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First Half Report Card: Fans Grade the White Sox

by Jordan Lazowski

Before we begin the second half, it’s always fun to look back at the first half and review – especially considering it was such an exciting one for the White Sox.

At the break, your first-place Chicago White Sox are 54-35 with an eight-game lead over the Cleveland Indians. Despite losing players such as Nick Madrigal, Eloy Jimenez, and Luis Robert for periods of time, the White Sox have found a way to keep their playoff expectations alive. Reinforcements are coming too: Jimenez, Robert, and Yasmani Grandal will be back before the season’s end.

On our most recent podcast, we reviewed some of the White Sox fan grades along with our own. Now, we review all the questions you answered and how you’re feeling about this team.

Overall, there were a lot of positive responses! Thanks to all who gave their input!

How would you grade the White Sox offense?

A – 20.6%
B – 66.5%
C – 12.4%
D – 0.5%

No surprise from the fans here – given that the White Sox are, by most accounts, a top 5 offense in baseball. I think the “B” likely comes from the lack of home runs and just not being at full strength, which makes sense. The D grades are interesting though – I’d be curious to see where those came from.

How would you grade the White Sox defense?

A – 8.8%
B – 46.4%
C – 40.2%
D – 4.6%

I think this is a pretty fair grade as well – most of our team graded either a B or C. The team has struggled fundamentally and is fifth in all of baseball in most errors. However, they do have guys playing out of position, and they’ve done fairly well all year. Overall, it’s good but not great.

How would you grade the White Sox starting rotation?

A – 86.1%
B – 13.9%

Absolutely no surprises here – Carlos Rodon, Dallas Keuchel, Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, and Dylan Cease have been healthy and awesome. Some have underwhelmed at times, but the reason the White Sox are in first place has a lot to do with this staff.

How would you grade the White Sox bullpen?

A – 7.2%
B – 41.8%
C – 45.9%
D – 4.6%
F – 0.5%

I think B’s and C’s are fair here – I think D’s and F’s are far too harsh. Liam Hendriks and Michael Kopech alone, in my opinion, guarantee this bullpen at least a C. From there, it’s been better than the numbers might show. However, this is far from the lockdown bullpen it was hyped up to be.

How would you grade the White Sox coaching staff?

A – 33.5%
B – 52.1%
C – 12.9%
D – 1.5%

I think A’s and B’s are the fairest here – it’s hard to be too hard on a team in first place. However, White Sox fans have high standards, which I respect. Ethan Katz at an A+ should be the obvious one – from there, your grade likely had a lot to do with your thoughts on Tony La Russa.

How would you grade the White Sox overall?

A – 63.4%
B – 35.1%
C – 1.5%

The C’s are interesting here, especially for a team in first place. I personally gave the team an A-, so I can understand the A’s and B’s.

Who’s the first half Cy Young?

1. Carlos Rodon – 58.2%
2. Lance Lynn – 39.7%
3. Liam Hendriks – 2.1%

Love the votes for Hendriks here, because he has been awesome, but Carlos Rodon gets it from me. He leads all AL SP in fWAR and is well on his way to earning himself a Cy Young Award at the end of the year if things go right.

Who’s the first half MVP?

1. Tim Anderson – 28.9 %
2. Carlos Rodon – 21.1%
3. Lance Lynn – 18.6%
4. Jose Abreu – 6.7%
5. Yoan Moncada – 6.2%

Fans were split by this one – I don’t think there’s a clear MVP on this team. Anyone on the pitching staff is a good choice, as are some of the regulars.

For the handful of you who voted Yasmani Grandal – I completely agree with you. If you disagree, look at his numbers from June compared to the rest of the team – he carried the offense in June and wasn’t as bad as some numbers might suggest before that. His injury is a huge loss to this team, and I’m excited to get him back.

Who’s the biggest first half disappointment?

1. Adam Eaton – 32.5%
2. Lucas Giolito – 15.5%
3. Aaron Bummer – 11.3%
4. Codi Heuer – 9.8%
5. Yoan Moncada – 5.2%

Yeah, Adam Eaton is a fair one. Lucas Giolito is harsh, but he has been far from an ace. Perhaps a midseason wake-up call is in the works for Giolito – it would be great to see.

Who will have the biggest second half?

