Aug 19, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox first basemanJose Abreu
(79) rounds third base after hitting a home run against Baltimore Orioles starting pitcherChris Tillman
(not pictured) during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Maybe I’m blinded by all the positive moves the Chicago White Sox have made this offseason, but I tend to lean on the side that the White Sox will have a winning record in 2015.
David Schoenfield of ESPN.com tends to think otherwise, having the White Sox ranked 23rd in his pre-spring training rankings on his ESPN SweetSpot blog.
Aug 16, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) hits a 2 RBI triple during the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Schoenfield has the White Sox projected at 75-87 this upcoming season, just a two-game improvement from last season’s 73-89 year and a 12-win improvement from the 63-99 mark from two years ago, which was one of the worst seasons in the history of the franchise.
The ESPN.com article says the following about the White Sox in his projections:
"“I’m taking the under .500 due to what I perceive as a lack of quality depth on the back end of the roster. But it wouldn’t shock me if everything came together and the White Sox won 90 games.”"
Do I believe the White Sox will win 90 games (a 17-game improvement from last season)? That’s tough to say, but 82 wins by the White Sox, which is a winning record, isn’t out of the question. I’m comfortable in saying they will win between 85-87 games.
Saying he (Schoenfield) wouldn’t be shocked the White Sox can win 90 games, but predicting they will win only 75, seems like he’s trying to cover each end of the spectrum when it come to his projection of the White Sox.
If he believed they would win 90 games, then he would most likely say so, because a 90-win season is a long ways away from saying a team will win only 75 times.
With the 1-3 starting rotation the White Sox have, and a closer who can actually save games in David Robertson, it is tough to believe the “Good Guys” will win under 82 games.
The biggest problem for the White Sox in ’14 was the bullpen, and with the pitchers that remain from last season having different relief roles, they won’t be as unreliable as they were a season ago.
With the White Sox having Chris Sale, Jeff Samardzija and Jose Quintana as the top three in the rotation, that should be a guaranteed no fewer than 10 wins each by each of those pitchers, though I think it would be a safe bet to say Sale and Samardzija each at least have 13 wins apiece in ’15.
Sports on Earth has the White Sox rotation ranked ninth in the majors, saying:
"“The depth here is admittedly questionable. It will be interesting to see when and what Carlos Rodon delivers on the big league stage this summer, and John Danks is trying to become the second coming of Mark Buehrle on the South Side by working on his changeup. We’ll see.”"
Even in all of his struggles last season, Danks was a .500 pitcher with an 11-11 record in ’14, and that was with a 4.74 ERA in 32 starts. A lot is being made of the No. 5 starter for the White Sox in ’15, but how many teams have a No. 5 starter in which they feel total confidence in each time they take the mound?
Not many teams is my guess.
Maybe I’m being more of a homer than Hawk Harrelson, but no matter what computer projections and baseball experts say, there is no way the White Sox have a below .500 record in ’15 … no way.
It will not happen.
Abreu had 80 runs, 107 RBIs and 36 home runs in ’14, but the others in the aforementioned list also had very productive ’14 seasons, though two of them weren’t on the team in ’14.
With the Toronto Blue Jays, Cabrera totaled 81 runs, 73 RBIs and 16 home runs, and LaRoche finished with 73 runs, 92 RBIs and 26 home runs with the Washington Nationals last season.
Sep 23, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche (25) runs to first base after hitting a three run home run in the fifth inning against the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The pre-spring training projections of Schoenfield say he’s worried about the OBP of the White Sox in ’15. Abreu led the White Sox with a .383 OBP in ’14 (10th-best in the majors). Compare that to the MLB leader Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates at .410.
Chicago had two players in the Top-50 of OBP in the majors last season, with Eaton being the other at 26th overall (.362.) LaRoche also had a .362 OBP, and Cabrera was 18th (.371).
I’m sure the White Sox wouldn’t have paid all the money they did for those two quality players (LaRoche, Cabrera) in free agency if they didn’t believe they could repeat those type of numbers playing at US Cellular Field.
Eaton batted .300 in ’14 (his first season with the White Sox), plus he added 76 runs and 35 RBIs as the White Sox lead-off hitter. Ramirez scored 82 runs with 74 RBIs and 15 homers … those numbers speak for themselves.
I didn’t forget Garcia … in just 42 games during the ’14 season, he was still able to collect 29 RBIs and 19 runs. He also hit seven home runs.
Imagine how productive the White Sox offense can be in ’15 with players and numbers like that … it is tough to fathom a 75-win season.
Plus, if the White Sox finish with those projected 75 wins (barring injuries), then this season will be a complete disaster, right?
It feels like the experts have the White Sox underrated for the upcoming season, possibly because they are in the same division as the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals and the Cleveland Indians.
I understand the division will be tough, but that being said, the White Sox are more than capable now to compete with those type of teams on a nightly basis. By the time the All-Star break arrives, my prediction is many will have a different, more positive take on the Good Guys.