White Sox

MLB Power Rankings: Week 17

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MLB Power Rankings: Week 17

Every Monday throughout the regular season, we'll be ranking all 30 MLB teams.

Take a look and offer up your thoughts in the comments or to us on twitter @CubsTalkCSN or @WhiteSoxTalkCSN.

Previous rankings: Preseason Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 First Half Week 15 Week 16

Tony
JJ Comments 1
Tony: If they're this good without Votto, imagine when he returns.
JJ: Even sans Strasburg, they're a legit World Series contender.
2
Tony: Strasburg should just play OF when he's done pitching.
JJ: Chapman having an all-time great season for an RP.
3
Tony: Could have put Red Sox away this weekend, but didn't.
JJ: A Cliff Lee return would be nice, but doesn't help lagging O.
4
Tony: What's wrong with Josh Hamilton? JJ: Despite rough stretch, on cruise control in AL East.
5
Tony: Been hot, but nowhere near as hot as CIN.
JJ: Clear favorites for the first Wild Card.
6
Tony: Started the week still with a hole in their rotation.
JJ: Williams appears to be clear trade deadline winner.
7
Tony: Liriano a great move, but what will be done with Sale?
JJ: Desperately need another starter.
8
Tony: Really like the Hanley move for the Dodgahs, you guys.
JJ: They're legit. Run differential on par wloaded Angels.
9
Tony: Hunter Pence? Would put the G-men over the top...
JJ: At this rate, could battle A's in Wild Card playoff.
10
Tony: Fister, Scherzer are key down the stretch.
JJ: Wonder if they'll blink and give up talent for Dempster.
11
Tony: Will Greinke be able to handle the spotlight?
JJ: Go 2-4 after getting Sanchez, Infante.
12
Tony: Can't lose series to Cubs if they have playoff hopes.
JJ: Wonder if they can hang wLA without making a move.
13
Tony: They're in second place. It's almost August. Wow.
JJ: Currently buried by Reds, Pirates. But still hanging around.
14
Tony: Why don't they ever make moves at the deadline?
JJ: If Oakland falters, could re-enter Wild Card race.
15
Tony: Bautista's return on the horizon.
JJ: Loitering on the edges of the playoff race, but still there.
16
Tony: Still alive in the cluster that is AL East.
JJ: Santana's ERA above 5 since throwing no-no.
17
Tony: No way. Just...not gonna make it.
JJ: Bad run differential suggests a crash is looming.
18
Tony: Still have a 17 percent chance of making playoffs.
JJ: Begin big series vs. Dodgers on Monday.
19
Tony: Pretty much done for, I'd say. Will Choo be traded?
JJ: After drubbing at the hands of Twins, time to sell.
20
Tony: Keeping the ball down: How Dickey got his groove back.
JJ: Well, it was fun while it lasted.
21
Tony: Trade Johnson, Zambrano and start over.
JJ: 2012 season just an unmitigated failure in Miami.
22
Tony: Blow it up and start over. Trade Pence, Victorino.
JJ: Bad injury luck and a few down years have done them in.
23
Tony: What would keep fans interested in SEA right now?
JJ: Wonder if they'll field offers on Felix now or in offseason.
24
Tony: Started week only 2.5 games out of 4th!!
JJ: Went from fringe contender to seller in a matter of days.
25
Tony: Come in behind CHC because of awful 1-9 stretch.
JJ: 17-10 since Rizzo's call-up.
26
Tony: Why do they keep locking up best trade pieces?
JJ: Clayton Richard would be a nice pickup for someone.
27
Tony: They really couldn't have gotten more for Liriano?
JJ: Of all the teams to bury Cleveland, it was Minnesota that did.
28
Tony: Hosmer just needs a redo on this season.
JJ: No reason to keep Francouer with Myers crushing it in AAA.
29
Tony: Hey, remember when entire team forgot how many outs there were?
JJ: After a few pretty good years, have come apart in 2012.
30
Tony: Remember when they weren't the worst team in MLB?
JJ: Building a decent farm system, but they're years away.

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

Javy Baez can do anything defensively, but what's next for him at the plate?

Javy Baez can do anything defensively, but what's next for him at the plate?

