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Kinda didn’t want to run afoul of the mouse so maybe there’s a Chris, a former WWE wrestler, and anthropomorphized sequoia and others under that hat, or maybe not. Hat is (c) 47 Brands and logo Cleveland Guardians and Major League Baseball.

So ONCE AGAIN the revered PECOTA deigned to release their preseason projections and put the White Sox at 3rd in the AL Central behind The Cleveland (not really the) Guardians and the Minnesota (has only ONE metro area) Twins. Sure, at this point, nothing less than crushing mediocrity is expected from 35th and Shields, after the not a rebuild has yielded two playoff cups of coffee and the mass mind numbing of 2022. That doesn’t mean that Sox fan pessimism should carry over to actual projections. So, as has been the wont of this blog since 2021’s bold PECOTA prediction that the Sox weren’t gonna be nuthin’, PECOTA will be proven wrong by comparing the various position groups of the Sox and their rivals. Over the next five posts the Sox will be compared to, in order: The Cleveland Guardians, The Minnesota Twins, The AL East contenders, The AL West contenders, and the similarly rated Rangers and Red Sox who are an interesting case study in trying to spend into mattering and returning to the Red Sox of the 80’s and 90’s. In all likelihood the Sox are better than the once again youth-oriented Royals, or the Tigers and Orioles…so further we sayeth naught as we have so many times before. Therefore, without further ado, PECOTA please grab an egg, get yer sucking lips ready and let’s see why the White Sox are better than the Guardians. Even though the Guardians were better than the Sox last year. Oy.

As usual, and notwithstanding bringing Elvis back in the building on the eve of spring training, there is an assumption that Rick Hahn has nothing of impact up his sleeve. Based on the rest of the offseason, he doesn’t own sleeves.

Ranking the teams by position:

Rotation: White Sox over Guardians. This is almost a tossup because the top three Guardians in Shane Bieber, Tristan McKenzie and Cal Quantrill are pretty good. Bieber as the ace was not the strikeout guy he had been in the past, and McKenzie and Quantrill had career years last year. Keep in mind, neither had much of a career prior to that so the bar was really low. If they regress at all the Cleveland rotation goes from tough to serviceable. Meanwhile, Cy Young runner-up Dylan Cease is still joined by Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn, who have, respectively, a desire to earn a giant contract and has a permanent chip embedded in his shoulder (rumored to be sour cream and cheddar). You have a feeling that a slimmed down Giolito can and will rebound, while Lynn will be fairly reliable when healthy (and he says he’s healthy). Where things go the Sox way the most is at 4 and 5. Michael Kopech as the Sox’ 4th starter is in a make-or-break year to show that he is a top-end rotation option, and he really actually truly has the talent to do it. The x-factor is Mike Clevinger, who regardless of what anyone thinks of him as a person, is in Sox camp and is set to be in the rotation. If he isn’t suspended and pitches close to his old self…that’s a big plus for the Sox as the 5th starter. The Guardians have issues at both 4 and 5, where Aaron Civale and Zac Plesac are trying to show that they belong in an MLB rotation at all after injuries and mediocre stuff caught up with them. It may come down to a minor leaguer making the leap for each team, which for Cleveland always seems like they have several options are available while the Sox have Davis Martin. And Martin was fine last year. The Sox run four to six deep at a higher talent level over Cleveland, with two to three fewer question marks. The Sox have the advantage.

Bullpen: Guardians over White Sox. Liam Hendriks is the best closer in the game that won’t pitch this year. Emmanuel Clase is the best closer in baseball who will pitch this year. The Guardians had as solid a pen as anyone last year and this year seems no different with most of that pen retained and an elite closer. The Sox will be returning with the same group as well, but it is one that had questions last year and has all-new questions this year. Namely, who closes? How quickly will Garrett Crochet return and find his stuff? Is Joe Kelly finished imploding? Inquiring minds want to know. Until the Sox get good answers, their bullpen is suspect. Guardians advantage.

Outfield: White Sox over Guardians. Luis Robert Jr. can basically begin and end this discussion. The best the Guardians offer in the OF is Steven Kwan, who is what Sox fans thought Nick Madrigal would be at the plate in terms of getting on base and never striking out. What Kwan is not is MVP talented like Robert. All La Pantera needs is sustained health to really show what he can do. As a result, Robert will likely show up to camp in “the best shape of his life”, as will about 20 other guys on the team. Flanking Robert is solid MLB LF Andrew Benintendi and the Sox’ top(ish) prospect Oscar Colas. Colas should show a lot of power and and decent average, and decent D to boot. Well, to not boot. To stage left of Kwan is Myles Straw, who the Astros traded to Cleveland because he couldn’t hit. Straw has largely proven them right. The Guardians of right field are a mashup of youngsters likely to be lead by Oscar Gonzalez, who played well last year in a way that Oscar Colas could at a minimum meet but should surpass. The Sox have the better Oscar, maybe for best picture as opposed to, say, best supporting actor. And the Sox have Luis Robert Jr. And the Sox win this position.

Shortstop: White Sox over Guardians. Tim Anderson remains a star player until further notice. Amed Rosario remains a fairly average player until further notice. Rosario won’t hurt the former tribe with his bat or glove, but he’s never really shown that he can transcend anything. Nice and solidly…average. On the other side, TA has a way of carrying the Sox at the plate for long stretches and doesn’t hurt the team in the field when his head and health are in it. This really isn’t close. Sox advantage by a mile.

