2020 Staff Predictions: Team MVP, best/worst case scenarios, and White Sox final record

The Sox Machine staff did a pretty good job with 2019 predictions. Greg nailed the White Sox win total, while everyone had at least three playoff teams in the American and National League.

There is a lot of excitement heading into Opening Day 2020 for the White Sox, and it’s not just felt on the South Side. Las Vegas continues to take World Series bets on the White Sox daily and there is quite a bit of national buzz building around this roster. How do we feel about the upcoming 2020 season? Check out our predictions below:

Who is your pick to be the most valuable White Sox player in 2020?

Josh: Yasmani Grandal. We have discussed the impact Grandal will provide defensively and support the pitching staff. Still, the White Sox desperately needed a left-handed bat who could provide power and on-base ability. I won’t be shocked in a 60-game season if Grandal reaches 2.5-3.0 WAR to lead all major league catchers.

Greg: Luis Robert. The safe pick is Yasmani Grandal, but the way Grandal steadily accumulates production over time seems more valuable over 162 games than 60. Meanwhile, the raw athleticism and baseball instinct Robert has shown during Spring Training/Summer Camp have me convinced he’s going to be a superstar. His speed in the outfield and (small sample) minor league defensive metrics potentially give him a defensive floor near Grandal’s. I can easily see a Ronald Acuna-esque rookie season, assuming Robert stays healthy.

Pnoles: Yasmani Grandal. Hopefully, the framing value will be there, and perhaps the short season will keep his legs fresh.

Ted: Eloy Jimenez. I picked him to be AL RoY last season, and while that didn’t pan out, he finished the second half of the 2019 season looking more like the player we had hoped to see all season. I predict he’ll build on that strong finish and be the most explosive offensive weapon for the Sox during this shortened season.

BillyOK: Lucas Giolito. This season feels like a glorious, decadent crapshoot — I don’t think even the 2006 or 1994 teams had this many valid answers. I’ll go with the boring choice and say Lucas Giolito. Great starting pitching is everything in the playoffs. We’re going to the playoffs. Don’t argue with me. Starting pitching that’s pitching in October on July levels of energy and wear could give us 2005 ALCS vibes if this rotation is locked in. Our more questionable pitchers’ success is more critical since the line between good and bad Reynaldo and Rodon is thin. But in Giolito, I trust.

Jim: Yasmani Grandal. His floor as a good-framing, switch-hitting catcher seems to give him a head start on the rest of the lineup, which either has issues with defensive value or reliance on BABIP to feel like comfortable bets. My backup would be Dallas Keuchel, at least with bWAR.

What do you think is the White Sox greatest team strength?

Josh: Offense. This White Sox lineup might be the most loaded we’ve seen since 2000. They have the ability to score 5+ runs per game, and only six teams did that in 2019 (Yankees, Twins, Astros, Red Sox, Athletics, and Rangers).

Greg: Upside. There was already uncertainty in how good they’d turn out to be this season before coronavirus was even an issue. I’m not 100% positive that we should expect above-average production from any individual area of the team (apart from catching). But there are realistic scenarios in which the lineup, starting pitching, bullpen, and defense are all among the ten best in the majors. That’s not something you could say about any White Sox team in recent memory.

Pnoles: Upside. On paper, not even the Sox’ strong lineup stacks up well against that of the Minnesota Twins. Still, it certainly has the potential to surpass it. If the Sox get breakouts from some or all of Luis Robert, Dylan Cease, Eloy Jimenez, and Nick Madrigal, they’ve got a great shot at the division.

Ted: Offense. I see the improved offense as what could carry this team to a playoff berth. There’s potential firepower there led by a Jimenez/Robert/Mazara outfield, a good catching tandem in Grandal and McCann, and proven offense from Encarnacion/Abreu/Moncada. The big question will be if Tim Anderson can repeat (or approximate) 2019, and what Madrigal ends up looking like offensively in the majors.

