Home » Articles » Where do the White Sox fall in the AL Central race?

Where do the White Sox fall in the AL Central race?

by Tim Moran

As the offseason beings to fade away and the first Spring Training games creep closer, it’s a good time to evaluate the White Sox’s division foes and their outlook for the season ahead. Odds in major sportsbooks have been released, and in line with offseason activity, the overall complexion hasn’t changed significantly. The Guardians, Twins, and White Sox are primed for contention, while the Royals and Tigers appear willing to lose many games and focus on player development. Still, each team has made notable changes.

Here is where each opponent in the AL Central stands as Spring Training gets underway, including who may pose the biggest threat to the White Sox in their quest for the division title.

Kansas City Royals

2022 Finish: Fifth place, 65-97

FanDuel odds to win division: +4000

Notable transactions: Replaced manager Mike Matheny with former Tampa Bay bench coach Matt Quatraro, traded CF Michael Taylor to Minnesota for two pitching prospects, traded Adalberto Mondesi to Boston for a pitching prospect, re-signed RHP Zack Greinke, signed LHP Ryan Yarbrough, signed LHP Aroldis Chapman

Breakdown: Similar to the Tigers, there was some buzz about the Royals possibly jumping into contention in 2022. That certainly did not happen, as they sputtered the entire season. Kansas City then moved on from Mike Matheny as their head coach, going more analytical with Matt Quatraro heading over from the Rays. General manager J.J Picollo must not be in a rush to improve the roster, however, as his office has only made a few moves this offseason.

Starting pitching was his team’s biggest issue, as Greinke and Brady Singer were the team’s only sub-5 ERA starters. Yarbrough and Chapman add a nice left-handed dimension to the bullpen, but the pen is not the main concern here. On the bright side for K.C., Singer seems poised to continue his rise to stardom, Vinnie Pasquantino could be a stellar DH for the long run, and Bobby Witt Jr. had a respectable rookie campaign offensively. Yet the Royals boast just one MLB Top 100 prospect, so immediate draft success will be necessary for the small market franchise to compete any time soon.

In January, they cut their losses on veterans Adalberto Mondesi and Michael Taylor in exchange for prospects, as both players have decent upside and Kansas City got some value in return. That introduces a couple of holes in their lineup, and it will be interesting to see if any young bats stick.

My 2023 Projection: Fourth place, 69-93

Detroit Tigers

2022 Finish: Fourth place, 66-96

FanDuel odds to win division: +2000

Notable transactions: Let LHP Andrew Chafin go to free agency, let RHP Drew Hutchison go to free agency, let SS Willi Castro go to free agency, traded RHP Joe Jimenez to Atlanta for two prospects, traded LHP Gregory Soto and 2B Kody Clemens to Philadelphia for OF Matt Vierling, SS Nick Maton, and C Donny Sands

Breakdown: The Tigers’ lineup was historically atrocious in 2022—Eric Haase was the only player on the roster with more than 35 games played to sport an OPS above league average. Spencer Torkelson struggled mightily in his rookie season, although Kerry Carpenter and Riley Greene looked like potential outfield cornerstones moving forward. Detroit mustered a mediocre rotation meanwhile, as Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal made promising steps with ERAs around 3.50 and decent peripheral stats. However, young stud Casey Mize missed nearly the entire season with an ACL injury followed by Tommy John surgery and will be out until at least this summer.

Trading Soto and Jimenez were smart moves, as the Tigers got some intriguing young players in return. Vierling and Maton have had some success in limited major league time despite not being highly-touted prospects, while the Braves sent a decent farmhand bat in OF/3B Justyn-Henry Malloy for Jimenez. Detroit claims three MLB Top 100 prospects, so there’s some potential for success in a couple of years if things go their way developmentally. But for now, there isn’t any significant help coming up from the farm system.

