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Recent Blogs

Should We Be Worried About the White Sox?

The White Sox had a very strong offseason, ranking third in free agent spending and improving immensely an already tough team to play against. But do the Twins really have a lot to worry about when facing the South Siders this year?
Image courtesy of © Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Last week, Matt Braun showed us how good the Indians still are. Alongside Cleveland, Chicago was the only other AL Central team to win a series against Minnesota (they won two) in 2019, on their way to a 72-89 record. Have they become somewhat of a threat for the Twins and the Indians in the race for the division crown? Some of their fans sure think so.

To help the rotation, Chicago signed veteran lefties Gio González and Dallas Keuchel. In part, this was likely done to help mentor their rising star Lucas Giolito and probably to also mentor their other young starting pitchers, Reynaldo López, Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech. While González and Keuchel are still good pitchers and might very well push them closer to a wild card spot, they might not have been the best choice to help dethrone the Twins.

Minnesota punished left-handed pitching all year long, ranking first in AVG (.285), SLG (.521) and OPS (.872) and second in wOBA (.361) and wRC+ (126). Also, no team hit more home runs (95) nor had a lower ground ball rate (39.4%) against them. It’s hard to imagine that a nearly unchanged lineup will suddenly have a different outcome.

Gonzalez turns 35 in September and last year he spent a considerable amount of time dealing with injuries, which cut his season short. He logged only 87 1/3 innings in 17 starts and while his ERA and most of his peripherals improved in comparison to 2018, they were still worse than his career averages (except for his ERA). He started two games against Minnesota last year and he couldn’t pitch past the fifth inning in either. He combined for 8 1/3 innings, allowing four home runs and nine earned runs, leading to a 9.72 ERA.

Keuchel just turned 32 and seems to be in better shape, but his track record against current Twins hitters isn’t brilliant. His slash line against them, according to ESPN, is .287/.357/.485 (.842). That includes the earlier years of the careers of Mitch Garver, Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario, who matured considerably since last facing him. But that’s not even the worst part.

As Twins Daily’s own Ted Schwerzler pointed out on his Twitter account, the White Sox infield defense may cause Keuchel and his 60.1% ground ball rate a lot of problems.

With the departure of their Gold Glove-winning second baseman Yolmer Sánchez to the Giants, things look even worse on that front. He was, by far, their best infield defender, being worth 11 DRS in 2019. Newly acquired designated hitter Edwin Encarnación, who can play first base when needed, also has a below average defense at first, being worth -1 DRS in 2019.

Their outfield was the fourth worst in the majors in DRS (defensive runs saved), with -39. Their only addition there was Nomar Mazara, who came to Chicago in a trade with the Rangers. But he doesn’t represent a great improvement on defense, as he was worth -4 DRS in the outfield last year. So Keuchel and his 4.72 FIP in 2019 might encounter troubles along the way, especially against the Twins.

Offensively, the White Sox surely improved their lineup considerably. They solved their DH issue by bringing Encarnación and also did a great job by replacing Ryan Cordell with Nomar Mazara in the right field. All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal will not only be an enormous help to the pitching staff, but also a great fit for their lineup. The already good core of Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez and veteran Jose Abreu now looks stronger. However, I believe this lineup still doesn’t have what it takes to top the Twins’ pitching staff on a regular basis. Besides, even if they do, there’s a great chance Minnesota’s lineup will out-slug their pitching staff even more often.

The White Sox are in great position to have their first winning season in ten years. Perhaps even reach the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. But it doesn’t look like 2020 is the year they’re going to outperform both Minnesota and Cleveland for the AL Central throne.

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Of course we should be worried about them.

I think a lot of fans are getting a little haughty. Our rotation could be terrible. We’re a season ending injury from Berrios/Odorizzi away from being in big trouble. There’s not guarantee Pineda is the guy we saw last year. Same with Bailey. Hill may never get healthy.

On the offensive side, age could catch up with Cruz. Sano and Buxton could continue to struggle with injuries. Garver and Arraez could easily come back down to earth.

There are so many variables with this club, it is not a hot take to say we could finish behind the Sox. Last year’s success was beyond a best case scenario. The odds of that happening two years in row are probably slim.

The same “best case scenario” that happened for us last year could easily happen for the Sox. They have some legitimate talent beyond their off season acquisitions primed for superstardom (Giolito, Moncada, Anderson, Kopech, Jimenez, even Rodon could be very good). Add those potential breakouts to Grandal, Encarnacion, Abbreu, McCann, Mazara, etc. and things could get scary.

I think many Twins fans could be thinking of the Sox the same way Indians fans were thinking of the Twins this time last year.
    • shimrod, mikelink45, Dman and 3 others like this

Any team that has Edwin Encarnacion on their roster worries me.

    • bobs likes this
I think the Sox are set up to be an 82-85 win team like the 2015 Twins. They do have holes as mentioned in the article. But we have a world class offense which is nearly an all time great line up. Our bullpen is incredibly deep so if we have injured starters their replacements only need to go 4-5 innings. We just signed Chacin for more depth. I am no longer worried about the rotation. I am also sure we can still trade for a starter if need be.
    • wabene and bobs like this
Feb 02 2020 04:16 PM

Injuries are a fact of life for all teams so yeah the Twins need to stay healthy. We all know this team will go as far as the pitching will take us. No matter how good our offense is it stills comes down to pitching. I think the most important thing about the Donaldson signing is his defense. Sano has a great arm but limited range and his lack of agility hurt us in the field. When you are large as Sano its hard to make those snap plays. Hopefully Sano will master his new position. Edwin Encarnacion is a worry for any team and for some reason he seems to have his best days against the Twins so we'll have to pitch him very carefully. Baseball is a hard game to predict. We look pretty good on paper but so does the White Sox.


