2020 Chicago White Sox Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
The Chicago White Sox are always going to be the Little Brother to the Big Brother Cubs in the Windy City. That's just fact. Wrigley Field is in a major fun area of town and a historic ballpark, and the Cubs have maybe the second-biggest fan base in MLB behind the Yankees. They Cubbies helped build their fan base through years of being on WGN TV nationally.
On the flip side, the White Sox's Guaranteed Rate Field, while a fine stadium, isn't exactly in the best of neighborhoods and the White Sox haven't had a big star like a Kris Bryant or Javy Baez in many years. Shoot, the Pale Hose even have a Cubs retread for their manager in Rick Renteria. X
That said, it sure seems like the fortunes of the two franchises are trending in opposite directions entering 2020 - honestly, it feels like 2015. That year, the Cubs ended a drought of six straight seasons without a playoff berth and announced themselves as contenders for the next few seasons with a handful of stellar young position players.
The White Sox haven't made the postseason since 2008 and haven't had a winning record since 2012 after finishing 72-89 a year ago. However, there's no question they now have some of the most intriguing young talent in the major leagues (or to be there very soon), and often-frugal owner Jerry Reinsdorf finally opened his wallet this offseason.
The South Siders open the season at home on March 26 against Kansas City.
White Sox 2020 Projected Lineup
That December 2016 trade of ace Chris Sale to Boston looked incredibly lopsided in favor of the Red Sox until last year. Sale started breaking down and the biggest piece back of that deal (more on the second-biggest below), infielder Yoan Moncada, finally broke out. The Cuban hit .315 with 25 homers, 79 RBIs and 10 steals for a WAR of 4.6. Moncada still strikes out too much and doesn't walk enough, but he seems comfortable as a big leaguer now.
Chicago's other breakout star was shortstop Tim Anderson, who won the AL batting title with a .335 average even though his OBP was just .357. Anderson walked a scant 15 times in 498 at-bats, meaning some regression is probably coming on that average. Eloy Jimenez is a future AL home run champion, batting .267 with 31 bombs in 122 games. Jose Abreu was re-signed this offseason after leading the club with 33 dingers and 123 RBIs. The Cuban is a terrific clubhouse guy; that clubhouse is very Latin-based, so keeping Abreu was important.
The Sox will have two new starting outfielders in mega-prospect Luis Robert in center and former Texas Ranger Nomar Mazara in right. Chicago is so high on Robert it already has signed him to a huge extension and now has no reason to stash him in the minors. The top free-agent catcher on the market was Yasmani Grandal, and he's now on the South Side. So is Edwin Encarnacion at DH. Second base looks shaky with Leury Garcia, but another top prospect, Nick Madrigal, figures to be up maybe by late April to take over there.
Here's what the lineup may look like once Madrigal is with the big club:
3B Yoan Moncada (B)
OF Luis Robert (R)
1B Jose Abreu (R)
DH Edwin Encarnacion (R)
OF Eloy Jimenez (R)
C Yasmani Grandal (B)
OF Nomar Mazara (L)
SS Tim Anderson (R)
2B Nick Madrigal (R)
There's a lot of power here but a scary amount of strikeouts and lack of walks. Encarnacion is well past his prime. Mazara can't hit lefties. Any team, though, would take the young quartet of Robert, Moncada, Jimenez and Madrigal.
White Sox 2020 Projected Rotation & Closer
The other big piece of the Sale trade was fire-balling pitcher Michael Kopech, who once hit 105 mph on a radar gun. He showed some very promising signs late in the 2018 season but missed all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery. Needless to say, the Sox are going to limit him this year. Last May, the most experienced rotation guy, Carlos Rodon, had his own Tommy John surgery so anything the team gets from him in 2020 is probably gravy.
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Lucas Giolito - he came over in the Adam Eaton trade with Washington -- was one of MLB's worst starters in 2018 and one of the AL's best in 2019 at 14-9 with a 3.41 ERA and 228 strikeouts in 176.2 innings. Which guy is he?
Chicago added two veteran lefties in the rotation in former AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel - after Zack Wheeler turned down more money from Chicago to join the Phillies -- and Gio Gonzalez. That Keuchel is a ground-ball pitcher will be very helpful in the bandbox that is Guaranteed Rate Field.
Here's what the rotation should look like until Kopech returns:
Closer Alex Colome converted 30 of 33 save opportunities and went 4-5 with a 2.80 ERA last year and is back. If the Sox aren't contending in July, expect him to be traded in the final year of his deal.
White Sox Futures Odds
Chicago is given am "over/under" win total of 82.5 (over a -125 favorite). The White Sox are +350 third-favorites in the AL Central, +1600 for the pennant and +4000 to win it all. Moncada is +8000 to win AL MVP and Jimenez +10000. Encarnacion is +5000 to win the HR title and has a total of 35.5. Giolito is +2200 for AL Cy Young.
White Sox 2020 Predictions
The AL Central is very winnable. The Indians traded Corey Kluber and are already dealing with an injury to fellow pitcher Mike Clevinger. Superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor might be traded. The Twins are pretty good but probably played well over their heads in 2019. The Tigers and Royals are awful so all three teams should beat up on them.
PECOTA projects the Sox to finish with 82 wins. I think 84-85 wins is doable but not quite a playoff spot - look out in 2021. Go "over" that win total.
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