The Chicago White Sox fell to the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series, and could only win one game out of four.
A season that looked promising ended in a span of a week.
The White Sox are very good, with talented hitters such as Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Andrew Vaughn, and Gavin Sheets; plus several brilliant starters and a solid bullpen.
But they are flawed, and have specific needs for 2022.
3. Designated Hitter
Thankfully, this is one of the easiest positions to fill for the White Sox.
However, it should be noted that it was a weakness nonetheless, and nearly all season long.
The White Sox’s designated hitters were ninth in the AL out of 15 teams in wRC+ from that spot, with 106.
The wRC+ stat means weighted Runs Created Plus and calculates offensive production in relation to the league average, which is 100.
At first, the position was well-covered with the impressive start of Yermin Mercedes.
But he started to fade and the White Sox didn’t get consistent production from the spot from that point on.
Exciting rookie hitter Andrew Vaughn wasn’t a disaster, but didn’t quite put it all together either with a .235/.309/.396 line and 15 home runs.
Perhaps the best option for the White Sox in the second half and the playoffs was Sheets.
He was one of the few White Sox that played well in the ALDS against Houston, and hit .250/.324/.506 with 11 homers in just 179 plate appearances.
If Chicago doesn’t bring a veteran bat capable of performing at an above-average level, maybe they could be better off letting Vaughn and Sheets battle for at-bats from the DH spot.
They both have the talent to be successful there.
2. Second Base
Nick Madrigal, the speedy rookie who impressed with his contact ability ever since he was in college, hit .305/.349/.425 in 54 games with Chicago before going to the Cubs in a trade.
The club wanted an elite reliever, and got one in Craig Kimbrel (well, at least that was the idea).
But to land him, they had to surrender Madrigal.
Now, the club has no second baseman of the future.
I've been a Sox fan since #4 was playing short.
I would rather have Madrigal at 2BANY DAY than kimbrel on the mound.
I would ALSO rather have him that the failure playing 2B after he left.
— Ron Noname (@SEESTHROUGHIT) October 13, 2021
Garcia slashed .267/.335/.376 with only five homers in 474 plate appearances.
Hernandez, on the other hand, was worse, with a .232/.309/.299 in Chicago.
The team needs to address second base for the 2022 season.
1. Starting Pitching
Truth be told, the White Sox’s starting pitching was very good.
Dylan Cease was also very good, and much improved, with a 3.91 ERA and a 31.9 strikeout rate.
Changeup artist Lucas Giolito was his usual good self, and finished with a 3.53 ERA.
There are two problems, though.
One, is that veteran starter Dallas Keuchel was really bad, with a 5.28 ERA in 162 frames.
And two, Rodon is slated to hit free agency after the season, and given the year he just had, he will command a lot of money.
Carlos Rodón, pending free agent:
"It's been an interesting road for me, and to have the opportunity to pitch in an important game, it meant a lot. So thank you, White Sox fans, and thank you to the organization."
— Vinnie Duber (@VinnieDuber) October 12, 2021
Starting pitching depth is a sensible need in Chicago if they want to make it further than the first round of the postseason, and re-signing Rodon is a must.