We knew we'd see a bunch of base hits off the bat of Nick Madrigal.
We didn't think we'd see them all in one day.
After going hitless in his first two games as a big leaguer, Madrigal ended his 0-for-8 start to his major league career with a four-hit game in Sunday's White Sox win over the Royals.
"I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, I’m going to be honest with you," Madrigal said after the game. "It’s something I was thinking about, and it’s a huge of sigh of relief one I got the first one."
He got the first four in four consecutive trips to the plate Sunday, the second of back-to-back offensive eruptions the White Sox capable lineup unleashed on Royals pitching this weekend. A 1-4 start has yielded to a four-game winning streak for the South Siders, a team that looks more complete with Madrigal in the lineup.
Pegged as the second baseman of the future since he was drafted two summers ago, he's now the second baseman of the present, with manager Rick Renteria declaring, regular days of rest aside, that you'll see Madrigal in his lineup every day moving forward. You wouldn't expect anything less for the newest member of the White Sox impressive young core.
Folks have been anticipating the arrival of Madrigal's different kind of hitting style for a while now, simultaneously wondering if a high-contact, singles-hitting guy can thrive in modern baseball, which is so often defined by patience and power.
Madrigal's just three games into his career, so the answer to that question will have to wait, even though it's already looking like his approach is a valuable addition to a potent White Sox lineup. But Sunday, he delivered as advertised. He knocked out four singles, going the other way to right field for his first big league hit and bouncing one up the middle for No. 2.
If you were playing Madrigal bingo, you would've marked off spots on your card.
You would have, too, after a display of his much touted high baseball IQ. A game that finished 9-2 was still a low-scoring tie in the seventh inning, and it was Madrigal who broke the 2-all deadlock. He led off the inning with a single and went from first to third when Luis Robert followed with a base hit. It was a heads-up play that allowed him to score when José Abreu grounded a ball through the infield two batters later.
Considering the White Sox ended up hanging a seven spot on the scoreboard that inning, it's not like Madrigal's base-running play made the difference in the ballgame. But it certainly showed off what the team's new everyday second baseman is capable of.
"His approach has been making adjustments to everything," Renteria said. "I think he was a little calmer, and after the first hit he was even much more relaxed. When you get to the big leagues, you want to get that one out of the way, and everyone was extremely ecstatic for him. It loosened him up."
It's perfectly reasonable to suggest that Madrigal should've been doing this kind of thing at the major league level since Opening Day. Certainly he'd argue that.
"Once they told me (I wasn't going to be on the Opening Day roster), it was kind of hard to hear," Madrigal said. "Once I went down to Schaumburg, I stayed positive. I knew my time would come. ... I was hoping it would be soon and just a couple of days in. It was definitely tough to hear, to be honest with you."
But while the White Sox have talked about 2020 playoff expectations since January, the ultimate goal is to be a contender for as long as possible. While the supposed "developmental years" of this rebuilding project are over, that doesn't mean there aren't two guys in the White Sox lineup — at the top and bottom of it Saturday and Sunday, with Robert batting leadoff and Madrigal in the No. 9 spot — who can count their major league games without taking their shoes off.
In other words, there's still developing and growing and figuring things out to be done.
But it doesn't look like Robert is having much trouble adjusting to major league pitching, though, and Madrigal, now the owner of a four-hit game in just one weekend of big league action, might follow suit. If the new second baseman can strengthen the lineup even further — a lineup he said, by the way, hasn't even fully clicked yet, despite the 20 runs and 35 hits it amassed over the last two days in Kansas City — then those playoff expectations could become reality.
"That was one of the things they said once I went down," Madrigal said, "once I got here, they would be looking at me for a big role on the team."
He's here now. And he's already showing off what he's capable of doing.