FanPost

Crazy Prediction: The 2013 Chicago White Sox could realistically win the AL Central

So far the baseball press this year isn't really giving this year's White Sox team much of a chance. Baseball Prospectus had them finishing 3rd in the AL Central with a below .500 record and only 18% chance at a post season berth. There is a thought that last year's team overachieved a bit, that Chris Sale will regress, and that with the loss of AJ Pierzynski, this team won’t amount to much.

I think projections that have the Sox under .500 or far out of the race for the division are pessimistic. First, I don’t feel that the Tigers will be as good as they were last year, and second, I feel that this White Sox team of 2013 is at the very worst, unchanged from last year's club as far as projections and ability goes.

For the past 3 or 4 years now I have posted my projections on SB Nation sites, and generally am not too far off. I use Baseball Prospectus' Annual book to base my projection on, tweak the numbers a bit and come up with what I feel is a true talent prediction. In 2008 I had predicted the San Francisco Giants would be a Wild Card team, I missed on that, but they were the surprise team of baseball that year. The following year I had predicted the same for the San Diego Padres, and they missed the playoffs by a game I believe that year. Last year's Washington Nationals team that made the playoffs was no surprise to me, because, I predicted they would make the playoffs.

This year I also incorporated ZIPS projections in my framework and these are the results:

AL Central

Detroit Tigers 87 wins

Chicago White Sox 87 wins

Kansas City Royals 77 wins

Cleveland Indians 76 wins

Minnesota Twins 62 wins

Tigers - Anibal Sanchez returns to his normal self and Cabrera's non triple crown keeps them as the favorite but not as good as most people think. White Sox - Solid across the board team, just as good as last year's team, with a little Pythagorean luck could in division. Royals - Addition of Shields and Davis improves team short term, but at the loss of Myers really hurts. Indians - all of the offensive additions help build up from a very low base, but still a long way to go. Twins - in a complete rebuild, and if not for the Astros, would be the worst team in baseball.

AL East

New York Yankees 93 wins

Tampa Bay Rays 91 wins

Toronto Blue Jays 88 wins

Boston Red Sox 81 wins

Baltimore Orioles 80 wins

Yankees - due to all of the injuries, this team is probably more of a mid-80's win team, with no playoff aspirations. Rays - addition of Wil Myers and continual flow of top flight pitching prospects snatches the division for the Rays. Blue Jays - all of the additions will come up short, but like the Sox could sneak in with some luck and make all of the moves pay off. Red Sox - all of the free agent money spent this offseason does not get them back to the playoffs in what is a rebuild time for the mighty franchise. Orioles - fall back to earth after last year's surprise run.

AL West

Texas Rangers 93 wins

Los Angeles Angels 91 wins

Oakland A's 90 wins

Seattle Mariners 79 wins

Houston Astros 59 wins

Rangers - still loaded with two of the best hitting prospects on the way to the big league club, and a big year from Yu Darvish sends this team back to the World Series. Angels - the addition of Josh Hamilton gets the Angels back to the post season. A's - luck runs out for the miracle A's of last year, at least the fall isn’t as bad as for the Orioles. Mariners - building towards a nice future and they could have the ROY in catcher Mike Zunino. Astros - get a rude welcome to the American league and yet another top pick for the 2014 Draft.

NL Central

Cincinnati Reds 89 wins

St. Louis Cardinals 85 wins

Milwaukee Brewers 80 wins

Pittsburgh Pirates 80 wins

Chicago Cubs 73 wins

Reds - repeat as AL Central champions with Aroldis Chapman as a starting pitcher and a 2nd MVP for Joey Votto. Cardinals - a lot of young pitchers and a potential NL ROY in Oscar Taveras leaves the Cards just short of the post season, but the future is VERY bright in St. Louis. Brewers - addition of Kyle Lohse has ZERO impact on the fortunes of this team, plus, finally, a potential 50 game suspension for Ryan Braun* keeps this team in the 2nd division. Pirates - creeping ever closer to that first .500 season in 20 some years, next year puts them over the top if not all the way into the playoffs. Cubs - the long rebuild continues, and hopefully not a short term fix in the offseason in a deal to acquire David Price for a bevy of prospects.

NL East

Washington Nationals 95 wins

Atlanta Braves 89 wins

Philadelphia Phillies 80 wins

New York Mets 72 wins

Miami Marlins 62 wins

Nationals - continue to improve all the way to the World Series. Braves - another playoff team for the Braves and additions of the Upton brothers help pave the way. Phillies - treading water until the bottom falls out soon after years of pillaging the farm system and giving big contracts to old players. Mets - long, long way to go until this team is relevant again. Marlins - easily the worst team in the NL and the 4 fans that show up for games this year won’t care.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers 93 wins

San Francisco Giants 88 wins

Arizona Diamondbacks 86 wins

San Diego Padres 75 wins

Colorado Rockies 73 wins

Dodgers - all the spending gets them back into the playoffs, but much like the Yankees, injuries probably knock this team down a bit into a dog fight for the division. Giants - Defending World Series champions make another playoff run before a mini rebuild is in order. Diamondbacks - lots of talent in the minor leagues and a team that should contend in the division despite spending power comparability, for years to come. Padres - another strong farm system that is quite a long way away from seeing the post season again. Rockies - in a rut for a bit without any big time pitching on the staff.

These are true talent projections, not based on luck or record in one run games, or runs of 25 game stretches against the dregs of baseball that could change everything. If I were going to go out on a limb and predict post season awards I would have to say:

AL Cy Young - Chris Sale

AL MVP - Evan Longoria

AL ROY - Mike Zunino

AL MOY - Robin Ventura

NY Cy Young - Steven Strasburg

NL MVP - Joey Votto

NL ROY - Oscar Taveras

NL MOY - Don Mattingly

So, we'll see in about 6 months how off or on I have been. Hopefully it’s a great season.



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