Just before Opening Day, FanGraphs finished its position-by-position review across the league. Here’s a quick summary of how and why the White Sox project as well as they do. Or as poorly as they do. Thanks to an injury and other questionable choices, the Sox have both sides of the scale covered.
Rest of AL Central: Royals (7), Twins (8), Cleveland (12), Tigers (25)
Yasmani Grandal gives the Sox a healthy lead over the rest of baseball by more than a half-win. James McCann wouldn’t have offered much stat-padding this time around, because the projections aren’t yet buying into his framing improvement.
FIRST BASE: 13TH
Rest of AL Central: Twins (10), Royals (14), Tigers (16), Cleveland (24)
Freddie Freeman won the MVP as a first baseman in the National League, and the Braves rank first at 4.5 WAR. José Abreu won the MVP as a first baseman in the American League, and the White Sox middle of the pack at 1.6. Like McCann, 60 games wasn’t enough to offset the previous decline and lackluster defensive metrics.
SECOND BASE: EIGHTH
Rest of AL Central: Twins (7), Cleveland (15), Tigers (16), Royals (25)
Nick Madrigal shows pretty well in these rankings due to defense, but then he rushed a throw for a key error in the first game of the season, so who can say.
THIRD BASE: 11TH
Rest of AL Central: Cleveland (1), Twins (6), Tigers (18), Royals (22)
Yoán Moncada is one of many bounceback candidates at third base, who could all be top five if they can overcome misfortune from the previous season. Minnesota has one in Josh Donaldson, although he left the opener with a hamstring issue.
Rest of AL Central: Twins (10), Royals (18), Tigers (22), Cleveland (24)
Shortstop is stacked, but Anderson still suffers from systems struggling to buy into his BABIP-oriented approach. It’s not the easiest way to live, but he does it his way.
LEFT FIELD: 27TH
Rest of AL Central: Cleveland (8), Royals (15), Twins (17), Tigers (25)
The White Sox dropped from third to 27th due to Eloy Jiménez’s injury, and when watching Leury García go 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the opener paints a clear picture of the drop-off.
CENTER FIELD: 6TH
Rest of AL Central: Twins (4), Cleveland (22), Tigers (23), Royals (25)
Here’s the opposite of the White Sox’s situations at first and short, where Luis Robert’s defense gives him a high floor despite all the other uncertainties. Minnesota has the same thing going with Byron Buxton.
RIGHT FIELD: 19TH
Rest of AL Central: Twins (8), Royals (12), Cleveland (23), Tigers (28)
Adam Eaton opened the season with a two-run homer while Max Kepler dropped a key fly for the Twins, so we can finally stop saying that Opening Day only confirmed previously held beliefs.
DESIGNATED HITTER: 14TH
Rest of AL Central: Twins (3), Royals (5), Cleveland (6), Tigers (13)
You can see the pressure on an Eaton rebound and immediate competence from Andrew Vaughn, because otherwise it’s hard to have little offense from lowest end of the defensive spectrum.
STARTING ROTATION: SEVENTH
Rest of AL Central: Twins (12), Cleveland (15), Royals (24), Tigers (27)
It’s alien to see Cleveland in the middle of the pack, but Shane Bieber’s company loses name-brand recognition after Zach Plesac, thanks to the trades of Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco. It’ll test their ability to develop starters on the fly, whereas the White Sox acquired Lance Lynn as a tacit acknowledgement of their struggles regenerating depth.
Rest of AL Central: Twins (9), Cleveland (10), Royals (27), Tigers (30)
Entering Opening Day, you might be wondering how anybody could say two teams are better. After one game? It may take a few games for this group to coalesce. Fortunately for the White Sox, Alex Colomé was equally disappointing.
This is a pretty effective way to look at how the Twins project better than the White Sox. Minnesota gets there with slightly more talent across the board, and power from DH. PItching is where the White Sox can make the biggest dent on paper, but that similarly relies on the front-line guys to hold up, or for help to arrive at the deadline. This battle doesn’t figure to be a comfortable one, which is only part of what White Sox fans signed up for.
Jim, FYI, I followed your instructions for the ad-free experience. Didn’t work. Maybe I need to clear cookies and whatnot and restart, I don’t know. I might try that later.
Unable to eliminate adds at all or patreon just auto logging you off after 10 minutes?
I was having issues with the latter last night but seemed to have solved this morning. Previously, I was logging in through my patreon account. Problem for me anyways was that the patreon account would auto sign out after a brief time. So I would have to keep relogging every time I refreshed comments or opened new article. However, if you log in through the sox machine website itself and click the “remember me” box, you won’t get logged off. I had to log in via patreon, open my account settings to find what my sox machine log in was and set up the password. Then I logged out of patreon, and signed in through the sox machine website as described above.
Now if you are completely unable to get the add free version, then something else is going on and hopefully someone else can chime in.
Thanks, but I still have ads in every device I have opened Sox Machine
I disconnected it from my end. Can you give it another shot and let me know?
It seems to work now on my tablet
My internal monologue: how is that possible?
Also me: Oh yeah, only 15 teams have a DH. That makes sense.
This is the one projection that I’m actually confident we can beat. I’m cautiously optimistic about both Collins and Mercedes (especially after tonight!). And even if neither of them grab the position, then Vaughn ends up seeing more DH at-bats and has a decent chance of success. Throw in a few days here and there for Grandal and Abreu and you’ve got yourself at least average DH production.
Very convenient, thanks Jim.
Anyone else mad they didn’t have a free game of the day for opening day? Bastards… Also apparently this site has awful captchas now.
Where are you encountering the captchas?
Jim, a great article. I like explanations and opinion but the chart really made it stand out. Winning is never easy. I know others believe that coaches factor little in the end result but I truly believe that great coaches instill a belief that they can win and a willingness to win when it is easy to quit. I am anxious to see if LaRussa is still capable. One game isn’t enough to grade him and I hope that we rise above these current grades.
So, The Will To Win?
From my view (inside the stadium!) Eaton looked good last night both at the plate and in the field. It’d be a huge help offsetting Eloy’s injury if he can stay healthy and put up a 3ish win season.
What was that like yesterday, Greg, if you’d care to elaborate?
Sure! I bought tickets Wednesday on impulse (wife and I got the first vaccine shot about 2.5 weeks ago). Figured the next chance I would have to go to a Sox opening game when they’re actually good might be 50 years from now.
Stadium was capped at 20% capacity, so tix were more expensive than usual but parking and entrance were easy. Pretty much everyone I saw was masked in the way in, but most people seemed to ditch the masks when they got to their seat (not sure if this is an Orange County thing, a people-who-go-to-baseball-games thing, or some combination thereof). Seating-wise, there was no one else in my row and the rows in front of us were well-staggered. On my deck all of the snack bars were closed, so we had to order from the MLB Ballpark app which ended up sucking. The kitchens and staff were totally overwhelmed, so it took us around 90 minutes to finally get our full order, and we didn’t have time to place a second one.
It was fairly surreal to do something so “normal” and I definitely wouldn’t have gone without getting vaxxed. But fun to see the Sox, even with the results being what they were.