2018 Chicago White Sox Expert Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
Are the White Sox rebuilding, or have they just given up? It's been a fair question to ask at times the last couple of years. But there is a bit of talent here, and the more optimistic out there could believe that they are ready to turn a corner and take some steps forward. We're not talking a corner like the Twins turned last year, to be clear. But the upside for the team this year is that they are not awful, and that will be a welcome change. They are helped by being grouped with as bad a bottom half of a division as you can find. But will that be enough? What does the season hold for this team?
White Sox 2018 Projected Lineup
The White Sox fully committed to a rebuild over the last couple of years, eventually extracting good value for the assets they had. And early on last year it seemed like it was really paying off quickly as they jumped out to a 15-12 start. They obviously couldn't sustain that, though, and went 55-80 the rest of the way. By the end of last year every veteran they had that anyone else wanted was gone, with the exceptions of Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia. Keeping those guys around as mentors for the youngsters make sense - they are both productive and under team control at reasonable prices through next season. They will have value if and when the team wants to extract it, but for now they make the team a lot better with their presence. Jettisoning most everyone with a pulse is an approach the Tigers are taking right now, but unlike the Tigers the White Sox have a lot of exciting young talent - some they developed their own, and some from those trades - to come along and fill the gaps. It isn't going to be fast and easy, but if they have some luck it will all pay off.
Yoan Moncada, who they got as part of the Chris Sale trade with the Red Sox, is a gem of this current group. His results were mixed in 54 games last year, but the team justifiably loves him, and he should get a chance to lead off this year. The upside is massive, but like everything about this team patience will be required.
Tim Anderson is a guy to watch because he is going to be a good indicator of how well this team is managing and connecting with their youngsters. Anderson, a shortstop who was a 2013 first-round pick, was brilliant in 2016 as a rookie. The team gambled and gave him the largest extension ever for a guy who had played less than one full year - six years and $25 million. If he kept on that rookie year trajectory it would be an incredible bargain. But his numbers fell off a cliff last year, and suddenly that deal didn't look so good. The talent is obviously there, so if the team can get him back on track it could be sign that they have the mojo for dealing with the kind of player they will be dealing with a lot in the future - raw with upside.
A name to stick in the back of your mind is Eloy Jimenez. The outfielder is the fourth-ranked prospect in baseball. He won't start with the big team, but he should find his way up. A speedster with a high percentage contact bat, he could be something special in a hurry. They could use him - and anything else they can get - because outside of Abreu and Garcia hitting third and fourth there is nothing certain in terms of short term production in this lineup. Runs likely won't come in bulk.
White Sox 2018 Projected Rotation and Closer
James Shields is the 'ace' of this team, though that title is obviously a stretch in his case. He was lousy last year, but if he can get on track early he is very likely to be traded - he's in the last year of a contract that pays him a ridiculous $22 million this year, but the Padres are paying half so he'd be attractive as long as he isn't the 2017 version of himself. Beyond that the rotation is a whole lot of guys who either need to prove themselves or never have and never will. Carlos Rodon is out until June or so, but he is intriguing if he comes back strong. He's only 25, so I'm sure they'd love him to develop into a front-end starter to lead this rebuild. Right now, though, this is not going to be a great rotation.
The bullpen is interesting because it could see a lot of change, too. Joakim Soria has been down from his peak, but if he starts strong the closer will be dealt. Guys like Danny Farquhar and Nate Jones, a setup guy who is the most exciting arm in the pen, should probably be renting instead of buying a place right now, too. As with any bad team, the bullpen is going to see a lot of different faces this year.
White Sox Futures Odds
BetOnline has the White Sox at +10000 to win the World Series, which has them ahead of just five teams - and needless to say, those are not the good teams. They are one of three teams tied at +5000 to win the AL pennant, which puts them ahead of only the lowly Tigers at +12500. And they are tied with those Tigers at +3300 when it comes to winning the AL Central. Cleveland is running away with that race at -500. The season win total sits at 68.5, with the "over" favored at -120. Jose Abreu is a longshot to win the home run crown at +8000.
White Sox 2018 Predictions
I am not quite as optimistic as bettors seem to be about this team. They like the over, but at best I think the number is fair. The young talent here runs deep, and I am bullish in the longer term, but there are still some growing pains ahead, and they just don't have enough experience to weather the storm. By next year we should start to see things meshing, but right now I think it will be a long year. Anything above 65 wins in fine in my books, though. Like I said before, it's all about patience right now.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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