White Sox

MLB Power Rankings: Preseason

722894.png

MLB Power Rankings: Preseason

Every Monday throughout the regular season, we'll be running these power rankings -- but since the regular season gets underway in earnest this week, we're rolling out our pre-season power rankings today. Take a look and offer up your thoughts in the comments or to us on twitter @CubsTalkCSN or @WhiteSoxTalkCSN.

Tony
JJComments1
Tony: Not sold on them, but can't deny talent on paper.
JJ: No change at the top of AL from last two years.
2
Tony: Are Pujols, CJ enough to put them over the top?
JJ: Dan Haren's the best starter this team has.
3
Tony: Two WS runner-ups, can they finally win one in '12?
JJ: Better hope Pineda's okay.
4
Tony: Would be higher if Utley, Howard were healthy.
JJ: Rotation's easily still good enough to win the division.
5
Tony: Great lineup, but rotation questions.
JJ: Great offense, good pitching, laughable defense.
6
Tony: Love the upstart Rays and the underrated offseason moves.
JJ: Talent is there, can Bobby V bring it together?
7
Tony: Don't see a collapse in their future with second wild card.
JJ: Wainwright, Beltran should offset loss of Pujols.
8
Tony: Return of Posey will give offense huge boost.
JJ: Unreal amount of talent in this starting rotation.
9
Tony: Betting they learned from last year's epic collapse.
JJ: Gallardo, Greinke are a fearsome 1-2.
10
Tony: Great rotation, have full season of Braun.
JJ: If Josh Johnson stays healthy, playoffs seem likely.
11
Tony: Young, improving but won't sneak up on anybody anymore.
JJ: Don't sleep on Justin Upton as an MVP candidate.
12
Tony: Wainwright return is huge, Beltran helps with Pujols loss.
JJ: Should be part of a fun NL East battle.
13
Tony: Getting there, but can they put it all together in '12?
JJ: BRB, gonna go try to borrow some money from Matt Cain.
14
Tony: Up-and-coming, will challenge for 2nd wild card.
JJ: Things'll get interesting when Bryce Harper gets called up.
15
Tony: Will be a great drama, but good enough for postseason?
JJ: BRB, gonna go try to borrow some money from Joey Votto.
16
Tony: Future is very bright, but 2012 may not be it yet.
JJ: Tough to see them challenging Detroit. Solidly mediocre.
17
Tony: Can't even count them out, especially late in seasons.
JJ: Get on the Adam Dunn bandwagon while there's still room.
18
Tony: Is this the year they put together a winning season?
JJ: Hope Moyer can stay in rotation for as long as possible.
19
Tony: Second best team in AL Central, still not a "good" team.
JJ: Not enough pitching, but Brandon Morrow could be great.
20
Tony: BeckhamDunnRios rebound, but not drastically.
JJ: Team is meh, but Vin Scully makes them worth watching.
21
Tony: Magic's ownership will help turn club around.
JJ: Underrated in fairly-weak NL West.
22
Tony: Could be a Top 10 team...in two or three years.
JJ: Still a few starters away. Offense will score plenty of runs.
23
Tony: Wish I could rank them higher than Ryno's .
JJ: Jason Bay's situation pretty much sums up this team.
24
Tony: Season hinges on effectiveness of Mauer, Morneau, Liriano.
JJ: Bet they wish they never traded Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps.
25
Tony: Nope. Not even with the return of Santana.
JJ: Interested to see how Samardzija fares in the rotation.
26
Tony: Great farm system, not so great Major-league team.
JJ: Andrew McCutchen is a star; not much beyond him.
27
Tony: Montero, Ackley enough to score this team runs?
JJ: I want access to Bartolo Colon's magic pixie dust.
28
Tony: Will be a long year out in Cali.
JJ: Another sad year in a great baseball city.
29
Tony: A lot hinges on the young, inexperienced pitchers.
JJ: Let's just agree to enjoy the last few years of Ichiro's career.
30
Tony: Could challenge for worst record in MLB history.
JJ: Quick! Name five players on the Astros. Most can't.

Yo-Yo and the Big Elephant: Now this is the show South Side fans have been waiting for

0423-moncada-abreu.jpg
AP

Yo-Yo and the Big Elephant: Now this is the show South Side fans have been waiting for

Yo-Yo and the Big Elephant sound like characters from your kid’s favorite show (or your favorite show, if you happen to be a kid).

But instead they’re the duo South Side baseball fans have been waiting for.

You might know them better as the Cuban Connection, an alliterative and far less confusing nickname that describes Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu, who in Monday night’s 10-4 win over the visiting Seattle Mariners combined for seven hits, three home runs, a double, a triple, six runs scored and four RBIs.

