The Southsiders gained some significant traction in their quest for a championship in 2020. In their first legitimate contending season since 2008, the White Sox finished 35-25 in the historical, shortened 2020 season. At one point, the White Sox held the AL’s #1 seed before a regression down the stretch. A few standouts, an AL MVP contender, and a no-hitter are some of the key points of the White Sox 2020 season. So let’s take a look at the Chicago White Sox 2020 season in review:
After a busy off-season, the White Sox looked shaky through the first five games in the season, but then hit their stride. A 32-16 record by September 15th was good enough for best in the AL. Although they faltered down the last few games of the season, it was a good showing for a completely rebuilt team. Despite a first-round exit, the playoff berth was an outstanding achievement, their first since 2008. Although it was a shortened season, the team made the most of it and luckily hung on for the postseason.
Where the White Sox Stood
A 35-25 record (despite a 3-9 record down the stretch), proved to be good enough for second place in the AL Central, behind the Minnesota Twins. Offensively, the White Sox scorched opposing pitchers for 96 home runs which was good for third in the league and a .261 batting average sixth best in the majors. Power was the name of the game for the team, as they were also top-5 in total bases and slugging. Strikeouts and plate discipline were the only issues with the offense as the team was 4th in strikeouts and 24th in base on balls.
Pitching was on a similar wavelength. The team was sixth in MLB with a 3.81 ERA, but did use 28 pitchers, eighth most in MLB. Although they were middle of the pack in strikeouts, the team was good at not allowing hits and earned runs. But they did walk a good amount of batters for a playoff team.
Abreu For MVP
Jose Abreu has been a rock-solid, middle of the lineup hitter for the Sox since his debut in 2014 and 2020 was no different. He hit for a .317 batting average, 148 total bases, and added 19 home runs to an MLB best 60 RBIs. In all 60 games, he also added an AL best 76 hits and slugged .617. Abreu appears to be in the AL MVP running with Mike Trout, DJ LeMahieu, and teammate Tim Anderson.
Let the Kids Play
The White Sox were one of the youngest teams in baseball in 2020. Although the average age was about 27.5, six of the team’s nine lineup regulars were 27 or under and 19 of the 28 pitchers used in the season were 27 or under. Rookies Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal, Dane Dunning, Matt Foster, and Garrett Crochet were all outstanding or permissible. Robert hit just .233 but added 11 home runs and nine stolen bases. Madrigal hit .340 in just 29 games, with only seven strikeouts. Dunning was shaky but supported a 3.97 ERA and 35 strikeouts in seven games. Foster added a 2.20 ERA in 23 games to 31 strikeouts. Crochet was the ultimate bullpen weapon down the stretch, posting a 0.00 ERA in five games with eighth strikeouts.
Younger core players like Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Lucas Giolito, and Dylan Cease were all excellent. Anderson was second in the AL with a .322 batting average with a .886 OPS. Jimenez slammed 14 home runs with a .296 batting average and a .891 OPS. Lucas Giolito added to his all star 2019 campaign by throwing a no-hitter and owning a 3.48 ERA with 97 strikeouts (2nd in the AL), proving himself as ace material.
Veteran, off-season pickups like Dallas Keuchel, Steve Cishek, and Yasmani Grandal were all formidable in their first seasons with the Sox. Keuchel was lights out, posting a 1.99 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 11 starts. Other tenured vets including Jose Abreu, Alex Colome, Ross Detwiler, Evan Marshall, and James McCann were excellent. Colome, in particular, finished with an outstanding 0.81 ERA and 12 saves.
The Downside And Conclusion
Ricky Renteria was successful but showed that he has never been with a winning team before. In the 2-1 series loss to the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card round, his managing was shaky and ultimately cost the White Sox the season. His final week and a half stretch was worse, with a 3-9 record and dropping the AL Central lead. Renteria and pitching coach Don Cooper were both let go after the series loss, and as of 10/21, the spots are still open. The managerial search will be intriguing and very important to the team’s future.
2020 was the first step in the right direction. Currently, Rick Hahn has done a swell job. He has added a good mix of veterans and youngsters to the team and appears to have put the massive rebuild at the end of the finish line. The next manager will hopefully glue the final pieces together for a deeper playoff run in 2021 and beyond. As long as the rookies and young players grow and the core players do their duty, the Sox are destined for greatness.
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