Last season was a disappointing one for the White Sox, to put it mildly.
Around this time a year ago, every Sox On 35th contributor predicted the White Sox to repeat as AL Central champions. The team obviously did not, as they finished second in the division with an 81-81 record. The offseason also saw the departure of fan favorite Jose Abreu to the Houston Astros and the (hopefully) temporary loss of closer Liam Hendriks as he battles non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Despite the negatives, however, the White Sox hired a new manager in Pedro Grifol, who seems to be bringing a hopeful optimism with him. The South Siders even appear to be relatively healthy for the moment as well, which has led to many fans asking, “Are the White Sox back?”
The team’s competitive window that began in 2020 most likely closes after this season, so we asked many of our contributors here at Sox On 35th to give their predictions for how the next 162 games will play out.
Jordan Lazowski | Editor-In-Chief
Prediction: 90-72, first in the AL Central
81 wins was the low-water mark for the 2022 team, which was plagued by injuries and career-worst performances by nearly every player not named Dylan Cease. So, anything below 81 wins is overly pessimistic in my opinion.
From there, it gets a little bit harder to figure out the win total for this team. Replacing Benintendi with Abreu, on paper, basically comes out even in the WAR department, as does replacing Cueto with Clevinger. Andrus will likely be similar to what Josh Harrison provided for most of 2022. So, without making drastic player improvements, the record improvement would have to come through better injury luck and much better performance.
93 wins was the high water mark for the relatively same team in 2021. Perhaps it’s the Spring Training Kool-Aid, but I still see this team as capable coming near that win total once again. I think they’re the best team in the AL Central, and whenever I’m making predictions, I don’t tend to assume long-term injuries will occur. I think, overall, a new staff and the current core of players will be enough to take care of a still-struggling AL Central.
Tim Moran | Senior Contributor
Prediction: 87-75, second in the AL Central
There are several reasons for my estimation that the team will improve by five wins over last season, but primarily it comes down to positive regression and improved defense. Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Yasmani Grandal, and Lance Lynn should all be much better, and I love having Oscar Colas and Andrew Benintendi patrolling the outfield instead of Andrew Vaughn, Gavin Sheets, AJ Pollock, Eloy Jimenez.
Adam Kaplan | Senior Contributor
Prediction: 79-83, second in the AL Central
While I am surprisingly more optimistic to begin the season than I thought, I still believe this team is too shallow. It’s only going to take a couple of injuries, from a squad that’s been consistently injury-prone these past few years, to reveal a sub-standard team that I think will barely stay afloat once the dog days of summer roll around.
This team needs to stay healthy AND have bouncebacks from several players AND require all the good players to stay good AND require a handful of young players to take a step forward with their development. That’s too many “ifs” for me to be confident enough to predict a winning record.
Noah Phalen | Contributor
Prediction: 88-74, second in AL Central
While I think there is a large variance in possible outcomes for this team, I love the way Pedro Grifol has these guys training, and I truly think it’ll make a large impact. I think they’ll have better injury luck too, and those things combined will be worth a few wins.
They’ll be in the division battle the whole way, and while they will ultimately come up a couple of games short, 88 wins should be good enough for a Wild-Card berth.
Nico Andrade | Contributor
Prediction: 89-73, first in AL Central
I think new manager Pedro Grifol leads this team to a successful season. The White Sox will not quite eclipse that 90-win mark, but they’ll be close to it. Despite the disarray of injuries and everything else in between last season, the White Sox still had the opportunity to win more than the 81 games that they did. As such, 89 wins does not seem that far-fetched to me.
I fully expect Grifol to come in, set the tone, and hold players accountable day in and day out.
Thatcher Zalewski | Contributor
Prediction: 92-70, first in AL Central
The White Sox look to bounce back after a disappointing 2022 season, and they do just that with new manager Pedro Grifol. The team will return to the postseason and regain the division crown. They also added All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi this offseason. Benintendi makes this roster more complete and provides the left-handed bat this lineup has been lacking.
