It has been an eventful first month of the season. Let’s revisit it.
First, the bad.
- Losing 16 of 19
This stretch was painful to watch and does not deserve much comment on my part. In the 3-game series against the Astros, the Sox were blown out every game and were outscored 27-2. This was one of the worst series I can remember. But hey, we beat the Astros when it really counted, so there’s that.
- Adam Engel
He picked up right where he left off at the end of last year. He is slashing just .159/.226/.206, which is well below replacement level. He is already down to -0.6 wins below replacement per Fangraphs and is an entire win below replacement according to Baseball Reference. Remember that flaming hot Spring Training he had? Well, it goes to show how misleading Spring Training stats can be.
- Avisail Garcia
Avi appeared to turn the corner last year with his .330/.380/.506 slash line and WAR above 4 according to both major sites. However, he is off to a slow start this year (.233/.250/.315), but the worst news is that he ends the month on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
- Lucas Giolito
A pitcher cannot have a 7.71 ERA, 7.36 BB/9 and 3.86 K/9 and expect to stay in the majors for very long. He has some adjustments to make and pronto. Otherwise, if he shows no signs of improvement in his next couple of starts, I would not be opposed to sending him back down to Charlotte so he can make those changes against weaker hitters.
Now, the good.
- The opening series at Kauffman Stadium
The Sox won two different types of games in this short sweep. The season opener was a slugfest that ended in a 14-7 victory. Davidson stole the show with his three home runs (more on him later). Anderson shined with his two homers, and Abreu also went deep, giving the Sox six home runs on the day as they rallied from a 4-0 first inning deficit. As of the end of that day, the Sox led the majors in run differential.
They had to grind out the second game, as they trailed 3-1 heading into the eighth. A Moncada home run followed by a two-run double by Wellington Castillo put the Sox in the lead, and unlike past seasons, the bullpen protected a small lead in Kansas City (even large leads were not safe in KC in past years).
- The most recent series at Kauffman Stadium
I love how we are making good memories in Kansas City these days, as those have been hard to come by in recent years. Matt Davidson is a legend when he steps into Kauffman Stadium. No idea why, but that is what happens, and I am not complaining. On April 27, he hit a go-ahead homer in the fourth, and after the bullpen blew the lead, he put as back on top with another homer in the eleventh. That home run was #9 for him on the year and #7 for him in KC. No visiting player had ever hit seven homers in a season at Kauffman before him. And again, this is April. The Sox would go on to win the game 7-4 and would win the five-game series, finishing the month 5-2 against the Royals (all games on the road).
- Yoan Moncada
There were a lot of people who were worried about him a few weeks ago. To them I say, “I told you so.” He can hit, he can run, and he can field. He is doing everything a fan could ask for. Per Fangraphs, he is the most valuable White Sox player (1.4 WAR) and is the #2 most valuable second baseman in baseball this year.
- Tim Anderson
Tim took a step back in 2017 but has put his rough year behind him. Despite being a shortstop, he is an above average overall hitter. He also steals bases (8-for-9), and Fangraphs views him as an above average defender, which was a major concern last year. Oh yeah, and he has walked 7 times. He walked just 13 times last year. Plate discipline is hard to learn, but he appears to have improved his.
- Matt Davidson
I’ll keep this brief because I mentioned him earlier, but who could have seen this month coming? He leads the team in OBP (.375), SLG (.609), home runs (9), and according to Fangraphs, he is #2 on the team in WAR (0.9). Granted, a lot of that production came against the Royals, but overall, it was still an excellent month for him.
- Seby Zavala
If you do not know who he is, learn about him now. Though much hype goes to fellow Barons catcher Zack Collins, Zavala is crushing the ball. He is slashing an impressive .308/.407/.631. If Zavala was higher up on prospect rankings, people would surely be more excited about him.
- Michael Kopech
He has a 2.14 ERA on the year with a WHIP of 1.000, H/9 of 6.0, a K/9 of 12.4, and a BB/9 of 3.0. Those numbers should speak for themselves, and he should be up before the All-Star break. On April 20, the White Sox’ top pitching prospect pitched in Indianapolis, and I was fortunate enough to watch the flamethrower’s start. I have never been so pumped to watch a minor league game before, and I might never be again. This guy throws gas, and I got to witness it from the third row behind the Knights’ dugout. By just looking at his innings (5) and earned runs (3), that start was his worst of the month. However, his stuff was still beast. He gave up 6 hits, but 5 of them were hit softly. He was also victim to some very spotty defense. Most of hits outs came via strikeout (10), and he issued just one walk. If we were to judge that performance on fielding independent pitching (FIP), which is on the same scale as ERA, he had a 0.66 that night. And if you are wondering on his FIP on the season, it is 2.12, virtually the same as his ERA. In short: the guy is tearing it up in AAA, and you should look forward to the day he is called up.