Well this weekend wasn’t a ton of fun. It wasn’t very surprising either. The White Sox are one of the worst teams in baseball and the Astros are the defending World Series champions and playing like it, sitting at 61-31 after completing the weekend sweep of the Sox. But it was not all that long ago that the Astros were in a very similar situation to our White Sox.
The Astros won 55 games in 2012, 51 in 2013, and 70 the next year. The team was undergoing a full tear down rebuild much like the one the Sox are undergoing now. The result? Two playoff appearances in three years, and a third on the way. Oh, and a ring in 2017.
The White Sox are slogging through one of their worst seasons in franchise history, dropping to 30-60 following Sunday’s loss. While most fans are understanding of the process that a rebuild is, many are beginning to get anxious as the progress begins to feel slower than many had hoped. Lucas Giolito has struggled mightily, Yoan Moncada has yet to consistently find an effective plate approach, Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez are still playing in the minors, and injuries continue to effect every level.
These worrisome signs have caused many fans to begin to question whether the rebuild will ever truly come to fruition. But it wasn’t always easy for the Astros. They did not have the same head start on the rebuild that the Sox did, and had to do it through the draft. They were far from flawless in the drafting process. In back to back years Houston whiffed on first overall picks. Selecting Mark Appel in 2013, and Brady Aiken in 2014. Neither player ever saw the majors.
As for the players that did work out, their paths to the majors required a fair amount of patience as well. George Springer, the team’s All-Star centerfielder, was drafted in 2012, and did not make his Major League debut until mid-way through the 2014 season. Once in the majors, Springer struggled through his first year with a .231 average (Yoan Moncada is hitting .232) Carlos Correa, the teams All-Star shortstop, spent three and a half years in the Astros farm system before busting out in 2015. Finally, the teams all-world, five time All-Star, MVP winning second baseman Jose Altuve, spent nearly five years in the minors before finally making his way to Houston.
The team also got lucky on some non first round picks, such as Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton, who evolved into premier front line starters. By no means was the rebuild ever an easy process for the Astros, and their future did not even begin taking shape until after consecutive 100 loss seasons.
No one can truly predict the future, and we won’t know the true outcome of the White Sox rebuild for a few years. But fans should take solace watching a team like the Astros and watching all their stars. There is comfort in knowing that while the Astros went through some rebuild pains that make the Sox’ struggles look minor, there was a championship brewing in the minors. Every rebuild is a process, and it’s never an easy one and it will always require patience. But if there was ever a testament to the virtues of patience in a rebuild, George Springer, Jose Altuve and the rest of the defending champs are just that. The Sox will soon be that team beating up on other teams in four game weekend sweeps.
Follow David Wildman on Twitter—Feature Photo Credit: Photo Credit: David J. Phillip / AP