Despite their second-half struggles, the White Sox will have a chance to compete in 2020. With Luis Robert, Michael Kopech, and Nick Madrigal joining the squad, here are twenty reasons why White Sox fans can be excited about next year.
It’s been a rough start to the second half for Chicago White Sox fans, as the team has fallen out of contention. Many important players have been injured, making the team less fun to watch because of several sub-par players being thrown out there to replace them. The team also still doesn’t have a fifth starter.
However, for White Sox fans it gets better. Come 2020 and the arrow will be flipped as the White Sox will begin heading in the right direction. Here are twenty reasons why that is the case:
- Luis Robert – If any player in the White Sox will become a Mike Trout-level superstar, it is this guy. He and Jimenez will form a good outfield, but given that Robert is much better defensively he may end up being the better player. Robert truly is a five-tool player, and his speed and power are much needed in a thin White Sox lineup. If they can just promote him this year, then perhaps we will get him some experience and he will be ready to prove just how good he can be in 2020.
- Nick Madrigal – hopefully, he gets here sooner rather than later, as his .364/.424/.483 line in AA Birmingham gives an indication that he could be a productive major league hitter, and be a massive upgrade over Yolmer Sanchez. The Yolmer Sanchez as a White Sox starter era has gone on for too long already, and it will be nice to see it come to a merciful end. That is not to undersell what Madrigal could be – as with his speed, glove, and on-base skills he could be a star player.
- Michael Kopech will be back. This guy has really been missed, as his injury basically caused the White Sox to lose 100 games in 2018 and be out of contention for 2019, as he would have been the White Sox best-projected starter. It’s questionable if he will be able to regain his momentum after surgery, but just having him on the mound and pitching well at a competitive level would be a massive relief for Sox fans. If he isn’t an ace in 2020, I predict he will get there eventually. Don’t give up on him.
- Wellington Castillo, Jon Jay, Yonder Alonso, and Nick Delmonico will be gone. The four players with connections to Manny Machado, who all failed to get him to sign with the team. They’ve also given the White Sox a combined -2.4 WAR in 2019. Two of the four are already gone, and I can’t wait to never have to watch them play for the Sox again.
- They are due for success – after twelve seasons from 2009-2019 of basically being the worst franchise in baseball, the White Sox are due for success. The laws of probability can’t allow for a team to be the worst forever and the White Sox are so overdue for some success I would imagine a little will pretty shortly.
- The Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins will be worse. After this season, expect Cleveland to retool and sell a lot of their pieces. Whether it will be a full-on rebuild or just modest retooling remains to be seen, but the Indians seem pretty prepared to slash their payroll, and will at least trade some top-notch starting pitchers to do so. While I mean no disrespect to the Twins, they aren’t going to be this good every year. This is definitely a special year for them, but expect them to fall a bit back down to earth in 2020, giving the White Sox a chance to compete for first or second place.
- The money will be spent – after the last off-season, I would never expect the White Sox to sign a franchise player, and they probably won’t but that doesn’t mean they won’t make some veteran upgrades. The White Sox were humiliated for their failures in the past off-season, so to prove they aren’t “cheap” I would expect them to make a run at some outfielders and starting pitching. They’re bound to land somebody decent, right?
- The American League will be worse – The Indians and Twins will regress, the Boston Red Sox are getting older, and the Tampa Bay Rays are demoralized by talk of moving the team to Montreal. Basically, all the White Sox have to do to finally make the playoffs is to win the AL Central or beat out the A’s for a wildcard spot. Couldn’t be too hard, right?
- Eloy Jimenez will be better – the more experience he is given, Eloy just becomes a better hitter. If he can just stay healthy, he will annually hit 30+home runs if not 40 while also providing a decent batting average.
- Carols Rodon and Dane Dunning will be back sometime during the season. It was a big blow for the White Sox to lose not only Kopech but their #2 and #3 starters according to Fangraphs projected ERA. If either of these guys can be healthy starters for the White Sox by the end of 2020, I would consider that a resounding success.
- The White Sox have the payroll capacity and the motivation to trade for a highly paid starting pitcher. Hello Zack Grienke? Just so long as this isn’t a repeat of the horrendous James Shields trade.
- Tim Anderson will be healthy – Anderson has been the Sox most exciting player while in good health, so with a full 150+ games from him he has a chance to be the first 30-30 White Sox player in team history. What a pleasure it would be to see him do it. The team badly needs him in the lineup and at shortstop, where he is basically their only option.
- The 2019-2020 free-agent market is saturated with outfielders. There are a lot of slugger rightfield/DH options on the market, so I would expect them to sign at least one of them given the team needs. Hopefully, Rick Hahn will pick the right one, whoever that is.
- Andrew Vaughn – he may or may not be with the White Sox in 2020 but it will still be fun to follow his minor league journey regardless. With his tremendous power, he has a chance to be Paul Konerko 2.0 and compliment Abreu at first base.
- Rick Hahn and Rick Renteria will finally feel the pressure to win. So much has been excused from their lack of success the last three years due to the team “rebuilding” so let’s see if they can turn it around once people begin to expect something of them. They are both running out of excuses.
- The Rotation will be so much better. With guys returning from injury, as well as a more experienced Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, expect much better things from the rotation in 2020, and that’s before even considering the veterans they could add in a trade or free agency.
- They will hit more home runs. Everyone loves the long-ball, and the White Sox are going to need a lot of it if they expect to compete in the current level. Robert, Vaughn, and perhaps a free agent or two will provide a lot more fireworks
- The young players will begin to enter their prime – Tim Anderson will be 27, Yoan Moncada will turn 25, and Lucas Giolito will turn 26. We will get to see just how good these players are going to be.
- More Prospects will graduate – Many of the prospects that White Sox fans have been waiting to see for years will finally get a fair look in the majors and get the chances that they deserve. It will be fun finally seeing these players tested at the highest level.
- It’s a brand new decade – and this one can’t be any worse than the last one for the Sox.
All in all, you can see that if most of these come true, 2020 is going to be a great year for the Chicago White Sox.