looking at these maps though. Avisail Garcia, notorious for being an opposite field hitter, now has a career high pull rate of 47 percent– an 11 percent spike from 2016. That’s because Garcia is now hitting pitches he’s seeing inside, which is a perfect recipe for Garcia to finally use the entire field and not just hit drastically to the opposite field.

Right now, Garcia may be on a bit of a cold streak, but it’s the end of June and an 0-for-17 stretch still hasn’t cratered his numbers. Let’s hope that the adjustments Garcia has made are a strong foundation for him to see continued success. Even if it’s not at this rate, it’ll likely be better than what the White Sox have seen from the slugger in the past.

White Sox Hot Corner Picks Up Steam

It’s finally happened. The moment all White Sox fans have been waiting for. No, not Carlos Rodon making his season debut. Or Yoan Moncada being called up to the majors. Alright, so maybe not everyone is waiting for it, but it still happened — Todd Frazier got his batting average above .200 this season.

The 31 year-old third baseman known for his home run hitting prowess has been the subject of quite a bit of concern due to his abysmal numbers beginning the final season of his two-year contract with the White Sox.

But things are on the upswing. Currently, Frazier is sporting a line of .222/.327/.438 with the second highest ISO on the White Sox (min. 200 PA) at .216—just behind Avisail Garcia. All this looks a lot better for Frazier than it did say, about a week ago.

The interesting thing to pick up on here is that while Frazier is maintaining an average OBP this season, his BABIP is sitting at just .237—the lowest on the team by nearly 50 points. That indicates that Frazier has had a lot of balls fall in places that make for some pretty bad luck so far this season and yet he’s still maintaining a healthy enough OBP considering the fact.

The reason for that? Frazier is walking a ton. He’s walking at a 13.4 percent clip, nearly four percentage points higher than any other year of his career and the highest on the White Sox just behind Omar Narvaez (although you could consider them tied, seeing as they’re separated by .1 percentage points).

“The average isn’t there, but if I had this batting average with a .250 on-base percentage, I’d be worried,” Frazier said of his low batting average yet defendable OBP. “But I have an approach that works for me and, eventually, once it clicks, it’s going to be pretty good.”

So what’s the difference maker been for Frazier? It’s definitely walks, but how is he suddenly tightening up his plate approach seven years into his major league career?

“I’m seeing a lot more pitches for the first time in my career,” Frazier said of his approach. “It’s good. It means I’m not swinging at that many balls, staying in my zone.”

His plate discipline numbers certainly back up that claim. Take a look at the difference in the numbers simply from 2016 to 2017:















Quite the difference. Frazier is swinging outside the zone less and swinging less overall than he did last season. Let’s now take a look at how that’s effected his contact rates:












In a single word: positively. Though he’s swinging at fewer pitches outside the strike zone by far, he’s making more contact on those pitches and more contact overall. He’s just not being handed a ton of luck on those pitches, which is well-illustrated by his extremely unfortunate BABIP.

Things should be picking up for the slugger; this type of bad luck is only sustainable for so long. Should Frazier pick it up soon, he could become trade bait for a team looking for a push at the deadline. With just over half a season left on his contract, however, combined with his age and his declining skill set, it’s not likely Frazier will bring a lot back in a trade. Though he’s showing the ability to be proactive and work with what he has at the plate, that doesn’t mean that Frazier will turn back into a perennial All-Star or Home Run Derby champ again.

For now, Frazier’s value lies in his ability to get on base, hit home runs (he’s tied for the team lead), and bring a bounty of character and leadership to the ever changing and very youthful landscape of the Chicago White Sox clubhouse. Those thing are all worth keeping Frazier around for.

The Latest Garcia to Take Off for the White Sox

It isn’t unfair to say that the 2017 White Sox are not exactly the most interesting team in Major League Baseball this season, so much so that most folks are keeping a sharp eye on their minor league system with perhaps even more interest than their big league roster.

Among this misshapen team of veterans mixed with young players just breaking into their new roles, there is an unlikely, yet possibly extremely beneficial, story blooming in the progression of utility man Leury Garcia.

Besides his memorable appearance pitching against the Boston Red Sox a few seasons ago (likely just behind Adam Dunn as my favorite White Sox Position Player Pitching appearance), there isn’t much that comes to mind when you think of Garcia. He’s part of the trifecta of Garcias on the White Sox roster and has taken on the role of filling Adam Eaton’s shoes in centerfield. That’s about it.

The arrival of new White Sox manager Rick Renteria has installed a fresh coaching perspective to this team and perhaps revived a stale bench. These days, Garcia is seeing a bounty of playing time—more than he’s seen at this point in the season during any year of his career. The consistency seems to be having a positive effect on his performance.

Garcia has always been a fourth outfielder type. A player who has struck out anywhere from 46 to 26 percent of his plate appearances. Just last season, Garcia walked at a rate even lower than Tim Anderson. Garcia’s only true asset was his undeniable speed which aids in his ability to steal bases (21 over his four year career).

