Normally, I’d wait until the game is over to post the recap, but at this point does it really matter who wins? Rosell Herrera just hit a line drive out to the second baseman in the bottom of the 11th inning, and Brett Phillips, pinch running for Salvador Perez, borked it by getting doubled up off third. Freeze on a line drive, kids. It’s taught to every kid for a reason. Anyway, the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals have left a combined 31 men on base this game and counting, so...oof. And considering how bad both teams are, well, let’s just drop it for now and do something else, shall we?
Update: the White Sox won 4-2. Er, lost? Either way, the White Sox scored a pair of runs against Burch Smith in the top of the 12th inning and the Royals couldn’t match it.
Tonight won’t be remembered by many for good reason. The Royals and the White Sox are the second and third-worst teams in Major League Baseball, respectively, in the 2018 season, so it had that going for it. The game was an exercise in complete futility: despite terrible pitching, neither offense managed to score enough runs to pull away for all of regulation and at least a few innings of extra innings
But, for fans looking to glean something from this farce, this might have been the game that signified the changing of the shortstop guard from Alcides Escobar to Adalberto Mondesi for good.
Since 2015, Escobar has been worth a total of 1.6 Wins Above Replacement, per Fangraphs. The Venezuelan iron man was one of the most reliable shortstops in baseball for a five-year period between 2011 and 2015. But since then, Escobar has been less than stellar. In 2017 he lost his ability to be a threat on the basepaths, and in 2018 we saw Escobar lose all semblance of offensive effectiveness despite an increase in walk rate. Tonight, Escobar went 0-4 (and one walk where ball four almost hit him in the face), dropping his already anemic .219 batting average and .270 on base percentage down another tick.
But lo, just as Whit Merrifield’s fiery arrival finally displaced Omar Infante in 2016, Mondesi’s excellent 2018 campaign is currently making Escobar unneeded. In the bottom of the first inning, Mondesi cracked a sharply-hit double for his first hit of the night. In the bottom of the third inning, Mondesi poked a single into left field to score Merrifield for his second hit of the game. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Mondesi again singled to score Merrifield for his third hit of the game. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Mondesi’s speed allowed him to collect an infield single for his fourth hit of the game.
If you were wondering about the other players in this game, maybe don’t. As alluded to earlier, the pitching was not good. Eric Skoglund lasted five innings, but only struck out three against a pair of walks and a pair of hits. Glenn Sparkman somehow turned in two scoreless innings, allowing three hits and walking another. McCarthy turned in a perfect inning, but then immediately walked the leadoff man in the ninth inning.
And on the White Sox side, Carlos Rendon limited the Royals to those two runs off Mondesi’s bat, but he allowed five hits and walked another five in the process.
Regardless, Mondesi entered today with 1.7 WAR this season. With four hits and a stolen base, that total will go further northward. Against Escobar’s 1.6 WAR over his last four seasons—and 0.1 WAR over his last three—we are quite literally seeing a gigantic upgrade at the shortstop position for Kansas City happen before our very eyes.
Somebody is going to win this game. Nobody will care who. So it goes.