BillyOK: Upside. The White Sox have an insatiable hunger, a sky-high ceiling, a table stakes season in which to unload on that ceiling, and young vocal leaders in every department. They want to eat this city up for years to come. When this rebuild started, I hoped we’d be good. But all this chemistry feels like lightning in a bottle. Not since the bottom of the first inning in game one of the ’05 division series have I seen this much confidence wearing our team’s logo. Remember 2013? Remember dreaming about 2005 in 2013 and wondering if we’d ever smile again? Enjoy every minute of this.

Jim: Lineup depth. I’m not sure if the White Sox will have a standout offense on the whole due to the strikeout-to-walk disparity, and we’ll see what happens with Nomar Mazara. But unlike previous seasons, this lineup should be able to score from anywhere, which makes them a lot more watchable inning to inning.

What do you think is the White Sox biggest weakness?

Josh: Depth. Hold your breath if Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, or Luis Robert go on the IL. Outside of catching, first base, and relievers, this White Sox team is lacking in quality bench options.

Greg: Lack of certainty. The flip side of upside as a team strength is that this team has very little certainty, so the range of outcomes seems fairly wide. The rookies need to be good out of the gate. The veterans need to prove they’re still good. The Sox don’t have the luxury of building their team around entities like Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, which is why they remain a step behind Cleveland and Minnesota in the projections.

Pnoles: Starting pitching depth. Losing Michael Kopech hurts, because after Giolito and Keuchel, all four of the potential starters seem fairly high-risk. Kopech was no safe bet himself, but he’d have given the Sox one extra chance for things to break right.

Ted: Depth. The starting rotation could be solid, but questions linger surrounding Cease’s second season, a Rodon bounceback, and if Reynaldo Lopez can improve. With Kopech out as an option, injuries or ineffectiveness will expose the lack of depth behind Giolito and Keuchel quickly. On the hitting side, we already saw what things look like without Moncada at third. Losing Anderson at short also seems not ideal.

BillyOK: Inexperience. With an owner who — I’m trying to be careful here in case he’s looking over Rick’s shoulder when Rick is reading Sox Machine (hey Rick) — has a track record of letting a labor rift severely upend the White Sox contention apple cart. But that’s next year’s problem. On the field, inexperience is the biggest hill to climb. It doesn’t look like the usual mountain it’s been in past years, so that’s nice.

Jim: Depth. I was going to say “time,” because if Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal face the kind of learning curve that Eloy Jiménez and Lucas Giolito experienced, they won’t get a chance to produce on the other side of it this season. But they also stand to benefit as much from the small sample as anybody, so I’ll settle for depth. It’s almost like the coronavirus is targeting their most vulnerable positions on purpose.

2020 Best Case Scenario for the White Sox

Josh: In a fantastic turn of events, the White Sox win the AL Central by holding their ground splitting against Minnesota and Cleveland. They win the season series against the Chicago Cubs and dominate the Royals and Tigers to finish 36-24.

Greg: Robert and Jimenez become forces. Moncada and Giolito build on their breakouts. Grandal breaks the free agent curse. The White Sox win the division and take advantage of an extremely janky season around the league to claim a (possibly asterisked but who cares) World Series title.

Pnoles: Winning the World Series. This isn’t likely, but it’s certainly possible.

Ted: The White Sox get off to a hot start fueled by offensive production and just enough good pitching. Luis Robert is all we’d hoped, and somehow more. Nomar Mazara lives up to the potential the Sox saw when trading for him, and the other pieces of the offense continue to improve (or maintain their solid production). The rotation and bullpen provide decent pitching –most of the time– and the Sox sneak away with the 2020 AL Central title.

BillyOK: Look, I’m not Jim or Josh or Pnoles or Ted or Greg. I have no future in sportswriting or prognostication, no credibility to lose. At best, I might hope to one day be asked to make graphics or illustrations for the Sox (hey Rick, hey Brooks). No one will ever hire me for my baseball mind, so here’s the best-case scenario: They win the World Series. This year. The guys who made leaps forward stay there. September Eloy turns into all-time Eloy, Good Reynaldo returns, our prized highly consistent free agent isn’t historically terrible. Our other free agent induces ground balls like a wizard, and the bullpen is a Bummer to face and not a bummer to watch. A ton of clubhouse chemistry and a little luck put them over the top. Why not? Don’t tell me it can’t happen. I won’t listen.

