White Sox

Who Knew? Fun with White Sox stats from the beginning of 2019

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USA TODAY

Who Knew? Fun with White Sox stats from the beginning of 2019

“Who Knew?” is back for 2019.

If you haven’t read this column before, once a week or so, I compile oddities, records and fun facts from White Sox baseball. This is the first installment of 2019. The season is off to a 1-3 start, but there are still fun notes to be found. Here we go:

White Sox are still the only team in the majors not to allow a home run!

Even through Sunday’s games, they were the lone team with a zero in the home runs allowed column. Compare that to the Diamondbacks, who coughed up 14 long ones in their four-game set with the Dodgers. Last season, the Sox allowed a home run to the fourth batter of the season, with four through the first three games. This season, they start the season with (at least) four straight games without a homer allowed. The last time prior to this season they went four in a row to start the season? 2010. Before that? 1979. Before that? 1930!

Lucas Giolito took a no-hitter into the seventh inning

The 6 1/3 inning no-hit bid is the longest by a White Sox pitcher within the first three games of a season since Billy Pierce lost his with two outs in the seventh inning on April 16, 1953 (the second game of the season).

Two runs allowed over 6 2/3 innings for Giolito isn’t bad, considering that his 6.13 ERA was the highest in the majors among 57 qualified pitchers last season.

Cuba x 4

The first four White Sox home runs this season -  all by Cuban-born players. José Abreu, Yoán Moncada, Abreu again and Yonder Alonso.

When Abreu and Alonso hit back-to-back blasts in the fourth inning on Sunday, it was the first time in White Sox history a pair of Cuban-born players hit back-to-back home runs.

March Madness

José Abreu hit his second and third career home runs in March, tying Matt Davidson for the White Sox career record in that month. All three of Davidson’s home runs in March came in the 2018 season opener on March 29.

Yonder is taking his walks

Yonder Alonso is the first White Sox player since Danny Tartabull in 1996 to draw at least one walk in each of the first four games of a season.

He has six walks to only two strikeouts early on this season.

Moncada is averaging under a strikeout a game!

In 2018, Moncada led themMajors with 217 strikeouts. He had 136 hits.

Through four games in 2019. Moncada has seven hits and only three strikeouts. He has as many extra-base hits (3) as strikeouts. So far, so good.

Super Nova

In his White Sox debut, Iván Nova tossed seven innings allowing only a single run.

He’s the first White Sox pitcher with 7+ innings and one or fewer runs allowed in a White Sox debut since Edwin Jackson in 2010. Before that, it was Orlando “El Duque” Hernández in 2005.

Eloy’s RBI

Jiménez collected his first two career RBIs in the first three games vs. the Royals, neither of which came on a hit. The first one was opening day when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. The second one was Sunday when he drew a bases loaded walk. Of players to debut with the White Sox during the expansion era (1961-present), he’s the only one whose first two career RBIs each came with the White Sox as a bases loaded walk or HBP (thanks to the Elias Sports Bureau for research assistance).

From the 108 department

On Monday, Daniel Palka (who set an AL rookie record with four pinch-hit HR in 2018) was pinch-hit for by Ryan Cordell, who hit .108 (4-for-37) in 2018.

Then Cordell homered. Off Jon Edwards, who was born 1/08/1988. You can’t make this stuff up. Baseball is awesome. Even if what transpired after that home run was NOT awesome.

 

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White Sox Talk Podcast: The crazy journey of Gio Gonzalez

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: The crazy journey of Gio Gonzalez

Making it to the majors is a fantastic and rare feat in itself, but White Sox pitcher Gio Gonzalez's path to the White Sox, and from the White Sox, several times over is a journey baseball fans everywhere should listen to. Chuck Garfien is joined by Gonzalez to discuss his pro career and what he sees in this young White Sox team.

(1:40) - Surprised the White Sox wanted him to comeback

(6:00) - Wanted to go a team that wanted to give him a opportunity

(10:00) - Yasmani Grandal is a different kind of person

(13:30) - Thoughts on the Sox young pitching core

(16:20) - Thoughts on the expectations for this team

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

 

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Fifty homers? Eloy Jimenez aims to be a centerpiece in a newly powerful White Sox lineup

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USA TODAY

Fifty homers? Eloy Jimenez aims to be a centerpiece in a newly powerful White Sox lineup

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Fifty. Fifty home runs.

That's a lot of home runs in a single season.

But Eloy Jimenez — like he does with just about everything — is greeting that number with a smile and a laugh.

"Why not?" he said, when asked Monday at Camelback Ranch if he believes he could hit 50-plus homers in a single campaign.

Jimenez does this quite often, asking his own questions of reporters who just asked him a question. Most of the time it's an opinion kind of thing. For example, earlier in the same media session, I asked him how the White Sox lineup looks after the team's many offseason additions. He turned it back on me: "What do you think?" I told him it looks significantly improved from last season. "OK, you have the answer." I guess I did.

But to his "Why not?" in the 50-homer discussion, there was no response from the assembled media. Because really, there isn't a reason why he can't hit 50 home runs in a single season.

