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Know your enemy: The Chicago White Sox

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What have Central Division foes been up to this off-season?

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

After a weird 2020 season, baseball is back hoping to return to more normalcy this year. It looks like teams will try to play the full 162-game schedule, which means we won’t have to see Central Division teams 90 percent of the time. Still, our Central Division foes will make up nearly half the schedule, so let’s take a tour and see what our rivals have been up to. First, we look at the Chicago White Sox.

Chicago White Sox

2020 record: 35-25 (pro-rated to 95 wins in a full-season)

2020 pythag: 36-24 (97 wins)

2021 ZIPS projection: 87-75

2021 PECOTA projection: 83-79

Key additions: Tim Beckham, Adam Eaton, Liam Hendriks, Lance Lynn

Key losses: Alex Colome, Dane Dunning, Edwin Encarnacion, Gio Gonzalez, Nomar Mazara, James McCann

The White Sox began their rebuild a full year or two before the Royals did and they are in full compete mode. They made huge strides last year, enjoying their first winning season since 2012. They finished with the fourth-best record in the league, reaching the expanded playoffs, where they lost in three games to the Athletics.

The Sox were one of the few teams actively spending to improve their ballclub. They signed closer Liam Hendriks to a four-year, $54 million deal, the second-largest contract signed by a pitcher this off-season after only Trevor Bauer. They also traded young pitcher Dane Dunning with a prospect to the Rangers for veteran starting pitcher Lance Lynn, who led the league in innings pitched last year. But the biggest addition may be new skipper Tony LaRussa. The last time the Hall of Fame manager was in the dugout was 2011, but he has come out of retirement at age 76 to take over a dynamic young team.

The White Sox can mash, leading the league in home runs last year and finishing second in runs scored. Veteran first baseman José Abreu won MVP last year, but he may be overshadowed this year by phenom outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. Andrew Vaughn, the third overall pick in the 2019 draft, could add even more power to the lineup. Shortstop Tim Anderson has become one of the top hitters in the league, as well as one of the most brash, having already declared the White Sox the best team in the league.

Projected Lineup (2020 numbers)

White Sox projected lineup

Lineup PA HR AVG OBA SLG
Lineup PA HR AVG OBA SLG
SS Tim Anderson (R) 221 10 .322 .357 .529
RF Adam Eaton (L) 176 4 .226 .285 .384
C Yasmani Grandal (S) 194 8 .230 .351 .422
1B José Abreu (R) 262 19 .317 .370 .617
LF Eloy Jiménez (R) 226 14 .296 .332 .559
3B Yoán Moncada (S) 231 6 .225 .320 .385
CF Luis Robert (R) 227 11 .233 .302 .436
DH Andrew Vaughn (R) 0 0 - - -
2B Nick Madrigal (R) 109 0 .340 .376 .369
Bench PA HR AVG OBA SLG
C Jonathan Lucroy (R) 0 0 - - -
IF Leury Garcia (S) 63 3 .271 .317 .441
OF Adam Engel 93 3 .295 .330 .477

Lucas Giolito heads a talented White Sox rotation with workhorses Lance Lynn and Dallas Keuchel behind him. Dylan Cease has some terrific stuff, but he led the league in walks last year, and his strikeout rate declined significantly. The fifth spot will likely be between right-hander Reynaldo López and left-hander Carlos Rodón, but the spot could eventually belong to prospect Michael Kopech, who missed the last two seasons due to Tommy John surgery and COVID-19.

The White Sox already had a pretty good bullpen last year with the fifth-best reliever ERA, and they only blew four leads all season when leading after six innings. But Hendriks has been flat out dominant the last two seasons with a 1.79 ERA and 13.1 strikeouts-per-nine innings, and will give them someone to shut the door in the ninth. They have some intriguing young arms in the pen such as 2020 first-round pick Garret Crochet, who can hit triple digits from the left side.

White Sox pitching

Rotation ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9
Rotation ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9
RHP Lucas Giolito 3.48 3.19 72.1 12.1 3.5
LHP Dallas Keuchel 1.99 3.08 63.1 6.0 2.4
RHP Lance Lynn 3.32 4.19 84.0 9.5 2.7
RHP Dylan Cease 4.01 6.36 58.1 6.8 5.2
RHP Reynaldo López 6.49 7.63 26.1 8.2 5.1
Bullpen ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9
RHP Liam Hendriks 1.78 1.14 25.1 13.1 1.1
LHP Aaron Bummer 0.96 1.80 9.1 13.5 4.8
RHP Evan Marshall 2.38 2.04 22.2 11.9 2.8
LHP Garrett Crochet 0.00 1.02 6.1 12.0 0.0
RHP Codi Heuer 1.52 2.77 23.2 9.5 3.4

The White Sox tanked for several seasons to get to this point, but it has paid off with a roster loaded with talent. The Tony LaRussa hire raised some eyebrows, particularly after it was revealed he had a DUI in the year before the hire. Whether he can relate to a young club and a game that now leans heavily on analytics could determine how far the White Sox go this year.

Poll

How many games will the White Sox win this year?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    More than 90
    (155 votes)
  • 30%
    85-89
    (80 votes)
  • 8%
    80-84
    (23 votes)
  • 1%
    75-79
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Less than 75
    (4 votes)
266 votes total Vote Now