What an amazing month of April it has been for the Chicago White Sox. Just one month ago, the city of Chicago was consumed by Blackhawks playoffs excitement and the anticipation of the Cubs beginning their quest for the World Series.
But now, as we near the end of April, the White Sox have garnered some attention not only in the city of Chicago, but in the Major League Baseball world as well. The team’s 16-6 start might be a surprise, but many are aware that the Sox are off to their best start since 2005 – a year that no White Sox fan will ever forget.
It’s been a long time since the Sox have been this successful this early. Actually, it’s been a long time since the Sox have been this successful at any point of the season.
At 16-6, the Sox are 10 games over .500. They haven’t been 10 games over .500 since September of 2012. This is also the first time the team has had a winning record after their first 22 games since 2009.
Buy or Sell: Rick Hahn’s Offseason
While 22 games is certainly too small of a sample size to evaluate the additions and subtractions from a year ago, the Rick Hahn seems to have made a lot of the correct decisions this offseason. One of his goals was to address the team’s defense, and Sox currently rank 2nd in overall defensive efficiency. His new 3rd baseman, Todd Frazier, leads the team in HR and RBI, and he is also a clubhouse favorite. Mat Latos has won his first four starts of the season while posting a 0.74 ERA. Brett Lawrie has been solid with the bat and spectacular with the glove. Dioner Navarro and Austin Jackson haven’t done much statistically, but they are contributing ways that you can’t see on paper. Navarro has the pitching staff in a groove with the way he has been calling games, and Jackson has been a nice remedy for what used to be an incredibly poor defensive outfield.
Buy or Sell: Chris Sale’s Low Strikeout Rate
Chris Sale never ceases to amaze. In 2014, it was his astonishing ERA. In 2015, it was his record-breaking strikeout totals. In 2016, it has been his incredible efficiency. Perhaps the best part about Sale’s game is that you never know what to expect from him, and he can beat you in so many ways. Following back-to-back seasons where he posted double-digit K/9 rates, he is averaging just 7.6 in his five starts this year. But his success hasn’t suffered. In fact, it has gotten better. Sale is the first pitcher to reach 5 wins, and his ERA of 1.66 and WHIP of 0.684 are both career bests. There is a good chance that he is making an adjustment to be able to last longer in games by not throwing as many pitches per inning; but there is also a good chance that hitters are now well aware that they need to swing early in the count to have any chance of reaching base. All of that being said, I think we can expect Sale’s K/9 numbers to climbing soon. His stuff is just too good to be a contact pitcher.
Buy or Sell: Mat Latos’ Early Season Dominance
I was surprised by how much suspicion and pessimism the Mat Latos signing stirred up during the offseason. Ok – no one could have expected him to win his first four starts with a sub-1 ERA. I get that. What I didn’t get was why so many people thought he would be a bust. A lot of people seemed to cling to his 2015 struggles and injuries, and completely ignore the fact that he is a 3-time 14-game winner in the prime years of his career. Before his 2015 season, he had a streak of 4 consecutive years with an ERA below 3.50. That’s not bad at all for a guy who the Sox simply took a $3 million, 1-year flyer on before Spring Training. Obviously, he won’t be able to keep up the pace that he is on now, but I think he is going to turn in a very good season. Don’t be surprised if he wins 14 games for the 4th time in his career.