Could The White Sox Win The AL Central Division in 2019?
The 2019 AL Central race could be more up for grabs than you think. Could the White Sox end its postseason draught next year?
Most White Sox fans have 2020 eyeballed as the first year the team should be competitive. And for the most part, I would agree with that assessment. If the Sox were in any other division in baseball, that is. But, let’s take a look at the AL Central going into 2019.
Kansas City is one of only two teams in 2018 with a worse record than the White Sox. They are just starting their rebuild and didn’t have a Chris Sale or Jose Quintana to get it kick started. Having won the World Series in 2015 they have just seen their championship window close. So, this year is the first year of the major trade offs of veterans that signify the beginning of a rebuild. That being said, the Royals won’t be contending anytime soon.
Detroit is also in the middle of a rebuilding effort. With last years trades of Justin Verlander, J.D. Martinez, and Justin Upton, they hit the reset button a year ago. However, contracts with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez make them almost impossible to trade. Or at least to get anywhere near the haul the White Sox got for Quintana, Sale, and Eaton.
The Minnesota Twins are somewhere in the middle. They had started rebuilding a couple years ago and had one of the higher rated farm systems. Guys like Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton energized the team and they exceeded expectations. Going from 100+ losses in 2016 to a Wild Card berth in one year. The Twins looked ready to contend with the Indians for the division this year. Buxton has had a disappointing and injury-filled year, however.
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With the team struggling, they traded pitcher Lance Lynn and second baseman Brian Dozier at the trade deadline. This signified going back to the rebuild route. However, with Sano and Buxton still young and talented and guys like Nick Gordon and Royce Lewis in the minors, they are a step ahead of most teams right now.
Lastly, is the soon to be again division champion Cleveland Indians. Yes, they are head and shoulders above the rest of the division right now. No doubt they have been the class of the AL Central. But let’s look at their list of impending free agents this offseason. The list includes Andrew Miller, Michael Brantley, Cody Allen and Lonnie Chisenhall among others.
That’s a significant chunk of their core pieces. Yes, they’ll still have Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez which is a stellar core to build around. However, they won’t be able to keep the same pieces around them next year. You never know how new additions will respond to a new situation. They’re still the team to beat next year, but, it’s not as cut and dried as it may seem.
So, should we start planning on having pennant fever next year? Not quite. The team is still a couple years away from truly contending. But, in the AL Central, there’s the Indians and everyone else. And who’s to say one of those teams doesn’t surprise. It happens every year. There’s always a surprise team. So, while I am not betting on it, the question can be asked…………….Why Not Us??