Now is the time for White Sox to start thinking about playoffs
Before playing the Tigers in the Sunday's final game of the regular season, White Sox manager Rick Renteria met with his players.
In addition to reminding them to follow organization guidelines regarding "conditioning, fitness and baseball readiness" after taking a break, Renteria made another request.
"Watch the playoff games," he said. "Watch and see where you want to be, see if you can imagine yourself there. You've got to think about it, talk about it, visualize it."
The Sox haven't participated in postseason play since 2008 and they haven't have a winning record since 2012.
They did win 72 games this year, a 10-game improvement over last season.
"Overall, 10 games better, we had a lot of little ups and downs in terms of the health and things of that nature with our players, but they kept grinding and they kept getting better," Renteria said. "I do think we certainly have things to improve upon. I think ultimately the experiences and their understanding of the things we have to correct they now see.
"I think they see there's a tremendous amount of energy that's expended on a daily basis, and focusing and concentrating on nine innings of baseball at the major league level. I think they've learned, they're continuing to learn that."
Much more important than the 10-game win improvement are the big steps up taken by American League batting champion Tim Anderson, Cy Young candidate Lucas Giolito, future MVP candidate Yoan Moncada, Rookie of the Year candidate Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease and Aaron Bummer.
Zack Collins also finished his rookie season on a positive note.
That's a pretty strong core moving into 2020.
"Fans should be excited for the future," said Anderson, who had the highest average in the major leagues at .335. "We're going to continue to work and I think we're making a step toward where we're trying to go. Coming into the spring, we're ready for it."
The White Sox's success next season is going to hinge on the roster additions that are made this winter. General manager Rick Hahn has money to spend on free agents and he has prospects to trade for veteran help.
For the first time in three years, Hahn has a base to build around. The Sox will also welcome back injured starter Michael Kopech next season, and top prospects Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal are on the way.
"We're going to be better on Opening Day than we are right now, and I think we're probably going to be better on June 1 than we are on Opening Day," Hahn said. "And at the end of next year, we're going to be better than how we started. In terms of general expectations for wins and losses or playoff competitiveness, let's wait until we get to (spring training) and see what changes, what augmentations we've been able to make over the course of this offseason before deciding exactly how close we are to where we want to be."
Eloy Jimenez was named AL Rookie of the Month for September.
In 24 games over the final month of the regular season, the 22-year-old left fielder batted .340/.383/.710 with 8 doubles, 9 home runs and 25 RBI.
For the season, Jimenez slashed .267/.315/.513 and he lead AL rookies with 31 homers, 79 RBI and an .828 OPS.