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A year ago the Chicago White Sox slogged through an 81-81 season that was highly disappointing given preseason expectations and their 2021 AL Central title. The hope was the ChiSox would rebound in 2023 and contend for a division title. Instead, Chicago is 7-17 and losers of six straight games. They have the third worst record and fourth worst run differential (minus-41) in baseball.

"You have to know I'm not in a good place right now. I'd be lying if I said I weren't concerned," White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams told the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this week. "But this is where we are. And I'm not so pleasant to be around right now, but you try to gain perspective. We have (138) games and 5 1/2 months left to make up (seven games in the division). If we are who we think we are we'll look back on this as a good test of character and drive."

Tuesday's loss to the Toronto Blue Jays (TOR 7, CWS 0) was the season in a nutshell. Mike Clevinger got hit hard (the White Sox have the sixth-highest rotation ERA in baseball) while the offense mustered only four singles (eighth-lowest slugging percentage) and one walk (third-lowest on-base percentage). Chicago also has the second highest chase rate. This team swings a lot.

The White Sox have some injuries, namely Tim Anderson (knee) and Yoan Moncada (back), and of course lockdown closer Liam Hendriks has been away from the team while receiving treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Injuries alone aren't enough to explain the 7-17 start though. Here's a look at what's gone wrong for the White Sox and what could come next.

1. Jiménez and Robert aren't hitting

When the ChiSox allowed stalwart José Abreu to leave as a free agent, they turned the middle of the lineup over to Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert. Both had strong but injury-interrupted seasons a year ago, and the expectation was they would take another step forward and become bona fide stars this year. It hasn't happened (yet). Jiménez and Robert have both started slowly.


















Strikeout rates that high and slash lines that low equal a lot of unproductive at-bats. Robert has batted second more often than not and Jiménez is the club's regular cleanup hitter, so they are occupying prominent lineup spots, and yet they've been comfortably below average at the plate. When two of your best players don't contribute, you're going lose. That's usually how it goes.

To be fair, Robert has played a spectacular center field in the season's first month. He leads baseball with seven defensive runs saved and he took a home run away from Matt Chapman earlier this week.

Robert has not been a total zero thanks to his glove. Jiménez is essentially a full-time DH though, and a DH hitting like that is how you wind up with minus-0.2 WAR in only 66 plate appearances. I'm honestly surprised it's only minus-0.2 WAR. Feels like the damage could be worse. Bottom line, these two core players have started rather slowly at the plate.

2. The new additions haven't done much

Andrew Benintendi is hitting .294/.348/.353 thus far and that is the most Andrew Benintendi line that ever Andrew Benintendied. Not great, not terrible, just fine. It's fine. Benintendi is a singles and some walks hitter and that's exactly what he's given the White Sox since signing his five-year, $75 million contract. Singles and some walks for a relatively low impact 96 OPS+.

Rookie right fielder Oscar Colás made the club out of spring training and he's going through some growing pains (.219/.286/.281), which is to be expected. Not every talented young player hits the ground running and produces right away. Still, Colás is in the lineup just about every game, so him not hitting just yet is a drag on the offense overall.

In five starts Clevinger has had two good outings and three not-so-good outings, and the .266/.366/.426 opponent's batting line with nearly as many walks (14) as strikeouts (18) in 24 1/3 innings suggest things might get worse before they get better. The underlying numbers (FIP, xERA, etc.) indicate he should have an ERA closer to 6.00 than his current 4.81.

Benintendi and Clevinger were Chicago's two notable free agent additions and Colás is the top prospect who made the jump into the big-league lineup. There's still plenty of season to play. Thus far though, these three haven't moved the needle much, and with Jiménez and Robert not hitting, and Lance Lynn and Michael Kopech pitching poorly, their lack of impact is more acute.

3. They keep blowing leads

In their 17 losses the White Sox have blown one four-run lead, four three-run leads, two two-run leads, and two one-run leads. They have led in nine of the 17 losses and have led by multiple runs in seven of the 17 losses. And not all these blown leads are on the bullpen. On several occasions the starter let things slip away in the middle innings. Sometimes even in the early innings.

Chicago's pitching staff has 19 meltdowns, which are pitching appearances that decrease the team's win probability by at least 6%. Only the very bad Oakland Athletics have more. Even with the offense being less than stellar, the White Sox have had leads! The pitching staff just isn't making those leads stand up. Protect four of those seven blown multi-run leads and we're talking about an 11-13 team instead of a 7-17 team. 11-13 isn't great, but it's much more palatable than 7-17.

Could they sell at the deadline?

According to SportsLine, the White Sox have seen their postseason odds slip from 22.0% on Opening Day to 19.3% on April 26. FanGraphs has a much harsher assessment: 30.5% on Opening Day to 7.1% on April 26. With 138 games remaining and six postseason spots per league, it is way too early to throw in the towel on the 2023 White Sox, even with a 7-17 record.

But, if things do not improve between now and July, then yeah, selling at the deadline will have to be a consideration. Lucas Giolito, Yasmani Grandal, and Reynaldo López are pure rentals. Lynn has an $18 millon club option for 2024. Aaron Bummer and Kendall Graveman are signed through 2024 at affordable salaries. There are some quality players to shop here.

Selling at the trade deadline does not have to mean starting a rebuild either. It could be a retool with an eye on 2024, when guys like Anderson, Benintendi, Colás, Jiménez, Robert, and Dylan Cease will still be around and in their primes. The New York Yankees sold at the 2016 trade deadline and went to the ALCS in 2017. That could be the model the White Sox try to follow.

Is Hahn's job safe?

This is a results-based business and the fact of the matter is that in the 10 full seasons since Rick Hahn was promoted to GM, the White Sox have made the postseason just twice, and one of the two was the 60-game pandemic season in 2020. Hahn guided the ChiSox through their firesale a few years ago (Chris Sale, José Quintana, etc.) and the result is this. It's not great.

Another postseason-less season could lead to a front office change on the South Side, particularly if the White Sox finish well below .500. If they fall a game or two short of the postseason, then maybe Hahn is safe. But things are approaching the point where someone will be scapegoated, and it's unlikely to be first year manager Pedro Grifol. It seems then that Hahn could be jeopardy if the ChiSox continue this slow start and again finish well short of expectations.