The White Sox closed out a first half to be happy about Sunday.
Yeah, they’re still under .500, even after a win over the Crosstown-rival Cubs. But as general manager Rick Hahn has said so many times since the calendar turned to 2019, the win total at season’s end is not quite as important as the progression of the young players who will make up the core of the next contending team on the South Side.
In that sense, the first half of another rebuilding season has gone very, very well.
“From a big-picture standpoint, I think we're pleased,” Hahn said Saturday. “Here or there, you might get a little frustrated by the result of an individual game, but as you look at some of the more important elements of what we're trying to do in Year 3 of the rebuild, we're very pleased with the development of some of our young core players.
“Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, the way Eloy (Jimenez) has adapted to the big leagues and Lucas Giolito, guys that we view over the years as potentially important parts of a championship core have stepped forward and reinforced our beliefs. Some of the developments, whether it’s Nick Madrigal or Luis Robert or Dylan Cease more recently coming here, in terms of that next group joining that young core has also been very positive.
“Not going to say sitting here two games under .500 is a great victory, but when you look at the larger multi-season point of view and where we're at in this rebuild, we're very pleased with this season.”
That was a fairly comprehensive list of positives Hahn provided, and it should so just how different 2019 has been from the last two seasons — when the White Sox lost a combined 195 games — that it’s not at all difficult to rattle off a lengthy list of bright spots.
Sunday, the White Sox earned a split in the season Crosstown series thanks to some of those bright spots. Jimenez launched a two-run homer to center field, where he’s made a habit of disturbing the foliage. It was his second homer against the team that traded him in four games against the Cubs this year. Jose Abreu, unmentioned as one of the young guys but someone who seems to be a big part of the future plans, also homered as part of a three-hit day and a nice send off as he makes his way to the All-Star festivities in Cleveland.
On top of the dingers, Moncada extended his hitting streak to 13 games, the longest in the majors. And Alex Colome, the offseason trade acquisition who could stick around longer than the last two White Sox closers (meaning past the trade deadline) slammed the door for his 20th save.
All four are guys who could have huge impacts in 2020, a season that could see the White Sox open their contention window. And that was the theme of the first half, echoing Hahn’s hopes. Players who are primed to play big roles moving forward are the ones having success, the ones showing why the future is so bright.
“Some of these guys that have been within the organization, both pitching and in the field, continue to improve, take advantage of the experiences they've been gaining,” manager Rick Renteria said after Sunday’s game, “and today was an example of those things showing up. It was a nice team victory.”
Jimenez. Abreu. Giolito. Moncada. Colome. Anderson. Cease. James McCann. Are you starting to see a 2020 roster forming? One that, with the additions of Robert and Madrigal and a healthy Michael Kopech and whoever the White Sox decide to go get this offseason, could be that next contending team on the South Side?
It’s been a long few years of waiting during this rebuilding process for White Sox fans, but the future is not only nearer, it’s within view. It was throughout the first half. It was Sunday. It will continue to be for the remainder of the 2019 campaign.