It was a welcome sight after the White Sox offense slumbered through a weekend series with the Houston Astros in which they mustered just two runs. Heck, this offense has been hard to find during the entire month of April. Entering Monday, it’d produced just 16 runs in its last seven games (with 11 of those coming in a single contest).

But then came Monday’s show, in which Abreu launched a pair of homers and Moncada came a single short of hitting for the cycle. That had to be a proud moment for Abreu, who’s taken his countryman under his wing since Moncada arrived in the majors last summer.

“I’m really mad at him because he had two chances to do it and he couldn’t,” Abreu joked with the help of a translator. “Seriously, I’m really happy for him. I know today was a special game for him. I know he couldn’t hit for the cycle today. But he’s going to have more chances in the future. He’s going to be good.”

This is what White Sox fans have been hoping for. It’s what they’re still waiting for, considering much of that oft-discussed team of the future is still developing in the minor leagues. But Moncada is the story of 2018 at the major league level, how development will continue for the player White Sox fans drooled over at this time last year, when he was ranked as baseball’s top prospect.

Moncada got a lot of early attention for his high strikeout total, and with another punch out Monday he’s now got 34 on the season, still one of the highest totals in the league. But his numbers are looking good in many other facets. He raised his batting average .026 points Monday alone, and he’s now slashing .240/.345/.493 on the still-young season.

Abreu, of course, is the White Sox best hitter and has been ever since he arrived from Cuba before the 2014 season. For a team in such an offensive rut, Abreu’s four-hit night Monday raised his batting average up over .300, to .308. He’s now got six homers on the season, the most on the team and one of the higher totals in the American League. While Moncada and others will spend 2018 showing the White Sox what they will be in the future, this was expected from a guy who’s been one of baseball’s most consistent hitters in the last half decade.

But the future comes into play with Abreu, too, whose consistency at the plate and his presence in the clubhouse as a mentor to Moncada and other young players make him as believable a part of those planned future contenders as any of the organization’s highly rated prospects. A contract decision will need to be made at some point, obviously, but the White Sox will tell you any day of the week how much they value Abreu, who knows exactly where this franchise is and is excited as anyone about where it’s going.

“Everybody knows we are in the process, and everybody knows what this process is about,” Abreu said. “We have a lot of young talent, a lot of young players. They are going to hit some bumps and have some struggles as a team. But I think we all know how we have to play this game. (Manager Rick Renteria) has taught us how to play this game, how to play this game representing the White Sox organization and how they play this game.

“I feel really happy. We prove today that we are able to play a good game and to show the rest how we win games. That is the way we like to play.”

Monday was a bright spot in what’s been an otherwise very tough start to the 2018 campaign. But for a team where the future is what matters most, this is what fans have been waiting to see. A game like this might not be commonplace as the summer rolls on on the South Side. But for those dreaming about Moncada and Abreu teaming to lead those contenders of the future, this was one heck of a glimpse into the crystal ball.

“That’s our goal to have big games together for this team,” Moncada said. “Having the opportunity to play with Abreu — ‘The Big Elephant’ as we call him in Cuba — it’s good for me. It’s a big honor. I feel really happy when we have these kinds of games.”

Yoan Moncada nearly hits for the cycle, Jose Abreu hits two homers and the White Sox finally break out the bats

0423-yoan-moncada.jpg
AP

Yoan Moncada nearly hits for the cycle, Jose Abreu hits two homers and the White Sox finally break out the bats

So, anyone out there still worried about Yoan Moncada?

The White Sox second baseman, who at this time last year was the top-ranked prospect in baseball, was the subject of much social-media frustration through the season's first few weeks. But it's safe to say he's "redeemed" himself in the eyes of fretting fans.

Monday night, he led the White Sox offensive eruption with a three-hit night that brought him just a single shy of the cycle in a 10-4 win over the visiting Seattle Mariners.

Moncada started the offensive outburst with a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first inning. He doubled to start the bottom of the second and launched a solo homer to begin the bottom of the fourth. He scored all three times.

Moncada entered the game with a .214/.329/.400 slash line, though he's been hot of late. In the last seven games, he's got nine hits, six extra-base hits and three homers. He still has 34 strikeouts on the season, one of the highest totals in the majors, but he's putting up some good numbers elsewhere.

Abreu also had a red-hot Monday night, picking up four hits with a couple of homers, the 12th time he's bashed multiple long balls in a single game.

It was quite the performance for a White Sox offense that has mostly been quiet so far in 2018. They scored just two total runs in three straight blowout losses against the Houston Astros over the weekend. And while they plated 11 in that 14-inning marathon in Oakland, the three road games prior to that featured a grand total of three runs.

Monday night that all changed with the White Sox banging out 18 hits, including seven straight to start the bottom of the first, the first time that happened in the big leagues in four years.