The White Sox did not live up to expectations in the 2022 campaign, but still brought back enough talent to compete with the Twins and Guardians heading into the 2023 season. Chicago, though, failed to put together a strong first half and now have major decisions to make in the coming weeks. Here’s a closer look at the Sox’s first half.
There weren’t many positives for the White Sox in the first half, as Chicago entered the break with the third-worst record (38-54) in the American League. Still, there are some to mull over.
The most notable success from the first half was the return of Liam Hendriks. Hendriks successfully defeated non-Hodgkin lymphoma and returned to the White Sox on May 29. He made five appearances before the former All-Star landed on the IL with right elbow inflammation.
Even though the Sox bullpen didn’t have Hendriks for the first two months, Chicago’s bullpen did show some bright spots while he was out. Kendall Graveman posted a 2.93 ERA and seven saves over 41 games, while hard-throwing RHP Gregory Santos looked excellent in his first season in Chicago. Former Diamondback Keynan Middleton rebounded from a tough campaign in Arizona last year and owned a 3.09 ERA in the first half.
We also need to take a minute to acknowledge the Sox’s MVPs in the first half in Lucas Giolito and Luis Robert Jr. Giolito, a likely trade candidate this summer, rebounded from a tough 2022, as he struck out 117 and recorded a solid 3.45 ERA for Chicago. And as for Robert Jr., the 2023 AL All-Star belted 26 home runs in the first three and a half months of the season.
Lynn isn’t the only starter that has struggled, as 2022 AL Cy Young award finalist Dylan Cease flailed with his command throughout parts of the season. And in the bullpen, LHP Aaron Bummer has been pounded by opposing hitters.
The Sox lineup has not been kind to fans, either. Outfielder Andrew Benintendi hit just one home run and recorded a .716 OPS in his first 85 games as a White Sox, a far cry from the .786 OPS the ex-Royal posted in the first half of 2022.
Then, there’s Elvis Andrus and Tim Anderson. We’ll start with Andrus, a veteran infielder that performed admirably late last season for the Sox and earned himself another crack in the Majors earlier this year. Thus far, the move to bring Andrus back hasn’t paid off, as the now-second baseman hit just .208 and owned a .551 OPS over the first half. He was due for some regression, but these numbers are the worst of his career.
Former AL batting champion Tim Anderson, meanwhile, has struggled both in the field and at the plate. Anderson hit just .223 over the first half and belted just ten extra base hits in the first half.
Among the 249 players in the first half with at least 200 PA, both Anderson and Andrus sat in the bottom six of the league in OPS. Anderson’s .521 OPS was the worst in the league.
The White Sox were not considered favorites to win the AL Central at the start of the season, but Chicago had a real chance of being in the conversation in what is the weakest division in the league. Instead, the Sox fell flat and now have significant issues moving forward.
The Sox will unquestionably look to sell off assets over the coming weeks — that much is obvious. However, the White Sox don’t have a deep farm system and have major decisions to make about the future of the franchise.
The White Sox have several talent pieces on Robert Jr. Cease, and Andrew Vaughn. The question now becomes this: can Chicago get the train back on the track next season? If not, things get very tricky.