The Sox Machine staff’s 2021 MLB predictions

Sailors assigned to various commands at Naval Station Great Lakes unfurl an American flag before the 2010 home opening Chicago White Sox baseball game at U.S. Cellular Field.

Best-case Scenario for the Chicago White Sox

Patrick Nolan (Pnoles): The best-case scenario for any team with a reasonable hope at the playoffs is winning the World Series, and the White Sox fall into that category. However, even if they don’t win it all, there are other possible high-end outcomes. If they win the AL Central and get breakouts from some or all of Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech, Nick Madrigal, and Andrew Vaughn, that could lead to a better outlook for 2022 than what we have right now for 2021. Even if you told me they wouldn’t win the World Series THIS year, I’d take that outcome in a heartbeat. Given that Lance Lynn is here for just one season, that would be an excellent result because the Sox need to find a way to replace Lynn’s talent without adding to payroll (unless Jerry surprises us and suddenly starts spending next winter).

Greg Nix: All the non-Eloy linchpins stay healthy, an unexpected contributor or two pops, and the Sox make a run at the best record in baseball. Jimenez comes back for the playoffs and helps power the White Sox to their first playoff series win in 16 seasons.

Ted Mulvey: The absolute best-case scenario is a World Series title. :: Cue Milton Davis Jr. from Angels in the Outfield:: It could happen! More realistically, I think the best case for the Sox in 2021 is an AL Central title over the Twins, followed by a run to the ALCS. To get there, I think Luis Robert will need to flash more August 2020 than September 2020. By way of Ethan Katz, Dylan Cease cements his stake as a solid fourth starter or better. Andrew Vaughn isn’t overwhelmed in whichever role he ultimately claims. Oh, and Eloy Jimenez makes his triumphant return in late-August, powering them through to a strong September finish.

Celebrity Picker (and sound over voice of the Sox Machine Podcast) Rob Hart, 780 AM WBBM: White Sox win the World Series.

Josh Nelson: The Chicago White Sox easily win the AL Central, Eloy Jimenez returns to hit 11 home runs during the playoffs, and Jerry Reinsdorf in his final season as Chairman raises another World Series trophy. 

Jim Margalus: If “win the World Series” is kind of a cop-out, then I’d say that they’re able to barge into the postseason. The last two times they’ve made it — 2008 and 2020 — they backed in, partially due to a weird injury to a highly important corner outfielder, and then exited quietly, diminishing the excitement with it.. Whether it’s the wild card or the division, it’d be nice to see the Sox conduct themselves in the postseason like a team that’s going to do it again, because the season-ticket excitement that follows should allow more spending to flow.

Worst-case Scenario for the Chicago White Sox

Pnoles: The Eloy injury is only the first domino to fall, and the White Sox front office failure to acquire position-player depth leaves them with multiple lineup sinkholes rendering a team that doesn’t crack a .500 record. Lance Lynn walks after the season, and the raises due to the Sox’ core players consuming any available payroll space under Jerry’s budget to replace him. As a result, the White Sox miss the postseason and the 2022 roster that looks worse on paper.

Greg: Jose Abreu and Tim Anderson take a step back, Yoan Moncada looks more like his 2020 self than his 2019 form, Luis Robert and Andrew Vaughn struggle, Lucas Giolito blows out his elbow, Tony La Russa resigns in disgrace/exhaustion, and the Sox finish below .500. Jerry Reinsdorf gets a Futurama-style robot body and gives Rick Hahn gets a 30-year extension.

Ted: That one-ply roster so oft-mentioned comes back to haunt Rick Hahn and Co. Dylan Cease’s command continues to desert him, Carlos Rodon body betrays him, and the offense loses multiple vital pieces at a time to nagging injuries. The bullpen is tremendous, but that only gets you so far if you don’t have leads to protect. The Sox finish just out of the second Wild Card spot and continue their quest for the first back-to-back playoff seasons in franchise history.

Rob: A repeat of 2015/2016 seasons.

Josh: After the third inning at Seattle, Lucas Giolito grabs his right elbow walking off the mound. It’s his last start of 2021 on April 6th. Lance Lynn’s walk rate balloons back to his pre-Texas days, Dallas Keuchel spends half the season on the IL dealing with back spasms, and the excellent Spring Training both Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodon had doesn’t carry over to the regular season. Even though the offense averages five runs a game, the pitching staff crumbles as the White Sox drag to a 77-85 record. 

Jim: I’d say 2004 would be the most apt parallel for a bad White Sox outcome, where one targeted injury in the field, an inability to produce replacement starting pitchers and a disappointing season from the imported closer from Oakland basically renders an interesting, controversial managerial hire moot for a year. 83-79 feels like a realistic kind of anticlimactic.

2021 Prediction for the Chicago White Sox

Pnoles: In the wake of Eloy’s injury, I have to say 85-77, 2nd place AL Central.