It's becoming more of a rarity in baseball, especially since the homer-happy days of the steroid era. And it's never happened on the South Side. The team record for homers in a single season is 49, accomplished by Albert Belle in 1998. That mark was a tad overshadowed by what Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa did that year.

But the point is that if Jimenez reached the 50-homer mark, it would be a new White Sox record.

Why can't he do it? Crickets.

Jimenez has the power to do such a thing, hitting 31 home runs in a rookie season that still featured plenty of growing pains. Put those behind him, and who knows how many balls he can launch to the fan deck in center field.

A lot of the focus this winter and this spring is on improving his defense, which looked nowhere near as ready for dominance as his bat did in 2019. But manager Rick Renteria constantly talks about how Jimenez and his fellow White Sox youngsters are just scratching the surface of what they'll be able to do in their careers. If that's the case, then White Sox fans better brace themselves for some spectacular feats on the South Side over the next decade. Jimenez hitting 50 homers might just be one of them.

That's a maybe for the time being, though. What's a certainty is that Jimenez and this revamped White Sox lineup look primed for a far more powerful 2020 campaign.

In 2019, the White Sox were one of just six teams to hit fewer than 200 home runs. Their team slugging percentage of .414 was the sixth worst in baseball. This while the division-rival Minnesota Twins set a new major league record with 307 home runs, using all that might to win 101 games and the AL Central crown.

That's the prize the White Sox have their sights on this season. To win it, they'll need a power boost. Well, that's what Rick Hahn's front office tried to provide this offseason, adding Edwin Encarnacion (34 homers in 2019) as the new DH, Yasmani Grandal (28 homers) as the new No. 1 catcher, Nomar Mazara (19 homers) as the new right fielder and Luis Robert (32 homers in the minor leagues) as the new center fielder. That's four new everyday bats in a lineup that already included Jose Abreu (33 homers in 2019), Jimenez (31 homers), Yoan Moncada (25 homers) and Tim Anderson (18 homers).

While the baseball that many believe led to the kinds of inflated homer numbers that teams like Twins put up in 2019 is slated for change in 2020, many of those White Sox haven't reached the crest of their power-hitting wave. Jimenez, Moncada, Anderson, Mazara and obviously Robert are still young, still developing and could still have a lot more power production in them.

In other words, yes, this is a powerful lineup. And it's expected to get even more powerful.

"Our lineup has now been stretched out a little bit more. It's a little deeper, which is huge for us," Renteria said. "Mazara and what we believe he might be able to bring to the table, and another year of growth for the guys that are here. The power potential in terms of just having guys with solid experience, obviously power. Now you've got some protection, a little bit more. And so we'll continue to try to see how we develop that lineup composition, but certainly have many options at hand and we'll do the best we can to make it work."

No matter how you want to stack them up, Renteria is right. Last season, the White Sox had the four long-term centerpieces of their order — Anderson, Moncada, Abreu and Jimenez — and a half season of All-Star caliber production from James McCann. This season, the lineup contains productive and powerful options all the way toward the bottom. That's a big change from what fans have watched on a nightly basis during these rebuilding years and is a big part of the reason there are realistic playoff expectations on the South Side.

None of the newcomers has a more powerful profile than Encarnacion. His 297 homers since 2012 are the most in the majors. He's hit at least 30 home runs in each of the last eight seasons. And despite playing in just 109 games with the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners last season, he still ranked 12th in the American League in long balls.

He's also known Jimenez since the young White Sox star was 14 years old. Who knows if Encarnacion can take much credit for Jimenez becoming a dangerous hitter in his own right, but Jimenez is happy to give Encarnacion credit for the impact he's made in his life — and the impact he thinks he'll make in the White Sox clubhouse.

"Now, to play with Edwin, in the same lineup, for me is really exciting," Jimenez said. "After I found out he was going to sign with us, I said, 'Welcome home.' And he said, 'Yeah, now I’m on a really good team and we can change the game.' So now I think we have a really good lineup, and we’re going to change the game, too.

"He gave me a lot of advice before I signed. The first advice I’ll always have with me: Don’t get crazy and don’t change because you have money. That is one of the biggest advice I’ve ever had from him. Before I got to the majors, he said, 'Don’t try to do too much and just show what you do always.' And that was the other advice he gave me.

"I appreciate him because he’s always treated me as a kid he loves. For me, it’s good to have a veteran who takes care of me.

"He’s the veteran on the team. You can see, he hits with a lot of power. And he’s a good teammate. So I’m guessing he’s going to (have the same impact he’s had) on me on the other guys, too."

The fans in the bleachers are hoping Encarnacion has an impact on them, too.

Up and down the lineup, those fans should see a lot more activity this season. Maybe that even means catching some of the 50 or more balls Jimenez could send into the seats.

"Why not?" Jimenez repeated. "Yeah, it’s a big number, but my goal is every year to have better numbers than the past year. So I think, one day, I can hit 50 plus. But let’s see."

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