Debunking the White Sox’s slow start: Reason to worry for the South Side?



A “blackout” crowd overflows Guaranteed Rate Field for the first home playoff game in 13 years

Sam Westerman, Staff Writer


The Sox have been my lifelong favorite team. I’ll only spend a Sunday watching the Bears if they are good. I’ve never really dwelled on a Bulls or Blackhawks loss. Hate is a strong word, and I hate the Cubs. Nevertheless, after battling through a double-digit amount of seasons, the last year and a half have been exceptionally more difficult.

In the 2021 ALCS, the White Sox lost to the Houston Astros, a series we all want back. All of the games in the series could have gone our way, but the ChiSox just came up short.

Immediately after the playoffs ended that year, Vegas released their early World Series odds. According to PointsBook Sports Bet, the White Sox were given the 3rd best odds in the entire league.

The 2021-2022 offseason was alright. We sadly did not resign our ace Carlos Rodon, but we plugged the team’s missing holes. Trading away Craig Kimbrel, a closer from the Cubs, was a move I was fond of. We brought in a reliever who dissected us in the playoff series, Kendall Graveman. 

To fill the gap in the outfield, we took A.J. Pollack, an above-average center from the Dodgers. I was thrilled for the following season, and I ended up being irate with the result.

In summary, the 2022 season was a complete letdown. We finished at perfectly .500, losing and winning 81 games.

The most comparable record to this year was our 2016 team, who went 78-84. To be straightforward, that team was a joke. Even though we were solid at pitching, led by Jose Quintana, Chris Sale, and Carlos Rodon, the Sox only had three solid batters: Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, and Adam Eaton.

On paper, the 2022 squad is leaps and bounds ahead of 2016. We fleeced the Cubs in 2017, giving them Quintana and bringing in an even better prospect, Dylan Cease. We also were given Eloy Jimenez, an all-star. Both Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez are better than all of the other players on the 2016 team, and Abreu and Anderson have only improved since that season. Abreu came up big in 2020, winning AL MVP, and TA7 earned his first all-star selection in 2021. All other positions were significant step-ups from 2016 for the rest of the team. 

It’s indescribable how much of a letdown last season was, and it is comical that we won only three more games than the 2016 team did. For those who don’t watch baseball, imagine the Bulls signing Kevin Durant during the offseason, only to lose to the Heat in the play-in tournament again.

Tony La Russa, the manager notorious for sleeping in the dugout, made an array of head-scratching decisions all year. From walking players at a 1-2 count to putting infielders in the outfield, inciting many errors, the door hit him on his way out.

Nevertheless, a genuinely talented team makes a subpar manager look good. This has happened in the NBA with Lakers coach Frank Vogel and in the NFL with Patriots’ Bill Belichek. The firepower of the Sox offense should’ve presented a perfect example of this.

Regardless of how much one believes the two are related, injuries and work ethic are why the ChiSox had one of their most disappointing seasons in franchise history.

The White Sox had six superstars along their offense. Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, and Yasmani Grandal are recognized around the league for their ability to swing the bat. Yet there was seldom a game where all six were in the lineup together.

No other team in baseball was injured nearly as much as the Sox. In one of the most ridiculous stats I’ve ever seen, someone discovered that the Chicago White Sox were the only team to deal with one injury in every anatomical region of the body. 

It’s fair to assume that our athletic training staff did not stress to the players the importance of preventing injuries as much as they should have. Saying that Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada’s injuries due to running to first base were entirely by chance would be laughable. Moreover, after becoming injured, multiple Sox players would be criticized for missing too many games after being cleared by doctors to play.

This connects to the second problem previously mentioned. It was shocking to see a team acknowledge that they are among the most talented in the league and have no desire to use it for the greater good.

Liam Hendriks, arguably the greatest closer in the MLB, described it as a feeling of complacency. In other words, the feeling inside the clubhouse was that the group was satisfied with their situation to the point where they were not motivated to compete. They could not break this emotional status for the entire year.


Many believe there is reason for concern after starting the 2023 season with a 21-31 record. I don’t, and here’s why:


Our new manager, Pedro Grifol, is single-handedly eliminating every relevant problem from last year. With the exception of Eloy Jimenez (made of glass), our optimal lineup has already been put into play the same amount as last season. My two favorite relievers, Garret Crochet and Liam Henriks, will soon return from injuries they did not experience on the field this year.

Crochet missed the entirety of the 2022 season due to Tommy John surgery, mandatory after damage to the lefty’s UCL. Henriks is now cancer free after being diagnosed with stage 4 of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in January.

Moreover, Grifol is actively instilling motivation into the group. He is committed to enforcing a change in intrapersonal relations within the clubhouse, building team chemistry off four pillars: “respect, hard work, care, and love.” 

Grifol’s approach to creating a positive environment is coupled with immense discipline. The 53-year-old is determined to show the fanbase that the blunders of 2022 have come to a halt. On April 29th, center-fielder Luis Robert led off in the first inning. Swinging at the first pitch he saw, the ball came softly off his bat and dribbled into the infield. Robert’s absence of effort on his journey to first base was why he was thrown out.

“I spoke to him, and I told him that we got to run hard down the line,” Grifol explained in a postgame interview. “That’s it.”

There’s a long way to travel from now until October for the South Siders. It’s no given, but the door to a serious playoff run is still open.