Greg: The Sox finish in 2nd place behind the Twins but grab a Wild Card spot against the Blue Jays. Unfortunately, they need wins in the season’s last week, so they cannot line up their playoff rotation. Carlos Rodon gets the Wild Card start and is unable to stay out of his toes. He gets outpitched by fellow low-cost free agent option Robbie Ray, and the Sox lose despite three home runs from trade deadline acquisition Nomar Mazara.

Ted: As alluded to above, lack of depth in some areas makes the error bar wide. Ultimately, I’ll predict an 88-74 record. As much as I disliked the Tony LaRussa hire, he’s proven in the past his ability to adapt and navigate through challenging seasons. I think his experience and flexibility will manage this club to a wild card spot and victory, landing in the ALDS. After that, who knows, but it’ll be fun!

Rob: White Sox win the American League Central and Pennant, but just like 1959, fall short losing the World Series to the Dodgers.

Josh: As I mentioned on the podcast, I think the White Sox will finish 90-72 and win the American League Central. After beating the Los Angeles Angels in the Division Series, they lose in the Championship Series to the New York Yankees. 

Jim: As I also mentioned on the podcast, they go 89-73. I think that’s good enough for a wild card appearance and a loss in the ALCS.


AL MVPMike TroutMike TroutMike TroutLuis RobertAaron JudgeMike Trout
NL MVPJuan SotoMookie BettsJuan SotoJuan SotoJuan SotoRonald Acuña Jr.
AL Cy YoungLucas GiolitoGerrit ColeLucas GiolitoLucas GiolitoLucas GiolitoShane Bieber
NL Cy YoungJacob deGromWalker BuehlerJacob deGromJacob deGromJacob deGromTrevor Bauer
AL RoYAndrew VaughnAndrew VaughnJarred KelenicAndrew VaughnAndrew VaughnDane Dunning
NL RoYSixto SanchezKe’Bryan HayesSixto SanchezKe’Bryan HayesKe’Bryan HayesIan Anderson

Playoff Picks

AL EastYankeesYankeesYankeesRaysYankeesYankees
AL CentralTwinsTwinsTwinsWhite SoxWhite SoxTwins
AL WestAstrosAngelsAthleticsAstrosAngelsAstros
AL WCBlue JaysBlue JaysWhite SoxTwinsBlue JaysWhite Sox
AL WCWhite SoxWhite SoxRaysYankeesAstrosAngels
NL EastBravesBravesMetsMetsMetsBraves
NL CentralCardinalsCardinalsCardinalsCardinalsBrewersCardinals
NL WestDodgersDodgersDodgersDodgersPadresDodgers
NL WCPadresPadresPadresPadresDodgersPadres
NL WCMetsMetsBravesPhilliesNationalsMets

World Series Predictions

Pnoles: Dodgers over Yankees

Greg: Dodgers over Yankees

Ted: Dodgers over Yankees

Rob: Dodgers over White Sox

Josh: Yankees over Mets

Jim: Padres over Yankees

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Dane Dunning



Not funny. Sadistic.


>Dane Dunning

very funny Ted.

Ted Mulvey

That was our fearless leader’s pick! Not mine.


Even without Eloy, the Sox are at least the 2nd best team in the AL. Only the Yankees might be better. But they need unexpected health from Kluber, Taillon, Stanton and Judge. Voit is already out for a month. If the Yanks stay healthy, they will be tough to beat. But needing healthy seasons from your injury-prone 2nd/3rd starters and 2nd/3rd hitters is asking for a lot. I think the Sox go 95-67 and win the AL Central rather easily. Eloy comes back in August to solidify the lineup even further, Jerry and Rick make some acquisitions at the trade deadline, and the Sox go into the playoffs loaded. They run thru the AL to make the Series and meet the Dodgers. And since I’ve come this far, then I predict Giolito, Keuchel, Lynn and a loaded bullpen shut down the Dodgers and the Sox win the World Series!!!


Fangraphs also posted their 2021 staff predictions today and it’s fun to compare their Sox-related predictions to you guys here at Sox Machine.

  • Ironically, FG likes the Sox more than SM. The Sox were (barely) the most popular pick to win the AL Central at FG (19 of 37), while they weren’t the popular pick at SM (2 of 6). However, the Sox did at least make the playoffs in all SM ballots but missed out in a few FG ballots.
  • SM loves them some Andrew Vaughn, but not Randy Arozarena. Arozarena dominated the ROY voting at FG (and got an MVP vote!) with Vaughn lagging behind in 3rd. Meanwhile, no mention of Randy over here in favor of Vaughn.
  • Both SM & FG like Giolito but SM likes him a little more. He won CY on 4 of 6 SM ballots, but 10 of 37 FG ballot—finishing a close 2nd to Cole’s 11 votes.
  • Robert got one MVP vote at SM (0 at FG) and Madrigal got one ROY vote at FG (0 at SM).
Greg Nix

Finally, we’ll be able to determine which is superior: graphs or machines.


Ironically, FG likes the Sox more than SM.

Never doubt the pessimism of a fan scorned by victory.