Jim: Beating the Cubs in the World Series, because they wouldn’t have to travel.

2020 Worst Case Scenario for the White Sox

Josh: More players end up landing on the IL for “Undisclosed Reasons,” which leads to the White Sox trotting out Danny Mendick, Adam Engel, and Cheslor Cuthbert for 30 games. Dylan Cease and Reynaldo Lopez fail to progress, and the White Sox finish 25-35. At the end of the season, Jerry Reinsdorf tells Rick Hahn he must reduce payroll and elects not to pick up the option for Edwin Encarnacion.

Greg: A member of the team gets ill enough that the integrity of MLB’s restart plan collapses, and the season is canceled. The virus persists into next year, and the public health emergency combines with labor strife to derail the White Sox rebuild until 2023. (Yeesh. I just depressed myself.)

Pnoles: They post a losing record and most or all of the unproven young players leave plenty of questions unanswered about how the right path to build a winning team in 2021.

Ted: Injuries expose the lack of pitching depth. The offense is inconsistent, with Robert struggling to adjust to major league pitching, significant regression from Anderson, and Abreu and Encarnacion showing their age. The Sox finish in last behind the Royals and Tigers.

BillyOK: Purely in baseball terms, any severe regressions from your Tim’s, Yoan’s, and Lucases would be dispiriting. Beyond baseball, so much can go terribly with the conditions in which this season takes place. But I think most of the team is playing with house money. There’s no pressure to beat the world, which is why I think they can do it. I guess the worst-case scenario then is a World Series rally held on Zoom, which would be lame.

Jim: A team severely compromised by COVID-19 complications is the easy answer. Setting that aside and considering only baseball reasons, I think the bullpen depth and improved power makes a worst-case team more watchable than previous seasons, but the aforementioned steep learning curves and BABIP regression leads to a lineup that be kept quiet for series at a time, which isn’t enough to overcome a shortage of starting pitchers.

2020 White Sox Season Prediction:

Josh: 34-26. Maybe the exhibition games are influencing this prediction too much. Still, I do think it’s in the realm of possibility that the White Sox do split against Minnesota, Cleveland, and the NL Central. At the same time, winning four out of six against the Cubs, winning six games against the Royals, and winning seven against the Tigers. It should be enough to snap not only the seven straight losing season streak but also the postseason drought since 2008.

Greg: The White Sox are in the Wild Card race until the end and finish over .500 for the first time since 2012, but ultimately don’t have enough pitching to keep up with the other contenders. 

Pnoles: 35-25, 2nd place AL Central.

Ted: 31-29. Entering a 162 game season, I would have expected around 80-84 wins. There are enough players on this team that are young/inexperienced enough that they seem likely to take some lumps. 2021 still seems like a more realistic target for real contention. That said, I’d love to be proven wrong, White Sox.

BillyOK: *Making World Series parade plans*

Jim: 32-28. Competitive, but not quite enough in a league with lopsided standings.

2020 MLB Season Award Predictions:

AL MVPJosh DonaldsonMike TroutMike TroutAaron JudgeMike TroutYoan Moncada
AL Cy YoungGerrit ColeLucas GiolitoGerrit ColeShane BieberJustin VerlanderLucas Giolito
NL MVPFernando Tatis Jr.Mookie BettsJuan SotoCody BellingerRonald Acuna Jr.Cody Bellinger
NL Cy YoungJack FlahertyWalker BuehlerTrevor BauerMax ScherzerWalker BuehlerMax Scherzer

2020 MLB Season Postseason Picks:

AL EastYankeesRaysYankeesYankeesYankeesYankees
AL CentralTwinsTwinsTwinsTwinsTwinsWhite Sox
AL WestAstrosA’sAstrosA’sAstrosAstros
AL WC 1RaysYankeesRaysRaysRaysTwins
AL WC 2IndiansWhite SoxClevelandWhite SoxWhite SoxA’s
NL EastBravesNationalsPhilliesBravesBravesBraves
NL CentralCardinalsRedsBrewersRedsCardinalsReds
NL WestDodgersDodgersDodgersDodgersDodgersDodgers
NL WC 1NationalsCubsCubsMetsCubsMets
NL WC 2RedsPadresRedsCardinalsPadresBrewers
World SeriesAstros over DodgersRays over DodgersDodgers over YankeesDodgers over YankeesDodgers over YankeesWhite Sox over Braves

Post your 2020 MLB Predictions in the comments below.