The White Sox are going forward with the best 26 guys they’ve got and that should be a key factor in their success, allowing them to return to the postseason.
Matt Cotner | Contributor
Prediction: 86-76, second in AL Central
I think the White Sox will be marginally better than last season. I expect the offense to improve, especially for power, and the managerial change should help as well. Ultimately, I am too concerned about starting pitching depth and too disheartened by the 2022 season to expect much more from a fairly similar team.
Jordan Lazowski: Andrew Vaughn
I’m still a believer in Andrew Vaughn’s ceiling, and I think that having him move back to his natural position will be a benefit to both him and the team as a whole. The amount of pressure he likely feels to start the season will be extreme, given that he’s now looking to be next in a line that includes Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko, and Jose Abreu – at the same time, he’s also shown the maturity of someone who can handle that sort of pressure.
Look for Vaughn to finally take that step forward this season that we’ve all been waiting for.
Tim Moran: Dylan Cease
I still love the ceiling of some of the team’s bats, but Dylan Cease has actually walked the walk as a budding superstar. However, if I were to go with a position player, I’d pick Eloy Jimenez. Baseball fans definitely slept on Jimenez’s amazing second half last year, and I expect him to stay healthy and continue his offensive onslaught as a primary designated hitter in 2023.
Adam Kaplan: Tim Anderson
Tim Anderson is one of the few position players on the 2023 White Sox who has played in an All-Star Game. For all of the hype and hopeful bouncebacks of the rest of the team, Anderson is really the only player who has consistently performed at a high level for multiple years, to the point where I think we, as a fan base, are collectively underrating him.
Anderson didn’t have a great second half of 2022, which seemingly coincided with rumors surrounding his personal life; however, he’s basically done nothing but perform when called upon, and he’ll do so again in 2023. As the current longest-tenured White Sox, the shortstop is going to be the leader we all know he can be.
Noah Phalen: Eloy Jimenez
I think people forget how good of a hitter Eloy Jimenez is because he’s never on the field. He slimmed down a bit in the offseason, and pairing that with fewer starts in the outfield should help him stay in the lineup for more games this season. If he stays healthy and provides a consistent presence, people are going to remember that he’s the best overall hitter on this team.
Nico Andrade: Dylan Cease
Coming off a phenomenal year last year, Dylan Cease will look to take that next step in being the ace of this pitching staff, and one of the best pitchers in baseball. Simply put, when Cease throws the ball, the White Sox have a good shot of winning that day.
As long as the run support is there and the walks are kept at a minimum, Cease will have another solid year. I fully expect him to be Cy Young caliber once again in 2023.
Thatcher Zalewski: Eloy Jimenez
Eloy Jimenez has the power potential for a 40-home run season and he will be the guy in the middle of the lineup who does just that. Jimenez, despite his lackluster defense, has enough offensive output to make up for that. He has shown in the past what he can do when healthy. Just look at the second half of 2022, he was one of the best hitters in baseball. This is while spending the majority of his time as the designated hitter.
Jimenez should be the leader in almost all the White Sox offensive categories in 2023.
Matt Cotner: Luis Robert Jr.
This is the year Luis Robert Jr. puts it all together. His top-tier speed and range in the outfield are unquestioned. This speed will also help him to steal more bases this year with the new rule changes. I think this is also the year he hits for more power, doubling his career-high of 13 home runs. I expect him to not only be the White Sox MVP but also be one of the top center fielders in the league this season.
Team Cy Young
Jordan Lazowski: Dylan Cease
Honorable mention here goes to Lucas Giolito, who looks strong this Spring. However, the Cy Cease journey is back again this season, and I think with improvements to his arsenal that include potentially throwing his changeup more, he will be back in the Cy Young picture once again in some form. Even a slight step back from 2022 sets him as the best pitcher on this staff.
Tim Moran: Dylan Cease
See my previous answer. Dylan Cease got a bit lucky last year in terms of ERA vs. his advanced stats, but I’m still projecting a 2.50 ERA year for the Mustache Man.