Things are a bit different now. Garcia is currently slashing .302/.340/.479 over 104 plate appearances — just around 70 shy of how many plate appearances Garcia previously racked up over any full season of play.

After Friday’s two-home run game against the Padres, Garcia is now comfortably slugging near the .500 mark. His slugging percentage rose nearly 70 points that evening because small sample sizes this early in the season show drastic fluctuation. . Unfortunately, that isn’t sustainable for Garcia. His speed, however, should help him keep his OBP at a healthy level. Garcia is also putting up a 126 wRC+, meaning that he’s sitting 26 points above league average. Again, Friday’s game tacked onto that number, but Garcia was still around a 100 wRC+ before Friday’s game, which is league average. League average is not a term that I suspect anyone ever felt would be attached to Garcia.

Besides seeing more regular playing time, what’s the major difference been for Garcia this year? Well, it’s actually quite obvious once you look a bit deeper into his numbers. Garcia’s plate patience and ability to read good pitches to hit has skyrocketed:

O-Swing% O-Contact% Z-Swing% Z-Contact% SwStr%
2014 37.9 67.3 69.3 83.5 11.9
2015 31.4 45.5 66.7 77.8 16.1
2016 32.3 65.6 69.8 77.6 13.3
2017 32.8 79.3 73.4 89.5 7.2

Garcia’s outside-the-zone swings have become extremely productive. He’s barely raised his percentage of swings outside the zone, while tacking on nearly 14 percentage points to his outside-the-zone contact rate. Garcia is also seeing pitches in the zone better, swinging at them just 4 percentage points higher than last season, while making 12 percent more contact.

And this is all while Garcia has only raised is overall swing rate by 3 percentage points, added a ton of quality contact, and lowered his swinging strike rate by 5 points. Oh, did I mention that his strikeout rate has nearly halved this season? Garcia struck out in 27 percent of his plate appearances last year. This year, he’s striking out at just a 13 percent clip. Pretty impressive. (His walk rate is still menial but, hey, the guy can’t fix everything at once.)

Garcia may never be an everyday player on a strong, contending team but, if he continues to see regular at bats during a time when the White Sox can afford for him to scuffle in the name of finding his stride, Garcia will round out to be a solid, valuable asset to the future of the White Sox’s bench arsenal; a major key to the success of any well rounded team. Looks like all Garcia needed was to be given a chance to show that he is able to play successfully at the Major League level, something he wasn’t truly afforded in his previous seasons on the South Side.

A Close Look at Avi’s Hot Start

In a perfect world, it wouldn’t be considered an oddity that Avisail Garcia is currently tearing the cover off baseballs at the rate he currently is. Sure, his numbers are a bit inflated due to the small sample size of playing just 20 games so far this season, but in a perfect world White Sox fans would expect those numbers to settle into a healthy norms for a player of Garcia’s size, strength and caliber. And it certainly wouldn’t be strange that Garcia is among the top 10 American League batters in slugging percentage along with Aaron Judge, Joey Gallo, Mike Trout and Khris Davis—all slugging .600 or higher.

But the truth is, it’s Avisail Garcia. We’ve done this dance before. It’s the latest edition of Small Sample Size Theater and it’s still April. Not to be a pessimist, but the tides are likely to turn for Garcia — and that’s based on the reality of his stats, not just some sort of jaded White Sox wisdom rearing it’s ugly head. Because we’re working with such a small sample size, instead of only looking at Garcia’s numbers for an entire season, let’s take a look at the first 42 games he played with the White Sox in 2013, when he was acquired from the Tigers, and compare them to his career averages as well as his 2017 data.








2013 (Sox)







Career Avg.














As you can see, even in comparison to a sample size just twice as large as the one we have for 2017, things looked quite hopeful for Garcia this season, right? Finally! These first three weeks are leaving many folks wondering if Garcia has finally made a change that clicks and he is able to tap into his power at the plate.

Unfortunately, when you take a look at the fact that Garcia’s BABIP is nearly 100 points higher right now than it was in 2013 or his career average, that adds up to a lot of good luck on balls in play, which is clearly not sustainable or in anyway attributed to what is considered solid success.

But his career batting line looks decent, right? Well, take into consideration a month such a this one. These hot streaks are like peaks and valleys for Garcia, and tend to fill in a lot of the gaps for those dog days of summer when he is slugging under .300 and striking out at a nearly 30 percent clip — not the type of production you ever want to see from any regular starter, especially one with the potential of Garcia. We’ve seen the power Garcia has in flashes, but the inability to use a strong sense of baseball acumen at the plate to make use of that power is what has essentially been Garcia’s demise.