2020 White Sox Season Prediction:


Cy Young (AL/NL):

AL East:
AL Central:
AL West:
AL Wild Card:
AL Wild Card:

NL East
NL Central:
NL West:
NL Wild Card:
NL Wild Card:

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Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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2020 White Sox Season Prediction: 35-25

MVP (AL/NL): Robert/Yelich

Cy Young (AL/NL): Giolito/Kershaw

AL East: Yankees
AL Central: White Sox
AL West: A’s
AL Wild Card: Rays
AL Wild Card: Twins

NL East: Phillies
NL Central: Brewers
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Braves
NL Wild Card: Reds

World Series: White Sox over Dodgers


Edited to make Twins a wild card instead of the Indians. Cleveland’s pitching should be better, but the logical bet is Minnesota.


I admit that I have two thoughts in my head.

1) I am delighted to see Luis Robert debut, see some of the young players make leaps forward, and see how Grandal and Keuchel perform.

2) But Greg summed up my worries.

Greg: A member of the team gets ill enough that the integrity of MLB’s restart plan collapses, and the season is canceled. The virus persists into next year, and the public health emergency combines with labor strife to derail the White Sox rebuild until 2023. (Yeesh. I just depressed myself.)


This concerns me, as well, but today is a day to dream on the possibilities. You know, “Eat, drink, and be Murray, blah, blah, blah.”

As Cirensica

Looking at the picks to win the Central, for a moment I thought I logged in Twinkertown blog by mistake…pffft. White Sox will win. 40-20

As Cirensica

OK.. here are my picks

2020 White Sox Season Prediction: 40-20

MVP (AL/NL): Robert/Acuna

Cy Young (AL/NL): Cease / Bauer

AL East: Yankees
AL Central: White Sox
AL West: A’s
AL Wild Card: Bluejays
AL Wild Card: Texas

NL East: Braves
NL Central: Reds
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Cardinals
NL Wild Card: D-Backs

World Series: White Sox over Reds

As Cirensica

Yes…but that’s a team that can surprise in a shortened season where the team with the hottest players will win as opposed to the team with the best players for a 162 game season. Don’t sleep on Texas.


and the effect of playing without fans has to drop the home-field advantage percentage down pretty considerably.

lil jimmy

not going to lie. I’m getting excited. I feel it in my chest. Very, very excited.

lil jimmy

Billy is the best looking. that counts for something, right?


Counts for everything!! See you at the parade!


2020 White Sox Season Prediction: 37-23

MVP (AL): Joey Gallo (runner up = Shoehei Ohtani)
MVP (NL): JT Realmuto (runner up = Ronald Acuna)

Cy Young (AL): Tyler Glasnow (runner up = Gerrit Cole)
Cy Young (NL): Jack Flaherty (runner up = Josh Hader)

ROY (AL): Luis Robert
ROY (NL): Kwang Hyun Kim

AL East: Yankees
AL Central: White Sox
AL West: Athletics
AL Wild Card: Rays
AL Wild Card: Astros

NL East: Braves
NL Central: Brewers
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Nationals
NL Wild Card: Cardinals

World Series: Rays over Dodgers


Here’s the 2020 Fearless Forecast …

White Sox Season Prediction: 30-30
MVP (AL/NL): Trout (Angels) / Soto (Nationals)
Cy Young (AL/NL): Verlander (Astros) / Scherzer (Nationals)
AL East: Rays
AL Central: Twins
AL West: Athletics
AL Wild Card: Yankees
AL Wild Card: Astros
AL “Extra” Playoff Teams: Indians, Rangers, White Sox
NL East: Braves
NL Central: Cubs
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Nationals
NL Wild Card: Cardinals
NL “Extra” Playoff Teams: Mets, Brewers, Diamondbacks
World Series: Dodgers over Rays