Adam Kaplan: Lance Lynn
- 2021 Lynn: 2.69 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 3.91 K/BB, All Star, 3rd in AL Cy Young voting
- 2022 Lynn: 2.52 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 8.9 K/BB (from July 23 through the end of the season)
- WBC Lynn: 9.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 8.0 K/BB
When healthy, Lance Lynn is one of the best pitchers in the game. He was clearly hurt and recovering from injury to begin his 2022 campaign, but he’s healthy and dominant now. The veteran will be a force to reckon with this upcoming year.
Noah Phalen: Dylan Cease
I’m going with the obvious answer here, though I was very tempted to pick Michael Kopech. Cease emerged as one of the premier starting pitchers in the American League last season, and even slight regression would still have him as the best of this group.
Nico Andrade: Dylan Cease
Thatcher Zalewski: Dylan Cease
This is the obvious and popular choice here. After finishing second in the 2022 AL Cy Young race, Dylan Cease will look to improve upon what was an already fantastic campaign.
Cease is the Opening Day starter and should make his first All-Star appearance in 2023. He is arguably the best starter on the staff and has proved that he can be a number one in the rotation for years to come.
If he can limit the walks, there is no reason he can’t win the award in 2023.
Matt Cotner: Dylan Cease
I will go with the likely popular pick of Dylan Cease here. He was flat-out dominant in 2022, and has the best stuff on the staff. I expect him to continue his dominance and win the AL Cy Young this year.
Jordan Lazowski: Lucas Giolito
Giolito has looked really good this Spring, striking out hitters at a 2019/2020 rate (12.9 K/9, 21 K in 14.2 IP). He made tangible improvements once again to his mechanics, showing that he is indeed willing to work to make improvements. His change in arm action should also allow him – should he be willing to use it – to incorporate his curveball a bit more. Though, at this point in his career, he might just end up truly being a FB/SL/CH pitcher only. If that’s the case, then he needs to be a lot stronger than last season – and his Spring Training results should serve as a point of optimism.
In a contract year, Lucas Giolito will be motivated to prove 2022 was a fluke – and I think it is as well. After three solid seasons, look for that form of Giolito to return in 2023.
Tim Moran: Yoan Moncada
It has to be Yoan Moncada. Last year was a huge letdown for the third baseman, but he’s looked amazing in Spring Training and World Baseball Classic action. We all know how bright he can shine, especially in odd years!
Adam Kaplan: Lucas Giolito
- 2019 Giolito: 3.41 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 4.0 K/BB, 176.2 IP, 6th in AL Cy Young voting
- 2020 Giolito: 3.48 ERA, 3.19 FIP, 3.49 K/BB, 72.1 IP, 7th in AL Cy Young voting
- 2021 Giolito: 3.26 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 3.89 K/BB, 160.0 IP, 11th in AL Cy Young voting (from April 27 through the end of season, after he gave up 7 ER in 1.0 innings to Boston)
Lucas Giolito was consistently excellent for three straight years after, as the commercial so lovingly put it, being the worst pitcher in baseball. Giolito seemingly lived up to that moniker again in 2022, thanks to an ERA just shy of 5.00. However, I refuse to believe that a pitcher that had very obviously turned a corner suddenly turned back into a pumpkin. Plus, it’s the season before he’ll get his big contract, which will motivate him to make it one of his best campaigns yet.
Noah Phalen: Yasmani Grandal
I’ve been pretty consistent with this take the whole offseason, but I love what I’ve seen from Yasmani Grandal over the past few months. Grandal admitted, himself, that he was never really healthy last year, and he spent the offseason training with some of the strength and conditioning staff with the Blackhawks. He’s looked good this spring, and I think the power will be back. If the power is back, the walks will come back with it.
Nico Andrade: Yasmani Grandal
Yasmani Grandal having a bounce-back year will give the White Sox a huge boost, and it will take a little bit of weight off of the shoulders of Andrew Vaughn. The expectations for Jose Abreu’s replacement are high, but I feel as if the expectations for the veteran guys on this team should be even higher.
