We are mere hours from witnessing the Houston Astros win their first World Series in franchise history, but to every other team, November 2nd is day 1 of the offseason. GM’s across baseball are already doing their research on potential targets to sign or trade for to help take their team to the next level. The American League – recently watered down in terms of talent – now have powerhouses such as Cleveland, Houston, and the Yankees. Where do the White Sox stand in all of this as they sit in the midst of their rebuild? Let’s find out as we preview the playoff teams of the American League for 2018.
A.L. East Division Champion- New York Yankees
The Yankees have done a masterful job in retooling their ball club in just 2 years. Led by a young core that features Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorious, and a lights-out bullpen; this team is primed for success for a long time. Once the Yankees spend big on free agents in the 2018 offseason, they very well could be World Series favorites.
A.L. West Division Champion- Houston Astros
The Astros have the luxury of not only being one of the best teams in baseball, but they also play in one of the weaker divisions. Pair those 2 things together and the Astros shouldn’t have a problem heading back to the playoffs to defend their World Series title.
A.L. Central Division Champion- Cleveland Indians
Almost everyone picked the Tribe to come out of the American League this year, so it was somewhat surprising to see them get bounced by the Yankees in the Division Series. While they haven’t won anything yet, this Cleveland team is still primed to make a run for the next few years. There is no legitimate threat to them in the Central, and their balanced offense and deep pitching staff should carry them to a third straight division title.
Wild Card 1- Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox have been overall disappointing the last few seasons given how much talent they have. It seems upper management noticed as well, as they fired manager John Farrell even after winning the division. In Boston, winning is the standard these days. If they can’t win the last game, no coach is safe. Led by a potent lineup and all-world pitcher Chris Sale, the Red Sox have far too much talent to miss out on playoffs entirely. Too many question marks in their starting rotation is the reason I have them as one of the wild cards, and not the division winner.
Wild Card 2- Los Angeles Angels
The Angels just barely missed the playoffs last year, and that was with just half a season of Mike Trout and Justin Upton. If Trout played all of last season, he very well could have been A.L. MVP and Los Angeles surely would have made the playoffs. The Angels still have a year until Trout is a free agent, and I believe they are a fairly safe bet to make the playoffs if everyone stays healthy.
But What About The White Sox?
While I heavily debated putting my beloved White Sox in as the second Wild Card, I think there are just a few too many holes on their roster. Their bullpen is a huge question mark as of now, and the back end of their rotation is still up in the air. Especially with Carlos Rodon possibly starting next season on the DL. Michael Kopech will bring a breath of fresh air to the rotation once he is called up, but as it stands I think the White Sox are still one year away from the playoffs. Although nothing would make me happier if I were to be wrong.
Next season will still be a blast for White Sox fans to take part in. We will be able to witness the strides taken by Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer, Nicky Delmonico, and more. We also will finally get to see Michael Kopech make his long anticipated MLB debut. And if Eloy Jimenez continues to rake like he has been, then he should see some time on the South Side as well.
Don’t worry, White Sox fans. Playoff baseball is getting closer. We just have to do a little bit more waiting. And good things happen to those who wait.