Now that the Super Bowl has ended, many people’s thoughts have officially switched to baseball mode. The White Sox are being looked at as one of the most improved teams in baseball and it seems like they have a team good enough on paper to finally compete for the A.L Central Crown.
Since Spring Training is right around the corner, here’s some of my White Sox predictions for 2020.
Comeback Player Of The Year– Reynaldo Lopez
It would be easy for me to put Michael Kopech or Dylan Cease here, but I’m going to go out of the box and say Reynaldo. Kopech won’t spend the entire year in Chicago, and when he does make his return to The Show, he will be on an innings limit. Dylan Cease isn’t really “coming back” from anything besides going through his own personal high’s and low’s during his first year in Chicago. Lopez has been here for a few years now. After posting a 3.91 ERA in 2018, he put up a 5.38 ERA in 2019. We’ve seen flashes of dominance, and other stretches where he can’t seem to get anyone out. I believe 2020 is the year where Lopez puts it all together over the course of a full season and becomes the starter we all know he can become.
Breakout Player Of The Year- Eloy Jimenez
“The Big Baby” went through his deal of slumps and injuries in 2019 and still put up 31 home runs. Now that he has a year under his belt, I truly think 45 home runs is realistic if he stays healthy. This kid has some of the easiest power I’ve ever seen. I expect him to hit for better average in 2020 as well. (last year he hit .267. I can see him more as a .280/.290 guy). With protection all around him in the lineup by the likes of Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Abreu, and Yasmani Grandal, it’s safe to expect gargantuan things from Eloy in 2020.
X Factor- Michael Kopech/Nomar Mazara
Whenever Michael Kopech makes his return to Chicago, anything he gives will be a huge help to the Sox. If he pitches like he can, then the playoff hopes for the team should skyrocket.
Similarly, anything Nomar Mazara gives the team is a huge bonus given their other additions to the lineup. Lets say he doesn’t improve and hits 20 home runs and 80 RBI while batting .260. You take that from the 7 or 8 spot in the lineup every time. If the White Sox ARE able to unlock something and he takes off, that makes the lineup damn near impossible to pitch around.
Regression Candidate- Tim Anderson
I’ll be frank: Tim Anderson isn’t going to hit .330 again in 2020, and that’s okay. I do think Tim unlocked something last year and think he can be a .290 hitter that gets on base at a .320 clip while stealing a ton of bases. He can be a 25-25 guy. If he improves his defensive skills, then he just adds that much more value. So while I think he’ll regress, I think he’s still a hell of a player and will be a big part of the team’s success in 2020.
Rookie Of The Year– Luis Robert
I’d be foolish to put anyone besides Luis Robert here. That’s not knocking Nick Madrigal at all, it’s just that Robert is now guaranteed to start the year in Chicago, and his tools are out-of-this-world freaky. He could win the actual A.L ROY award and it would surprise no one. a 25-25 season as a rookie isn’t out of the question. He should start the year batting 6th or 7th, but I believe Robert is the future lead-off man for the White Sox for years to come. This guy is the truth.
Cy Young- Lucas Giolito
Last year, Giolito literally went from worst pitcher in baseball to a Cy Young candidate. A simple change to his mechanics and a big change to his mental view of the game seemed to flip a switch. He was downright dominant last year besides a few bad starts in the second half. I think last year is who Giolito really is as well. He got his velocity on his fastball back to the mid/upper 90’s, but most importantly, he can throw his change in any count. Look for him to lead the staff in wins and ERA in 2020.
MVP- Yoan Moncada
Another one that is seemingly a no brainer. Moncada is quite clearly the best overall player on the team. He will hit for average, power, steal bases, and play a great 3rd base. Last year he put up a 5.7 fWAR and people are still saying he’s just scratching the surface of what he can become. If the White Sox make the playoffs in 2020, Moncada has a chance to win A.L MVP.
Record- 90-72, 2nd In A.L Central
This White Sox team on paper is truly an enigma. I can see them tanking out due to major regression and winning 75 games, or I can see the young pitching take a huge step forward while Robert and Madrigal become instant contributors en route to 95 wins. I’m settling in at 90 because I think we get a little regression from players like Anderson and Colome but also see some improvement in guys like Cease and Lopez. Moncada and Giolito will both be studs again while the team puts the rest of the American League on notice. While I don’t see them overtaking the Twins for the division, they’ll be in the Wild Card hunt until the very end. I think playoffs for the Sox at this point is a coin flip but the optimist in me sees them squeaking in by clinching a Wild Card spot in the last week of the season.