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Best of the 2021 White Sox

by Sox On 35th Contributors

As the season has been winding down, it seems that many Sox fans have forgotten just how great this team can be. Yes, the last couple of months have been frustrating with the team taking its foot off the gas, but that doesn’t diminish that this has been the most memorable season in over a decade or so – especially considering the fact that they won 6 of 7 games to end the season.

Here are some of the moments that have made this season great and will hopefully remind White Sox fans of the young and promising team they get to watch!

The Home Opener

On April 8th, in front of the home faithful for the first time since 2019, Sox fans sat through a nearly 2-hour rain delay to watch their squad. The Sox started off the game hot with back-to-back bombs from Yoan Moncada and Yermin Mercedes (this feels like many years ago).

This game also featured the home debut of Lance Lynn, who immediately endeared himself to the Southside faithful by throwing 9 shutout innings of 11 strikeout baseball. This kicked off the Sox outstanding home campaign, with one of the best records in all of baseball.

Rodon’s No-Hitter

Carlos Rodon is the embodiment of perseverance. The man was non-tendered after the 2020 season and was up for grabs for any team to have. He ended up re-signing with the Sox on a 1-year $3M deal at the end of January. Rodon has rewarded them with a dominant season, pitching to a 2.47 ERA (2.63 FIP) with 181 K in only 127.2 innings.

Rodon announced his revival in dominant fashion with a no-hitter against Cleveland on April 14th. He was one batter away from a perfect game until an errant slider just barely hit Roberto Perez in the foot. First Baseman Jose Abreu made an outstanding play in the 9th inning that may be somewhat lost in the excitement of Rodon’s success.

The Rise (and Fall) of the Yerminator

Even though he has most likely played his last game in a White Sox uniform, it’d be hard to recap the season and not acknowledge the contributions of Yermin Mercedes this year. When Eloy Jimenez was injured in Spring Training, things looked bleak for the White Sox offense. Mercedes was most likely not going to even see the big leagues to start the season and was suddenly thrust into the DH role. How did he respond? He started the season a cool 8 for 8, the first player to do that since 1900!

Yermin-mania instantly took over the South Side, as he was one of the most fun players to root for with his swagger and passion for the game. From gargantuan home runs to clutch hits, Mercedes carried this offense for the first month and a half of the season while some of the bigger bats on the team struggled.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. After that magical month of April, the Yerminator began to come crashing back down to Earth as big-league pitchers began to exploit weaknesses in his game. In the midst of these struggles was the 3-0 home run “controversy” that captivated the baseball world for about a week or so.

On July 2nd, he was unceremoniously optioned back to Triple-A. In the span of three months, Mercedes had gone from the AL Rookie of the Month to being sent back to the minor leagues. Still, without the Yerminator’s contributions, the Sox season could have gone off the rails very quickly. Here’s hoping the Sox can win a ring for Yermin.

The Big Bats Start to Come Back

The 2021 White Sox season will be defined by players who would have otherwise been afterthoughts stepping up for the team when injuries began to pile up. The Sox were setback by three injuries to key players that caused them to miss over a month apiece:

  • Eloy Jimenez on March 24th (torn pectoral muscle); missed 4 months
  • Luis Robert on May 2nd (torn hip flexor); missed 3.5 months
  • Yasmani Grandal on July 2nd (torn tendon in knee); missed 1.5 months

As the calendar got into late July, multiple key players slowly started to trickle back into the lineup to give Sox fans a glimpse into what they had missed out on for months this season.

All three players have flashed greatness upon their returns and have shown glimpses of what can make this lineup so dangerous come October. With all due respect to the players that stepped up in their absence, they simply do not possess some of the game-changing qualities of these three superstars.

The Field of Dreams Game

The Field of Dreams game was the rare regular-season game that had a playoff atmosphere to it. With all the pageantry and the setting involved, it created one of the most unique baseball games in recent memory. The Sox came out slugging in this one, with Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez, and Seby Zavala launching home runs into the cornfields in Iowa to give the Sox a 7-3 lead.

Then came the 9th inning where things began to get interesting. Liam Hendriks gave up 2-run shots to Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton to give the Yankees an 8-7 lead heading into the bottom of the 9th inning. Sox fans everywhere were had their torches and pitchforks ready for what would be a devastating loss in their biggest game of the season to date. Then, Zach Britton walked Seby Zavala to set the stage for Tim Anderson to create a truly legendary moment in White Sox history.

This game is easily one of the most memorable regular-season games in my lifetime. From having our hearts ripped out in the top of the 9th to the pure joy when TA7 walked it off, it was a game for the ages.

Clinching the Division

It has been 13 long years since the White Sox played a home playoff game in front of the South Side faithful. On September 23rd, the Sox guaranteed that Sox fans will get to see at least one (and hopefully many more) meaningful October baseball game. It seemed fitting that one of the more overlooked teams in baseball clinched their division on a Thursday afternoon in Cleveland, Ohio. The Sox clinched their division with authority, launching four home runs to remind the rest of the MLB that they are hungry and ready to prove themselves in October.

Longtime White Sox like Jose Abreu and Tim Anderson finally got to enjoy their first taste of division-clinching champagne. It is truly a lucky time to be a White Sox fan now, as this team is young and not going anywhere anytime soon. With a healthy mix of veterans and young players, this squad is ready to hit their stride and go toe-to-toe with the powers of the American League.

What were your favorite moments of what’s been a memorable White Sox season so far?

Featured Photo: Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) / Twitter

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