1. Jose Abreu – 40.2%
2. Andrew Vaughn – 18%
3. Yoan Moncada – 13.4%
4. Tim Anderson – 9.8%
5. Michael Kopech – 7.7%

I hope White Sox fans are right on this one because the White Sox are going to need big second halves from the offense in order to keep this train rolling into the playoffs. The pitching staff has shouldered the load for a while – it’s the offense’s turn to do their job.

Which area should the team prioritize improving?

1. Bullpen – 50.5%
2. Infield – 22.2%
3. Outfield – 13.9%
4. Catchers – 12.9%
5. Starting Pitching – 0.5%

Fans definitely echo my personal thoughts here – the offense can hold its own (though an upgrade from Leury Garcia would be nice). The bullpen needs some help big time with some injured arms leading to players filling into stretch roles. Let’s see what Rick Hahn and the rest of the front office do over the next few weeks.

The White Sox finished the first half with a 54-35 record and an 8-game lead in the AL Central. What are your thoughts on the team’s first half performance?

Top Responses:

Phil Knapp (@Knapp_Phil/Twitter): “I think if someone had predicted we’d be at 54-35 with an 8-game lead back in Spring Training, we ALL would have jumped all over that. Now consider we’ve done it with SO many injuries, and lackluster performance by some of our superstars (Giolito, main disappointment)… I think we should all be pinching ourselves. This is a real “team” approach, very much like our 2005 group, where it’s not made up of superstar, mainstream names. We’re getting above-average performance all throughout the line-up, to offset the missing performers. It’s promising, yet also scary all the same. Look at April hero’s Mercedes and Eaton as examples of how quick above average performers can come back to earth. Hopefully, we’ve got enough depth to keep fresh, hot performers in the lineup every day. If we can bridge the gap until Eloy and Robert are back, we may not even need to go aggressively after a second baseman. I think we can win with what we have now.”

John (@TheRealChiSoxF1): “Overall, very happy with the results. The best part about this team is that they crush weaker opponents. The biggest concern has been the lack of productivity from Heuer, Marshall, and Foster. All were great last year and all have been underwhelming this year. Would love to understand TLR’s usage of Foster. The other two simply haven’t performed. You could put Bummer in that category as well but he’s had some strong outings whereas the other haven’t (at least since April). If the starting pitching does what it did in the first half we will be in good shape to win the division. Any slip up and the Tribe may take it. Their starting pitching, when healthy, is as good if not better, and they have historically performed better in the key moments down the stretch. Playing five at Progressive in September is ominous to say the least. We need to add a bullpen arm and ideally Eduardo Escobar (because I don’t think we have the chips to get Frazier).”

Michael Wiltsie (@mwiltsie_12): “With all of the injuries continuing to add up, I find it impressive we were able to stretch the lead to 8 games. As @barstoolWSD continues to say, we just need to tread water until we get our guys back. TLR has made quite a few questionable decisions in regards to keeping the SP in too long, lineups, bullpen decisions, etc, but, having said all of that, he is a HOF for a reason. I think he is the perfect manager for this team regardless of how many times he frustrates me. I do feel we need to upgrade the bullpen and grab another bat before the trade deadline. However, we really couldn’t ask for a better first half after going through injury after injury. I believe this team is built to win the World Series, and that is due to our starting rotation. The break couldn’t have came at a better time. I see us continuing to expand this 8 game lead, and becoming a team no one wants to face going into the playoff run and playoffs.1 response.”

Brendan McMahon (@ChigerianPrince): “The starting rotation has been much more solid 1-5 than I expected. Here’s to hoping that the health and stability continue. I know being aggressive on the basepaths might be a market inefficiency but I like to see our players have a little more success on stolen bases and less getting picked off. The offense has had it’s hot and cold spells and I feel a lot of praise should be given to Jake Burger/Gavin Sheets in sparking the offense in July from its June malaise. With the White Sox getting contribution from a menagerie of league veterans I’m convinced TLR brought his Scott Spiezio Cardinal’s voodoo with him considering the Sox previously came up empty on these signings in years past. Let’s get a reliever or two at the deadline and bring this train into the station in October.”

Michael Kenny (@michael_kennyjr): “It was a great half. I’ve been amazed by how much value they’ve been able to wring out of scrap heap signings and minor league call-ups. I don’t know if that’s good luck, better scouting, great coaching, or a combination of all three. The biggest story to me, though, is the starting pitching. Carlos Rodón has been a revelation, Lance Lynn is every bit as good as advertised, and Dylan Cease has made great strides. The rotation has been incredibly healthy, so hopefully that can continue, but I think this is a World Series contender with the players returning from injuries plus a couple of minor upgrades.”