MESA, Ariz. — You don’t need to spend long searching the highlight reels to figure out why Javy Baez goes by “El Mago.”

Spanish for “The Magician,” that moniker is a fitting one considering what Baez can do with his glove and his arm up the middle of the infield. The king of tags, Baez also dazzles with his throwing arm and his range. He looks like a Gold Glove kind of player when you watch him do these amazing things. And it’s no surprise that in his first media session of the spring, he was talking about winning that award.

“Just to play hard and see what I can do. Obviously, try to be healthy the whole year again. And try to get that Gold Glove that I want because a lot of people know me for my defense,” he said Friday at Cubs camp. “Just try to get a Gold Glove and stay healthy the whole year.”

Those high expectations — in this case, being the best defensive second baseman in the National League — fall in line with everything the rest of the team is saying about their own high expectations. It’s been “World Series or bust” from pretty much everyone over the past couple weeks in Mesa.

Baez might not be all the way there just yet. Joe Maddon talked earlier this week about his reminders that Baez needs to keep focusing on making the easy plays while staying a master of the magnificent.

“What I talked to him about was, when he had to play shortstop, please make the routine play routinely and permit your athleticism to play. Because when the play requires crazinesss, you’re there, you can do that,” Maddon said. “But this straight up ground ball three-hopper to shortstop, come get the ball, play it through and make an accurate throw in a routine manner. Apparently that stuck. Because he told me once he thought in those terms, it really did slow it down for him. And he did do a better job at doing that.”

But the biggest question for Cubs fans when it comes to Baez is when the offense will catch up to his defense. Baez hit a game-winning homer run in his first major league game and smacked 23 of them last season, good for fifth on a team full of power bats. But arguably just as famous as Baez’s defensive magic is his tendency to chase pitches outside of the strike zone. He had 144 strikeouts last season and reached base at a .317 clip. Seven Cubs — including notable struggling hitters Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist — had higher on-base percentages in 2017.

Baez, for one, is staying focused on what he does best, saying he doesn’t really have any specific offensive goals for the upcoming season.

“I’m not worrying about too much about it,” he said. “I’m just trying to play defense, and just let the offense — see what happens.”

Maddon, unsurprisingly, talked much more about what Baez needs to do to become a better all-around player, and unsurprisingly that included being more selective at the plate.

“One of the best base runners in the game, one of the finest arms, most acrobatic, greatest range on defense, power. The biggest thing for me for him is to organize the strike zone,” Maddon said. “Once he does that, heads up. He’s at that point now, at-bat wise, if you want to get those 500, 600 plate appearances, part of that is to organize your zone, accept your walks, utilize the whole field, that kind of stuff. So that would be the level that I think’s the next level for him.”

Will Baez have a season’s worth of at-bats to get that done? The versatile Cubs roster includes a couple guys who split time between the infield and outfield in Zobrist and Ian Happ. Getting their more consistent bats in the lineup might mean sacrificing Baez’s defense on certain days. Baez, of course, also has the ability to slide over to shortstop to spell Addison Russell, like he did when Russell was on the disabled list last season.

Until Baez learns how to navigate that strike zone a bit better, it might make Maddon more likely to mix and match other options, rather than considering him an everyday lock like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.

But like Russell, Albert Almora Jr. and Willson Contreras, Baez is one of the young players who despite key roles on a championship contender the last few years still have big league growth to come. And Maddon thinks that growth is right around the corner.

“I want to believe you’re going to see that this year,” Maddon said. “They’ve had enough major league at-bats now, they should start making some significant improvements that are easy to recognize. The biggest thing normally is pitch selection, I think that’s where it really shows up. When you have talented players like that, that are very strong, quick, all that other stuff, if they’re swinging at strikes and taking balls, they’re going to do really well. And so it’s no secret with Javy. It’s no secret with Addy. Addy’s been more swing mode as opposed to accepting his walks. That’s part of the maturation process with those two guys. Albert I thought did a great job the last month, two months of getting better against righties. I thought Jason looked really good in the cage today. And Willson’s Willson.

“The natural assumption is these guys have played enough major league at-bats that you should see something different this year in a positive way.”