CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Owner: Jerry Reinsdorf, worth $1.7 billion
World Series Titles: 1906, 1917, 2005
Greatest Player: 1B Frank Thomas
Division: AL Central
Payroll: 13th, $189,000,000
2022 Result: 81-81, 2nd place in AL Central
General Manager: Rick Hahn
Manager: Pedro Grifol, 53; Record: 0-0, 0 World Series Titles
Home Field: Guaranteed Rate Field, Capacity: 40,615
Key Addition: OF Andre Benintendi. Simply put, it wasn’t a very exciting offseason for the Chicago White Sox. Starter Mike Clevinger signed before a domestic violence investigation put his career on hold–hopefully forever. The big fish of the offseason, Benintendi, isn’t a star by any means. Still, he adds a legitimate contact bat to a lineup that badly needed one. He posted a 122 wRC+ and career bests in batting average (.304) and K% (14.8%). He’ll look to continue his resurgence towards the top of Chicago’s lineup.
Key Loss: 1B José Abreu. Once the face of the franchise, Abreu’s time in the Windy City has come to an end. He heads for greener championship pastures a thousand miles south in Houston. Losing him won’t derail their season, Andrew Vaughn projects to be a more than ample replacement. Still, losing a clutch, professional hitter is never fun. In his age-35 season, he experienced a decent power outage yet still produced at one of the highest rates of his career, with a 137 wRC+.
Key Injury: RP Garrett Crochet. This former first-round pick missed the entirety of 2022 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but was on his way to Chicago stardom as a fireballing reliever. In 2021, he pitched to the tune of a sub-3.00 ERA and double digit strikeouts per nine innings. He leans heavily on his upper-90s heater, but it’s his dominant slider and change up that have paved the way for his professional success. When he returns, he’ll be an instant upgrade to a bullpen that is in need of reinforcements.
Prospect Alert: SS Lenyn Sosa. Guys like Sosa have a knack for sticking around. The middle infielder was egregious in his first attempt against Major League pitching, posting a negative wRC+ (-4). That is 104% below league average. He was as bad as Aaron Judge was good in 2022. Regardless, scouts seem confident in the hit tool and the rest of his game is well-rounded enough to be considered a contingency plan up the middle. Expect to see him here and there over the course of the season.
Scouting Report: The White Sox once again enter April as one of the league’s most top-heavy teams. Having stars is good, obviously, but an ownership group that refuses to properly leverage their prominence into additional spending has stunted this roster’s potential. A critical injury to just a single star could put them permanently off the rails. Once again, Chicago is hoping for everything to break their way. It’s not a winning strategy.
I actually like most of their lineup. Vaughn is poised to break out in the middle of the order. Tim Anderson is one of the most fun players in baseball and still an effective contact hitter. Eloy Jiménex is a star through and through. Luis Robert Jr. is as dynamic as they come, too, and there’s reason to believe he is only getting started. There’s definitely some duct tape and positive thoughts holding the second half of this lineup together, but the offensive upside cannot be ignored.
Despite the big names in the rotation, pessimism is in the air. Clevinger, again, is a dirtbag. Lance Lynn isn’t getting any younger or healthier. Lucas Giolito was atrocious last season, and FanGraphs projects Dylan Cease to allow about 1.5 more runs per nine innings. If there’s a rotation set up to fall far below expectation this summer, it’s them. I do love Michael Kopech’s stuff, though.
Given the lack of depth, quality bullpen arms, and prospect ammunition, it’s easy to envision a world where the White Sox fall apart. They are the most high-variance team in the AL Central thanks to their stars. Will they be enough to earn a playoff spot?
Over/Under Wins: 78-84, 3rd place in AL Central
BetBasics Best Bet: There’s a reason the under on Chicago’s win-loss futures bet (set at 83.5) is at -120, compared to the over at +100. The floor on this White Sox team is really low, and DraftKings seems to believe so, too. I’d take the under here and assume that organizational incompetence will eventually fall in your favor.
One long shot that sticks out is Jiménez leading MLB in RBI. At +3500, it is certainly no guarantee. He has the 21st-best odds to top the leaderboards per DraftKings. However, if my win-loss assumptions are off, Jiménez may be off to the races. There is more than enough talent in this lineup to give him bountiful opportunities with men on base. I expect him to give Aaron Judge, Kyle Tucker, and Yordan Alvarez a run for their money.