Grandal finding his stroke back, and drawing walks means we’re in for a good year. Also if you see the Moneyball GIF on your Twitter timeline from our own Jordan Lazowskim that means we’re really cooking.
Thatcher Zalewski: Yasmani Grandal
Yasmani Grandal played most of the 2022 season injured and now that he is back to full strength, he is due for a big year.
Grandal had an excellent 2021 season which showcased many bat drops. Many expected that to continue in 2022 but that just wasn’t the case. Grandal has talked all offseason about the work he’s done to get back to his old ways. With all this offseason training it seems almost destined that the former All-Star gets back on track and reclaims his spot as one of the best catchers in baseball.
Matt Cotner: Lucas Giolito
Lucas Giolito put together some dominant years on the mound before his down year last year. He has acknowledged that he wasn’t at his best and seems to be making adjustments to ensure last year was a fluke.
I expect vintage Giolito and his nasty changeup to be on display this season with a return to form as a top-of-the-rotation starter.
Jordan Lazowski: Tim Anderson
Anderson’s inclusion here is strictly because of his clubhouse leadership, which has been in question throughout this offseason as Pedro Grifol looks to build his culture in Chicago. Of course, a Tim Anderson that hits .300 and slugs nearly .450 is valuable to the lineup, but we’ve seen what happens when this team goes without a leader for any extent of time.
I also considered including Grifol on this list, who is going to be fundamental to the success of this team, especially as they go on losing streaks. However, I didn’t want to put the state of the season on the manager, because at the end of the day, it’s still the players who make the team what it is.
Tim Moran: Luis Robert Jr.
Alongside Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert Jr. has the biggest difference between his floor and his ceiling as a player. I thought his injuries last year were to blame for some bad stretches, yet he still ended up with above-average offensive numbers. Superstar, five-tool Robert vs. oft-injured, auto-strikeout Robert will make a huge difference for the White Sox.
Adam Kaplan: Health
If all expected Opening Day starters remain relatively healthy throughout the season, then I feel confident in the Sox’s chances to win the AL Central. But baseball doesn’t work that way, and the White Sox in recent years certainly don’t work that way.
Luis Robert Jr, Eloy Jimenez, and Yasmani Grandal have all had lengthy IL stints these past two seasons, and it’s foolish to think that Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, and Mike Clevinger will all make 30+ starts. I worry just how successful this team will be if players like Gavin Sheets, Hanser Alberto, and Romy Gonzalez have to play for months on end.
Noah Phalen: Luis Robert Jr.
Luis Robert Jr. will be entering his fourth big league season, and throughout the first three, we’ve heard praise after praise about his potential, without the production to back it up. Injuries have no doubt been a factor, but it’s time for Robert to produce results.
This 2023 season will be a big one for his career trajectory, and his performance will have a big effect on how far the White Sox can go.
Nico Andrade: Bullpen
A good bullpen is key to the success of many great teams, and that will continue to hold true this year. When the Sox get five-six innings from their starters, they need to turn it over to guys in the backend who can convert a high majority of the time.
Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly, and Reynaldo Lopez will be important pieces to help cover the absence of All-Star closer Liam Hendriks.
Thatcher Zalewski: Oscar Colas
The rookie Oscar Colas has been in headlines all Spring long. Even the White Sox made him one of their marquee players with a banner on 35th and Shields.
Colas is slated to get the majority of the playing time in right field for the White Sox this year and is poised to do big things. If he can take his success from the minor leagues up to Chicago, he will play a big part in another AL Central title in 2023.
Matt Cotner: Tim Anderson
Now, how can one of the White Sox’s best players be their X-Factor? Well, I think the White Sox need him in the clubhouse. His energy is infectious, and with the departure of Jose Abreu, he has even more of a responsibility to be the new leader.
After the downtrodden 2022 season, I think it is important that this team has more fun again, and Anderson is integral to that. If we can see more moments like the one in Iowa two seasons ago, it will bode quite well for the White Sox.
What are your predictions for the season? Let us know in the comments below!
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