My 2023 Projection: Fifth place, 68-94

Minnesota Twins

2022 Finish: Third place,78-84

FanDuel odds to win division: +250

Notable transactions: Let OF Jake Cave go to free agency, signed OF Joey Gallo, signed C Christian Vazquez, re-signed SS Carlos Correa, traded 2B Luis Arraez to Miami for SP Pablo Lopez and two prospects

Breakdown: Minnesota led the division for almost the entire half of the 2022 season and then fell apart down the stretch despite multiple trade deadline acquisitions. Byron Buxton was both stellar and oft-injured once again, amassing 4.0 fWAR and 28 home runs in just 92 games. Carlos Correa provided 4.4 fWAR and 22 bombs of his own in 136 games, while lineup anchor Luis Arraez won the batting crown and made the All-Star Game. The lineup behind that trio was respectable, but nothing special. The Twins’ starting pitching was painstakingly mediocre, lacking a true #1 starter and giving 310 innings to Dylan Bundy, Chris Archer, and Josh Winder with their combined 4.74 ERA. Jhoan Duran dazzled in the bullpen, but it was more mediocrity behind him.

Clearly unsatisfied, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine got to work this winter. After watching Correa verbally agree on deals with two separate teams, they snuck in and nabbed him on a six-year contract when neither deal lasted past a failed physical. Prior to that, Minnesota took a flyer on Gallo for some outfield power potential and bolstered their backstop depth with Vasquez. As for the biggest surprise, the Twinkies triggered a major shake-up by trading Arraez for Pablo Lopez. Jorge Polanco and Correa suffice at middle infield, and manager Rocco Baldelli now has some flexibility at DH. Lopez represents an improvement over any of the aforementioned Bundy/Archer/Winder trio but isn’t a #1 or #2 starter by any means, which is par for the course. Minnesota also acquired Michael Taylor from K.C., who fits in nicely on the bench with his stellar glove.

Highly touted prospects OF Alex Kirilloff and SS Royce Lewis are interesting cases. Kirilloff, highly touted, mustered an 88 wRC+ last season between demotions, but it isn’t clear if he fits in at first base or the outfield. Lewis was awesome, mashing to the tune of a .969 OPS in Triple-A, but will likely have to play third base. Otherwise, Minnesota has two more Top 100 prospects that are both far off from the bigs.

I believe the key for Minnesota is to avoid negative regression, stay healthy, and hope the rotation does just enough. Buxton and Correa are killers when full strength, but will Jose Miranda, Gio Urshela, and Nick Gordon each put up OPS+’s above 113 again? Or perhaps Miranda and Gordon will cede way to Kirilloff and Lewis? We’ll see.

My 2023 Projection: Third place, 86-76

Cleveland Guardians

2022 Finish: First place, 92-70

FanDuel odds to win division: +160

Notable transactions: Signed C Mike Zunino, signed 1B Josh Bell, let C Austin Hedges go to free agency, let C Luke Maile go to free agency

Breakdown: After being predicted to finish third or fourth by most pundits, the Guardians shocked the major leagues by winning the AL Central easily in 2022. Although their eventual 11-game margin is a bit misleading, the White Sox and Twins looked lifeless compared to Cleveland in the second half of the season. With fourteen rookie debuts in 2022, Terry Francona‘s team has every reason to believe the AL Central will run through them in 2023, even if the oddsmakers don’t fully agree. Jose Ramirez (6.2 fWAR), Andres Gimenez (6.1), and Steven Kwan (4.4) look to lead the lineup, while Shane Bieber (4.6 fWAR) and Triston McKenzie (3.9) form an intimidating 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation.

Cleveland has always acted like a small-market team and stayed true to that this offseason with just two major-league contracts. Still, Josh Bell is an underrated addition and will likely perform well at 1B/DH with Josh Naylor. Zunino had a major down year Grandal-style in 2022 but offers a high offensive ceiling at catcher in the wake of Hedges’ departure. The bullpen is young and formidable, no change there.

Acquiring exactly zero starting pitchers is a bit puzzling to me, though. Cal Quantrill, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, and Konnor Pilkington combined for a 4.02 ERA alongside similarly pedestrian peripherals. If the Guardians are vulnerable anywhere, it’s the 3-5 spots in their rotation. Behind that, AL Central rivals may also hope for regression from Gimenez, Kwan, Naylor, and Oscar Gonzalez, who all outperformed 2022 projections by good margins.

My 2022 Projection: First place, 93-69

The Verdict

We have enough articles analyzing the White Sox and their offseason thus far, so I won’t go in-depth here. It’s pretty clear—the South Siders’ hope resides in staying healthy, getting more complete play in left and right field, and positive regression from Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Mike Clevinger (TBD), Yoan Moncada and Yasmani Grandal. With all those variables, I could see Chicago winning anywhere from 79 to 95 games, so let’s put the official prediction at 87-75.

Rick Hahn and Co. likely could have done more this winter to bolster the roster, but this season will chiefly come down to the player performance factors mentioned above. Additionally, the White Sox need to beat up the Tigers and Royals while holding their own with Cleveland and Minnesota. They mastered that in 2021 before handing that role off to the Guardians last year.

Ultimately, none of the five AL Central teams improved significantly on paper over the past few months. The division is still within reach for the Sox, but they’ll have to prove they’re a different beast than the 2022 club.

Follow us @SoxOn35th for more!

Featured Image: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Notify of

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
woody partain

It’s just sad White Sox fans deserve better, but as long as Reinsdorf owns the team it will never change. Reindorf is to cheap to improve the White Sox, look what he has done to the Bulls at the trade deadline no moves. It will be more of the same, it was more fun when Bill Veeck owned the team and we had the Southside Hitmen.

John Smith

87 wins with an upside of 95 is kooky talk. Pecota has them at 78 wins, ZIPS at 74. Vegas has them at 83. They’re not winning more than that, with Clevinger single handedly bringing as much bad energy to the team as Tony La Clown did.

They have no 5th starter (and Clevinger has only had one season of over 130 innings in his career, besides), 2b, proven RF, or ability to hit right handed pitching. And oh, no closer either. Graveman is decent but gives up a ton of baserunners for a closer, and is not Liam’s equal. They have no depth anywhere, starting pitching or elsewhere. They had 5 guys who played 100 games or less last year – Moncada, Grandal, Eloy, Robert, TA. Grandal, Eloy, and Robert did not play 100 games in 2021 either. They will undoubtedly have injuries, and they have the equivalent of bad minor league players as backup at every position. Good luck with all that.

I predict 79-83 if they don’t make any trades. If they start off terrible and are sellers by July, they could easily wind up trading Lynn and Giolito. In that case they would have potentially 3/5 or their rotation being bad minor league pitchers the final 2 months. In that scenario, I’ll go with 70-92.

The Twins and Guardians also have entirely right handed starting rotations. Genius to exploit the fact that the Sox have sucked vs even mediocre righties since 2020, and lost Abreu who was one of their best hitters vs RHP. Other teams pay attention to the Sox weaknesses, while the Sox ignore them. They will face right handed starters every game vs the Twins and Guards head to head, and will be sub-.500 against both. You can book that.


You are pipe dreaming if you think the Sox will finish in 2nd place. They still have the same depth issues. Someone goes down, the back is scab at best.

Barring Cease, their starting pitching is suspect. They still have the same glaring hole at 2nd base and RF. And, Grandal is not going to be any better than last year.

This is a team that will be lucky to make to .500. Plus if Cleveland and Minnesota are both still in it at the trade deadline… Both will make try and make improvements… while Hahn will go out and find this year’s Dikeman.

Thomas Hall

The White Sox don’t fall anywhere in the AL Central Race! They fall out of it!

John frank burchardt

I think this team is going to win Central – Robert jr. & Moncada will shine this year.


Moncada carefree attitude has effected Robert and Jimenez in a negative way.Hopefully Andrus can become a positive influence and turn around the aloof attitude on this team.let’s see some aggressiveness for a change

You may also like