The 2017 Chicago White Sox were not a good team. Not a good team by design. Coming into the season with no plans to compete, this was a year devoted to developing the prospects and continuing to add depth to the organization through trades. The Sox finished 4th in the AL Central with a 67-95 record, securing the 4th pick in the 2018 draft. It was a stress free season on the South Side, everyone understanding that they were not going to compete for a playoff spot. Although the record would suggest it was an awful year, the team remained fun to watch throughout the season. The 2017 campaign proved just how bright the future is, with prospects showcasing the flashes of greatness that fans were looking for. There were guys who surprised people, guys who took a step back, and guys who continued to produce like they have for their whole careers.
Most Improved: Avisail Garcia
Avisail Garcia struggled for his first 4 seasons with the White Sox. This season was arguably the most important season in Avi’s career. He was signed to a 1 year- $3 million deal prior to the season, giving him a chance to prove he belongs in the future of the organization. He worked hard to prove his worth to the team, showing up to spring training in the best shape of his life. He had career high .330 BA, 18 home runs, 80 RBI, and a .380 OBP while also being the only White Sox player named to the All-Star game in Miami. Entering free agency this off-season, Avi’s performance has given the front office something to think about when they consider resigning Garcia. Avisail wants to stay in Chicago and see the whole rebuild through. Garcia said “Everybody wants to be a part of a winning team and I want to be a part of this team forever”. His production this season may have won himself a spot on the team for the future as the rebuild progresses.
Surprise Player: Nicky Delmonico
Coming into the season, not many fans knew the name Nicky Delmonico. The White Sox extended a spring training invite to Delmonico after he led the farm system with 17 home runs in 2016. Delmonico earned himself a roster spot hitting .266 with 5 home runs in 32 spring training games. He spent the better part of the season with AAA Charlotte before getting the call up on August 1st. He immediately impacted the lineup, setting a White Sox record, reaching base safely in his first 13 games to start his career. Nicky, who grew up a Red Sox fan, made the most of his Fenway Park debut, hitting his 1st career home run on August 3rd. His biggest home run of the year was his first career walk-off home run on September 27 against the Angels, which ended up clinching the 2nd wild card spot for the Minnesota Twins. Nicky Sweet Spot ended the year hitting .262 with 9 HR and 23 RBI in 43 MLB games. His play this season quickly made him a fan favorite and most likely earned himself the starting left field position to start the 2018 campaign.
Most Valuable Player: Jose Abreu
If the White Sox were a winning ball club, the stats Jose Abreu put up this season would have easily put him in the AL MVP conversation. He hit .304 with 33 Home runs and 102 RBIs. Jose also put himself in a couple of record books this year. Against the San Francisco Giants, Abreu hit the seventh cycle of 2017 and became just the sixth White Sox player to hit for the cycle. Abreu also joined one of the most rare and elite clubs in the game. He joined Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols as the only players ever to begin their career with four straight seasons of at least 25 home runs and 100 RBIs. Not only did Abreu continue to produce for the Sox and prove his worth on the field, he gradually became the leader in the clubhouse. Jose will continue to be the most influential and valuable player for the White Sox for years to come. His ability to be a leader for the young Latin players coming up through the farm system and a leader for everyone in the locker room as his English continues to get better is fantastic for the organization.
The organization committed to a plan for long term sustained success on the south side and the 2017 season was just the beginning of that plan. This year, the front office and the players put themselves in a great spot for the future. This season was all about trading away the remaining trade assets the White Sox had and letting the prospects grow in the minor leagues, progressing until they are eventually ready to make their way up onto the big league roster. Just about all the goals the front office had set for this year were reached and the fans got what was expected from the team in the first year of the rebuild process. The fans witnessed the spurts of greatness from the prospects that gave just a glimpse of what they will be capable in just a few short years.The road to a championship through the rebuild is a long one, but the architect Rick Hahn and rest of the organization have put the team in the best position possible for a decade of dominance on the south side.
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