The dead period between Hot Stove season and Spring Training leaves us in a state of destitution. We eagerly devour anything that even remotely resembles baseball news, scurrying under the table to feast on the crumbs of a Wily Mo Pena minor-league deal or bizarre rule change possibility.
Preseason projections are the perfect meal to fill that void, as they provide our first glimpse into how the 2017 is expected, at least by one model, to play out.
In regards to the AL Central and, particularly, the White Sox, this season’s projections were not expected to be, nor were they revelatory. The Indians will be good and the rest of the division will be a muddled mess of mediocrity.
You can split hairs between the Twins, Tigers, White Sox, and Royals if you want, but it’s no secret that, more than any other division in the American League, there’s a clear line of separation between the favorite and the rest.
What’s particularly interesting about the White Sox win total is that it immediately leads to a few different lines of thought:
- The White Sox aren’t done tearing things down yet. With a bonafide front-end starter in Jose Quintana still in the mix, as well as useful veterans like Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera, Brett Lawrie, Miguel Gonzalez, David Robertson, and Nate Jones, they can get a whole helluva lot worse between now and the end of the season (they’re only projected to win two fewer games this season than last), something PECOTA obviously can’t predict.
- The White Sox aren’t much worse off than a lot of other teams. It’s easy to view the White Sox through a microscope. You can easily pick out the team’s flaws, whether it’s the outfielders, catcher, or backend of the rotation, because you follow the team on a daily basis. But the rest of the division has different flaws of varying degrees, whether it be Detroit’s aging core and stars-and-scrubs approach, Minnesota’s youth and train wreck of a pitching staff, or Kansas City’s, well, PECOTA and the Royals have a history. You can nit pick between the four teams, questioning which team’s flaws are more glaring or more detrimental, but it seems clear that from, 1-through-25, there’s not a whole lot separating these teams.
- The White Sox really screwed up. It’s been shouted from the rooftops in this little corner of the internet over and over again, our face is red and our eyes are bugging out of our heads. But the White Sox flat-out blew it by not successfully building around the cheap, talented core they had the last couple of seasons. It will be fun to follow and dream on the prospects the White Sox have and will acquire over the next few years, but given the division’s dearth of contenders, there wasn’t too much standing in their way on the path to contention.
PECOTA has been within 2-3 wins of projecting the White Sox win total in each of the last three seasons, but the main difference between those seasons and 2017 is that there’s no expectation of them half-assing an attempt at contention this time around. So while these projections are beneficial in setting expectations in most cases, the expectation here for the White Sox is that it’s likely to get a whole lot worse before long.
Lead Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports