Over the next few weeks, BP South Side will be reviewing the performance of all 51 players who suited up for the 2017 White Sox. Players whose seasons were particularly noteworthy will get their own standalone article, while smaller contributors or those who were traded/cut will be grouped together. We’ll do our best to summarize and analyze what each player brought to this year’s club, what we learned, didn’t learn, and what it all means for his future with the team.
In the BPSS Slack chat we’ve brought up on a number of occasions which player will be most commonly missed 4-5 years from now in the Sporcle quiz where you need to name every player who suited up for the 2017 White Sox. There are a good number of candidates, but Al Alburquerque is undoubtedly one of the favorites. The White Sox began the season with a really good bullpen. Too good, really, for a team with no notion of contending. Rick Hahn did just as he should, of course, and traded every single reliever with any semblance of value. The White Sox, by rule, are required to have players on their roster capable of taking the mound and throwing baseballs in the direction of home plate, and Albuquerque did just that for all of eight innings, striking out five and allowing one run. Alburquerque was once more than an afterthought of a reliever; he was actually quite good with the Tigers back in 2014. Relievers are a confusing bunch. There’s a non-zero chance Alburquerque throws meaningful innings for a team again somewhere down the road, but chances are it won’t be with the White Sox.
Cody Asche is the exact type of player who would’ve drawn the ire of White Sox Twitter had he been employed during a season in which the White Sox were expected to contend. A failed prospect makes sense as a flier on a rebuilding team, however. Still, it didn’t take long for the White Sox to figure out that Matt Davidson was at least good in the dinger department while Asche wasn’t good in any department. The former Phillie made the White Sox out of Spring Training and promptly hit .105/.177/.175 in 62 plate appearances before being jettisoned to Triple-A Charlotte, never to be seen again. He actually played quite well for the Knights, putting up a .887 through the rest of the season, but that merely serves as yet another example of the difference in competition level between Triple-A and the majors.
Quick: Guess who threw the most relief innings for the White Sox in 2017. Give up? Well, it’s Chris Beck with 64. Since he was drafted in 2012, Beck’s fastball has always been lively enough to envision a world in which he could become an asset in the bullpen. But his emergence as an innings eater for the White Sox this season came more out of necessity than productivity, as he posted a 6.47 ERA in those 64 innings pitched. There were only 11 pitchers in baseball this season who threw as many innings as Beck with a worse ERA. The problem? The same as it’s always been with Beck: Too many walks. He’s now tossed 95 1/3 innings in his professional career and has a BB/9 of 5.0. Beck is an organizational soldier, if nothing else. After all, someone had to throw those innings. But at 27 years old and with nearly 100 below average innings under his belt, the chances of him turning into a bullpen asset look increasingly slim.
In 2012 veteran journeyman Dan Johnson got a late season call from the White Sox and recorded 31 plate appearances, hitting .364/.547/.818 fueled almost entirely by a 3 homer game on the last day of the regular season. Rob Brantly’s 2017 line won’t look quite as impressive, but in 36 plate appearances he put up a .290/.389/.516 line that … probably means nothing in the long run. Catchers are eternally weird, and the offensive threshold is such that there’s a chance Brantly could stick around as a backup during the next couple of years of the rebuild, but there’s certainly no guarantee he’s even on the team for next year.
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