Garcia’s stats simply haven’t shown any drastic changes to his approach in 2017 that would lead one to believe this production is anything but a ton of luck. Garcia’s walk rate is still below league average, his strikeout rate is high for someone who isn’t producing—i.e. Kris Bryant when he isn’t striking out—and he’s still chasing too many pitches outside the zone. Garcia’s O-Swing% is at a whopping 39 percent right now — very in line with his career numbers.

The major difference that we’ve seen with Garcia this season is that he’s hitting balls to his pull side more. I know, sounds strange for a power-type hitter to be someone who hits mainly hit to the opposite field, but that’s one of the quirks that is keeping Garcia in the metaphorical box he’s in right now, unable to reach his full potential.

This season though, Garcia is actually pulling the ball more, and making quality contact on the ball when doing so. Take a look:




Pull Avg.

Oppo Avg.











Garcia isn’t sacrificing his power to the opposite field, but instead is hitting the balls he would normally hit to center to the pull side this season. Garcia is hitting the ball to center a career low 28.6 percent in 2017, while his opposite field percentage is virtually the same.

To say that Garcia has finally found his stride entering his fifth season on the South Side is a bit of a reach, as none of his approach has really changed drastically, but it seems Garcia can at least tap into more of his power by using the whole field—and that’s a good start.

Fear Not Joy, Baseball Fans

Chicago White Sox’ Matt Davidson celebrates his solo home run off Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Ryan Pressly as he heads to the dugout during the seventh inning of a baseball game Friday, April 14, 2017, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

By Connor McKnight

Don’t fret over dingers.

That’s the best advice I can give you after two weeks of baseball
I’ll explain.
Whether it’s in phone calls to the Post Game Show or tweets to the Mailbag, there have been some White Sox fans worrying themselves over quality production from Avisail Garcia and/or Matt Davidson. Both players, it seems, come with their own, individual hang-ups. I’ll see if I can describe them to you.
“But Garcia has ALWAYS been streaky! He’s been through weeks like this before where he looks like the second coming and then, all of a sudden, he turns into empty at-bats and all the swing and miss you can handle. Why should I be excited about him now?”
For Davidson, it’s a bit different: “Sure, a .909 slugging percentage is wonderful but what about that 50% strikeout rate? There’s no way he’s worth getting hyped over.”
Early baseball does weird things to everyone. My best advice, though admittedly it’s probably more patronizing than you’d like, is to not worry about it. Just let yourself enjoy it for a little bit. Let the weirdness of the small sample size wash over you, secure in the knowledge that a month from now, we’ll have numbers attached to players that firmly constitute their worth and tell us exactly what we’ve been dying to know for months… probably.
There’s no mistaking the fact that the White Sox have, by and large, pitched themselves to right around the .500 mark. The bullpen has been fantastic and holding slim leads while the Sox starters have only once taken a game into the seventh inning (Jose Quintana’s second start of the year). The offense hasn’t exactly achieved the “feast or famine” cliche–even in low scoring games, the Sox have gotten runners on to threaten. It has, however, lived and died on the power bats of three players; Garcia, Davidson and Geovany Soto. With Soto on the DL with elbow inflammation, the list gets thinner. Still, my advice is revel in the little things.
For instance on Friday night, Davidson, facing Ryan Pressly’s 97 mph heater, looked absolutely lost through four pitches. Pressly had thrown a clean first inning, striking out two, and looked in command of his breaking stuff and the fastball. Davidson tipped the first pitch, a 93 mph fastball foul. The second, another fastball, perfectly hit the low and away corner of the strike zone for strike two. Davidson, now 0-2, managed to lay off pitch high and away that could have easily been called strike three. It wasn’t, and by the grace of the baseball gods, Davidson would see another pitch. The fourth, a curveball low and away, was a waste-pitch that anyone could have seen coming. Davidson took and prepared for the 2-2. Mind you, he hasn’t seemed comfortable, taken a quality swing or had a quality take all at-bat. The closest things got were knowing on 1-2, after three straight fastballs, a breaking ball was coming.
The fifth pitch of the at-bat was a belt-high 90 mph slider that did anything but. Davidson pounced, rode it out to right field, and gave the Sox the 2-1 lead.
Watching Davidson, strikeout problems and all, hang in an at-bat he seemingly had no right to be in and STILL drive a mistake pitch out of the ball park is a blast. It can be for you, too.
I don’t mean to just whistle Dixie. It would be nice to see Tim Anderson lower his sights some and lay off the high fastball. Todd Frazier seemed to just start taking quality hacks before food poisoning took him (and his lunch) from where they were supposed to be. Tyler Saladino has had some incredibly patient at bats but has yet to be completely rewarded for solid contact. Jacob May is yet to get a hit.
These are things you’re right to want to turn around and smart to keep an
Connor McKnight is the pre- and post-game host for Chicago White Sox baseball on WLS-AM 890. He also hosts White Sox Live, a weekend radio podcast .