Another disappointing season has just wrapped up on the South Side with the White Sox finishing their fifth constitutive season coming in fourth place in the AL Central. With a record of 62-100 and breaking the Major League strike out record with 1,594 K’s, it was dismal to watch at times.
We can reflect on the season in many ways, receiving the third overall draft pick in the upcoming MLB draft is one positive. But there have been a few silver linings that stick out on the White Sox roster. Daniel Palka, Omar Narvaez, and Jace Fry have caught the attention of all fans. They have shown flashes of consistency and positivity for seasons to come.
In a season where Matt Davidson struggled, the White Sox needed someone to step up and become their power guy. If you would have told me in the beginning of the season that Daniel Palka would finish the year leading our White Sox and all rookies in homeruns, I’d think you were crazy. Palka slashed a .240/.294/.484 with 27 homeruns and a 0.6 WAR. No, his Batting Average and OBP aren’t where you would necessarily want them to be, but he has brought electricity to this team that was well needed.
Daniel Palka may just be the fan favorite for the White Sox. Everybody gets behind the phrases “Palkamania” and “Palka Smash”. He does everything the right way, his swagger, the way he presents himself on social media, to absolutely destroying baseballs on the diamond. It’s impossible not to love this guy.
When I say he destroys baseballs, I mean he annihilates them. The top four hardest home runs this year have been hit by Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, and yes you guessed it, Daniel Palka. His splits are highly noticeable, he hits better off of right handed pitching where he has hit 25 of his 27 home runs. Of those 27 home runs, four have come from pinch-hitting. This is a White Sox club record.
With a platoon of Palka batting against righties and Davidson hitting against lefties in the 2019 season, I expect nothing less than 45 home runs from the DH spot. The friendly competition for the DH spot will only benefit them as players and the White Sox in general as this season finishes and in seasons to come.
Narvaez who has been with the White Sox for three years now, has always been a consistent piece for the south siders. The signing of Wellington Castillo put Narvaez as the backup catcher for the 2018 season. When the news of Castillo’s PED suspension broke, the White Sox had a few options. Narvaez was one option but wasn’t the ideal one at the time. During the first two months of the season Narvaez was slashing a dismal line of .166/.274/.234. This brought about speculation of bringing up Seby Zavala who the White Sox are very high on. Ultimately, this didn’t happen and Rick Hahn decided to call up a familiar face in Kevan Smith instead.
Promoting Narvaez to be the starting catcher provided a huge spark in his game. In the next three months while Wellington was suspended, Omar slashed a ridiculous .351/.431/.546 making him one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball.
Seeing these kinds of improvements from Omar at age 26 as well as being signed through the 2023 season, could make the best kind of problem for Rick Hahn to pick between Zavala, Zack Collins, or Omar himself.
Like Narvaez, Jace Fry has made appearances before on the White Sox. However, the 2017 season didn’t go how Jace would have wanted it. In 11 games, Jace had a 10.80 ERA with a K/9 at 12.2. The following season Jace wasn’t invited to the Sox opening day roster.
Everything changed in his second season. With names like Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan, and Xavier Cedeno being traded away and Nate Jones missing the majority of the season with an injury, the White Sox bullpen needed a consistent reliever. On May 4, Jace got called up to prove that he belongs. And he did exactly that, Jace lowered his WHIP from 2.550 to 1.110 and had a 4.38 ERA and a 12.3 K/9. He has implemented his spot in the 2019 bullpen as well as years to come.
The future is extremely bright for The White Sox. With emergences of Palka, Narvaez, and Fry added to an already loaded Minor League system, things can get real interesting real fast. 2019 will come with many position battles that will start to shape up what our roster should look like when we are ready to contend.
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