Adding It All Up
So as an effort to look specifically at the whole picture, the above table is what you get when all proposed starters played 150 games apiece. This is the perfect world, more or less, where injury and depth is no concern. I could have used playing time projections from BP or CHONE, but I'm not convinced they're any more accurate than this admittedly more approximate approach. The idea here is that the perfect world projection minus the comments and caveats I've made in the last week and a half should give the reader an honest idea of how to evaluate the teams relative to each other.
There are some notes, though. I generally took the best available player as rated by WAR. Specifically, this means choosing Mark Teahen over Jose Guillen for 150 games, which is a 2 win swing. There are obvious issues with the method. I'm just trying to get close. Also I left Josh Fields in for 150 games instead of the Better Mitt. Just, you know, because.
Oh and Avg. Diff is the number of wins difference between the average of the non-Sox ALC teams and the Sox. So it purports to tell which positions the Sox are worst/best at relative to their division competition.
It Kinda Looks Like The White Sox Suck
It's easier to see why most projection systems are sticking them in the 75-win range. The breakout players from last year still only have one really good season under their respective belts (Alexei and Q!) and the old power hitters are older and less powerful. It's reasonable and fairly cautious. But is it right? The method specifically ignores health and depth and generally docks points for non-established talent.
The last issue is basically a Q! and Alexei issue, though CHONE gives Alexei a free pass. Q! gets significantly more scrutiny and the difference is between our own Miguel Cabrera and our own Carlos Guillen. Quentin would have hit for about 45 runs above average had he played a full season last year and is yet projected to hit for 17. That's about 3 wins difference.
Depth is less an issue, but Wilson Betemit can be an adequate 3B/2B type over a full season and that could certainly come into play given the nebulous immediate organizational future there.
And then there's team health. This is within the club's control and something for which it has an excellent reputation. I've talked about Herm Schneider Magic Salve™ as has Nate Silver. And AJ Pierzynski's performance last season compared to the rest of the division serves to illustrate. He's no Mauer, but there are only three catchers in the league over the past three seasons to play more games. Most teams have to make up this difference in games played with replacement level catching. The win difference between a star and average and average and replacement is about the same. And on a team lacking in star power, the implications for marginally better team health are very plain.