Third Base: Guardians over White Sox. Yoán Moncada is increasingly looking like a bust at the plate. The talent could still be there and he could reinvent himself a bit with the shift rules, but unless he develops a TA-like approach and gets those TA-like results, Yoán will remain a good glove with sporadic offense. José Ramírez remains a star player and there’s not many that can touch him. There’s no real chance YoYo beats Ramirez on the field. Now in a rap battle…hmmmm. But on the field, Guardians with a clear advantage.

Second Base: Guardians over White Sox. Andrés Giménez will always win the game of most diacritical marks in his name over Lenyn Sosa, Romy Gonzalez, and Elvis Andrus. Elvis isn’t really the player the Sox got late last year and hasn’t been a star in years, and his competition (if they are) are unknowns. Giménez spent last year sporting an .837 OPS over 146 games…so diacritical marks aren’t the only thing giving the Guardians the advantage. Don’t get any ideas, Ĺéûřŷ Ɠãŕĉĭä. Guardians win this round.

First Base: Pick ’em. Josh Naylor or Josh Bell will be joshing around with opposing players at first base for the Guardians, while Andrew Vaughn gets the Sox’ base at the Improv. In addition to Josh Naylor (and his bro Noah “Bo” Naylor) having the best porn names in baseball, Josh Naylor is coming off a breakout year where he showed significant home run power, but also platoon splits that compelled the Josh Bell signing. Bell has been maddeningly inconsistent in his career, sometimes aflame like 12 suns and sometimes colder than a pile of frozen halibut. Vaughn, meanwhile, is someone Sox fans seem to have lost their love for. It’s odd, too, because he has shown improvement every year and is now back to his more natural position portending greater comfort at the plate, thus portending greater results. By year’s end this could easily be tilted towards the Sox and heavily so. For now it is Bell’s established but inconsistent bat and Naylor’s potential versus what could/should be the best of Andrew Vaughn, and that’s a wash to start the year.

Catcher: White Sox over the Guardians. Yasmani Grandal is not dead. In fact, he’ll certainly be one of the multitudes of Sox players showing up to camp in the “best shape of his life”. Knee and back issues have plagued Yas, but when healthy he should still hit decently and benefit from the shift changes, and he still frames pitches well. Last year’s Sox starter Seby Zavala is not a fully known quantity but had been serviceable and startable. The Guardians are the latest team to roll out Mike Zunino, who is all or nothing with the bat, known for homerun power and naught else. Think Yas in 2021 but without the walks. That’s at Zunino’s best, but his best is likely past at age 31. Rookie Bo Naylor has some pedigree and should be the starter for Cleveland at some point. Naylor could be the best of the bunch here eventually, but there isn’t any guarantee that his rookie year could surpass a Yas rebound or some growth from Seby. Yas “in the best shape of…yada yada yada” and a Seby who won’t suck as hard as he’s projected are better than a rookie and a career backup. Sox win for the moment.

DH: White Sox over Guardians. Josh Bell/Josh Naylor versus Eloy Jimenez is not really a contest. Bell, as noted, has been frustratingly inconsistent as a Pirate, National, and Padre, so why wouldn’t that carry over to Cleveland? Naylor, as noted, may be Gavin Sheets with swagger and a better average. Swagger and consistency are hallmarks of Eloy when healthy, and health is the only thing that keeps Eloy from regularly being the force that he is at the plate. The best way the Sox can figure to keep him healthy is to keep him from being tempted to jump into walls, nets, other players, crashing zeppelins, etc. Hands down and feet planted, Eloy is far more complete and dangerous than Bell has ever been or that Naylor seems to be. Advantage Sox.

Egg Sucking Time? Without delving into any other advanced analytics, position by position the White Sox have the best rotation, DH, outfield, shortstop and catcher, and are tied at first base with an arrow pointing way up. Where they are behind, bullpen is the one that could hurt the Sox the most. Being behind at third base and second base on a lineup scale is mitigated a bit by the drop off between Andrew Benintendi and Myles Straw, and the possibility of the gap between Yas/Seby and Zunino/Naylor. Given the unknown of Lenyn or an allegedly re-imagined Romy, or even an Elvis comeback special, 2B or not 2B is a legit question. Maybe it is just third base and the bullpen that the Sox are really behind on. Toss in having a Cy Young runner up at the top of the rotation and a potential MVP in CF, it stands to reason that the advantage goes to the White Sox.

So what the absolute hell is PECOTA doing here? There’s no way that the Sox are worse than the Cleveland Guardians. PECOTA, go suck that egg.


And what, pray tell, is the Staff of Cork and Kerry? Scholars maintain two definitions are valid: first it is the assembled persons who provide the excellent food and drink at Cork and Kerry at the Park and Cork and Kerry Beverly. Also, same said scholars maintain that the Staff of Cork and Kerry is a weapon of mythical and fearsome power, wielded by only those of rare strength and skill, or possessing a power of spirit to rise to greatness. So hath the White Sox some such person? Not yet, anyway. The season hasn’t started, and Rick Hahn didn’t exactly overwhelm in the offseason. So out of hope, Liam Hendriks shall wield it against cancer and smite it. The fact that he’s in camp and throwing is proof that he is fighting the fight and worthy, therefore, to wield the Staff of Cork and Kerry. Good luck, Liam.


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