Feb 02 2020 04:16 PM
The GM for America's Team was hired several weeks before TR and King Theo. With the Reinsdorf checkbook, he was able to thrill Chicago fans with 7 consecutive losing seasons. Why not check back prior to the 2022 season, to see if they have figured out they're a large market team yet?
Feb 02 2020 04:38 PM

I've said all along that the fielding of the White Sox is easily the biggest reason I'm seeing their ascendance as limited. As good as a lineup can be, if your team sucks at fielding as much as theirs does everywhere except at catcher, you are going to allow more runs than a team with lesser offense but better fielding.

Ben Derflott
Feb 02 2020 07:07 PM
In a word, no.

The White Sox spent a bunch of money this winter, but did they really get all that much better? I would argue they did not. They are at least unlikely to totally embarrass themselves this year, but they are going to need literally everything to break just right for them AND see everything go totally sideways for both the Cleveland baseball club and the Twins.

Um,....yes.It's baseball, you should worry about everyone not named the Royals or Tigers.

    • adorduan and bighat like this


Any team that has Edwin Encarnacion on their roster worries me.

We got Donaldson, but let's hope the Whities don't bring back Joey Bats!!:)

    • bighat likes this

We should worry about ourselves. Winning major league games and winning division titles is not supposed to be easy and I don't want them to be easy.If the division comes down to the last week and the Twins are in the mix I think it will be a fun season. I am not specifically worried about the White Sox but I still want to beat them no matter how good they are. I would rather beat the White Sox than the Yankees..Always have.Always will.

    • wabene likes this
Can't worry about any of them. Cleveland has pitching still and a couple really, really good players. Chicago has gotten better. But, the Twins are the best team in this division right now. They just need to announce their presence with authority.
    • wabene likes this
Feb 03 2020 07:17 AM
no reason to worry about a team that cant catch the ball, has rookies penciled in to start up the middle, has a weak bullpen, and has no outfield depth whatsoever.

White Sox don't worry me for this year. In my opinion, they've blown their wad of cash too early in their rebuild. This was trying to buy a winner instead of continuing to develop one (which I think they were doing good at), which I don't feel ever works in that first season.


I think they're about where the Twins were in 2017. They probably win 80 games, but I don't think they take a huge step forward to challenge for the division. 


Any team that has Edwin Encarnacion on their roster worries me.

 I despise him simply for his home run trot. Put your dumb arm down and run like a normal human being. I get there is some personal reason he does it, something about honoring his dad or something? It still looks dumb. 

    • lukeduke1980 likes this

The amount of love that the writer and fans the twins is great. But stop drinking the koolaid long enough to see big picture. The writer states that the sox have a hole at 2nd base Madrigal will be up by April 15 Gold glove cailber. Roberts is going to be the Sox center fielder from day one and he put up ungodly numbers in the minor last year Roberts 2019 32HR 92RBI.328 AVG .376 OPS.624some would say a shutdown centerfielder. Kopeck will be back sometime in May with Rodon coming back sometime in early July. Then they have kids named Dunning, Steviers both pitchers and they should be starting in AAA this year. If their young pitcher come through for them, they will pass the Twins by. The sox filled wholes as a bridge but they are and will be scary this year and the next 5-7 years. Twins fan who see the real picture of the Central. They also have Andrew Vaugh coming up also 

Of course we should worry about all the other teams.Injuries and break out seasons can't be predicted so our team and theirs can change dramatically in any season.We gloat about our lineup with good reason, but if we are going to attack the White Sox defense we have to think about our own 2B/SS/1B positions too and if Buxton isn't in CF our OF is not great either. If Cruz or Donaldson goes out with injuries we see a much less dynamic offense.


Our starting pitching does not match the White Sox.I hope Berrios makes one more step forward but his August swoons are nerve wracking and Odorizzi is so limited to five innings that the "great" bullpen has to be ready early and then the BP has to be ready for the Baily, Dodnak, Chacin, Smeltzer, Thorpe starts.  


Pineda has a career track record that does not make me feel confident that he will be the same pitcher that we saw before the suspension.He had a successful year with Seattle at 22 but was then injured and reappeared with the Yankees at 25 and was 5 -5 1.89 ERA(the only year he was under 4.  


He had three okay years, not great, but useful and then sat out another year with injuries before coming to the Twins and pitching well for half a year before suspension.Three years missed for injuries, 1/2 year for suspension.His arm should be good with all those rest years.  


Like most of you I do not see the White Sox passing us this year, but I am not as certain about our team this year.Starting pitching still counts.

    • USAFChief likes this
Feb 03 2020 10:03 AM
Our starting pitching in Rochester matches up just fine with America's Team.

The Twins shouldn't worry about any team but themselves.


But as fans, should we worry? I guess that's the fun of the season.

    • wabene likes this

You think Tim Anderson had a lot of errors last year? Wait until they're trotting Dallas Keuchel out there every 5 days. It'll be a massacre of grounders up the middle

    • howieramone2 and wabene like this

I’m not worried about the White Sox in terms of the division title. They will be improved but I think only to around .500. I don’t see them winning the 90 something games it should take to win the division. 

I’m more worried about the Twins rotation for the first month-ish and the Indians. 

Worry about everybody.

I like that we're thinking about the environment more and more in 2020... Thank you TD for recycling old posts