Jeremy (@jrtoren): “You have to say they exceeded expectations. The Twins helped by falling on their face at the beginning of the year and never recovering, but nobody could have possibly expected an 8 game lead at the All Star Break while missing half the projected starting lineup for most of it. The starting pitching has been phenomenal, obviously, but so have the role players (Leury, Goodwin, Collins, Lamb, Engel…). It’s weird to say that if Eloy comes back healthy there’s not really a pressing need for another bat, though a starting-caliber 2B might be nice to put Leury back in super-sub mode.”

Marc Murzyn: “For everything the Sox had thrown at them to see the fight and drive this team had to continue getting off the mat was amazing. Seeing the next man up over and over again snd having these guys play huge parts in the continued success has been fun to watch. Kudos to the pitching staff for picking this team up time and again and also to all the young guys making the most of their opportunities.”

If the White Sox could trade for any player at the deadline, who would you like it to be and why?

Most popular players mentioned:
– Adam Frazier
– Eduardo Escobar
– Joey Gallo
– Trevor Story
– Kris Bryant
– Craig Kimbrel
– Richard Rodriguez

Top Responses:

Scott: “Eduardo Escobar in Arizona. He’s easily the best available option of a rent-a-second basement out there, but the Sox shouldn’t give up a whole ton to get him if the asking price is too steep. I just saw him single handedly beat the Dodgers Friday night in LA. He’s easily having the best season out of the second base options available. However, a reliable, healthy bullpen arm or two is probably a better option at this point. Ruiz, Bummer, Marshall, and Foster can’t be called upon in high pressure situations to get outs. This is the Sox weak link right now, more so than second base. They can win with Leury Garcia as an every day second baseman, but they’re vulnerable in the bullpen.”

Howie (@Jhowie988): “Adam Frazier. Leury Garcia is OK at second base but I’d like Frazier a whole lot more. He also gives us another outfielder. Offensively he’s the only guy that I can see filling the shoes of Madrigal. Plus he gives us another year next season.”

Matthew Graber (@wx_MatthewG): “Trevor Story. A terrific hitter to slot in at 2B. Garcia has been terrific but I’d rather have a more proven performer, as well as be able to utilize Garcia’s position flexibility down the stretch.”

Eli J. (@AloneTeenSoxFan): “If the White Sox could trade for one player, I would want it to be Kris Bryant. He can play any of the positions we need (beside catcher, and Moncada could move to second temporarily). Furthermore, due to the Cubs’ desperation and his crappy recent performance, he would likely be less expensive than before. Finally, if we got him, there is a chance Kimbrel could come along. I think this could work great. It would cost a ton, but work great.”

Daryl (@shreved6): “Richard Rodriguez. The bullpen would be lights out and able to survive an injury. Hendriks, Kopech, and Rodriguez to close the game? Not to mention Bummer and Crochet. And while a bat would be nice getting Eloy and Robert back will help a ton.”

How many wins do you think the White Sox will finish with this season?

Results: Highest vote totals between 94-101 wins
94 wins – 6.7%
95 wins – 13.9%
96 wins – 3.1 %
97 wins – 7.2%
98 wins – 12.9%
99 wins – 10.8%
100 wins – 5.7%
101 wins – 7.2%

Assuming the White Sox make the playoffs with a bolstered team, how far do you think they will advance?

1. ALDS – 2.6%
2. ALCS – 34.5%
3. World Series – 27.8%
4. World Series Champions – 35.1%

Love the optimism heading into the second half. Let’s ride, Sox fans.

Be sure to follow us on social media @SoxOn35th for White Sox content all throughout the second half!

Featured Photo: White Sox/Twitter

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Patrick Rocchio

Very interesting survey! Mostly, what should be expected among devoted White Sox fans. I did have an “ouch moment” in reaction to the unflattering comment about Leury who actually has been a tremendous and valuable asset this season. Also, I find no reason for the White Sox to make any trade additions since the team has an abundance of quality players, particularly after the anticipated return of Eloy and Luis. Stay the course and make your plans for a World Series in 2021.

Phil Knapp (@knapp_phil)

Fantastic results. We’ve been a beat-down fanbase for years….full of critics and cynicism. We’re due for a little optimism, and lofty goals! Generally teams riding success would be saying “as long as we can avoid injuries…..”, but we’ve been there….done that…..we can say “wait and see what it looks like with stars returning”!!! Can’t wait to watch the next 2-3 months!

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