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Re-examining how the White Sox stack up in the AL Central

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After spring training, position rankings within the AL Central shift thanks to new faces

Mat Latos is projected to boost the White Sox starting rotation.
Mat Latos is projected to boost the White Sox starting rotation.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

More than two months ago, we took a look at how the White Sox stacked up in the AL Central at each position. The exercise confirmed what most of us already knew: The team's strengths were on the mound and at the infield corners. Since then, the White Sox added Mat Latos, Jimmy Rollins, and Austin Jackson to help boost their chances of reaching the postseason for the first time since 2008. Chicago wasn't the only team that added as the Cleveland Indians signed Juan Uribe and the Minnesota Twins won the Byung-ho Park sweepstakes.

When viewing these rankings in January, the expectations were that Adam LaRoche, Tyler Saladino, Avisail Garcia, and Erik Johnson would receive significant playing time while projected to be worth less than 1.0 fWAR. Luckily that is not the case after Rick Hahn signed the three veterans mentioned above and LaRoche retired. Adding those players to the mix and shifting others around (like Adam Eaton to left field), here is how the Sox stack up against their AL Central counterparts before Opening Day.

Catcher

Team

Players

WAR

Difference from Jan.

Cleveland Indians

Y. Gomes / R. Perez

3.2

+0.2

Kansas City Royals

S. Perez / T. Cruz

3.0

-0.2

Chicago White Sox

D. Navarro / A. Avila

2.3

-0.4

Detroit Tigers

J. McCann / J. Saltalamacchia

2.1

-0.2

Minnesota Twins

K. Suzuki / J. Murphy

1.8

-0.3

First Base

Team

Players

WAR

Difference from Jan.

Detroit Tigers

M. Cabrera/A. Romine

4.0

-0.2

Kansas City Royals

E. Hosmer / C. Cuthbert

2.5

0

Chicago White Sox

J. Abreu / T. Ishikawa

2.4

-0.4

Cleveland Indians

M. Napoli / C. Santana

2.2

+0.6

Minnesota Twins

J. Mauer / Byung-ho Park

1.9

+0.5

Second Base

Team

Players

WAR

Difference from Jan.

Cleveland Indians

J. Kipnis / J. Ramirez

3.1

+0.2

Detroit Tigers

I.Kinsler / M. Aviles

3.1

+0.3

Minnesota Twins

B. Dozier / E. Nunez

2.8

+0.3

Chicago White Sox

B. Lawrie / T.Saladino

1.7

+0.1

Kansas City Royals

O. Infante / C. Colon

0.5

0

Shortstop

Team

Players

WAR

Difference from Jan.

Cleveland Indians

F. Lindor / J. Ramirez

4.0

+0.8

Detroit Tigers

J. Iglesias / M. Aviles

2.0

+0.1

Minnesota Twins

E. Escobar / D. Santana

1.9

+0.3

Kansas City Royals

A. Escobar / C. Colon

1.7

+0.1

Chicago White Sox

J.Rollins / T. Saladino

1.5

+0.7

Third Base

Team

Players

WAR

Difference from Jan.

Chicago White Sox

T. Frazier / B. Lawrie

3.4

0

Kansas City Royals

M. Moustakas / C. Colon

3.0

-0.2

Cleveland Indians

J. Uribe  / J. Ramirez

2.6

+1.0

Minnesota Twins

T. Plouffe / E. Nunez

2.1

-0.3

Detroit Tigers

N. Castellanos / M. Aviles

1.1

-0.2

Left Field

Team

Players

WAR

Difference from Jan.

Kansas City Royals

A.Gordon / J. Dyson

3.6

-0.3

Detroit Tigers

J. Upton / C. Maybin

3.2

0

Cleveland Indians

M. Brantley/ R. Davis

2.6

+1.0

Minnesota Twins

E. Rosario / M. Sano

2.5

-1.0

Chicago White Sox

A.Eaton / M. Cabrera

1.5

+0.7

Centerfield

Team

Players

WAR

Difference from Jan.

Kansas City Royals

L. Cain / J. Dyson

4.1

+0.3

Minnesota Twins

B. Buxton / D. Santana

2.9

+1.1

Chicago White Sox

A.Jackson / A. Eaton

1.8

-0.2

Cleveland Indians

T.Naquin / R. Davis

1.7

+0.3

Detroit Tigers

A.Gose / C. Maybin

1.2

-0.3

Right Field

Team

Players

WAR

Difference in Jan.

Detroit Tigers

JD Martinez / T. Collins

3.3

+0.7

Minnesota Twins

M.Sano / O. Arcia

2.8

+1.6

Cleveland Indians

L. Chisenhall / M. Bryd

1.5

-0.4

Kansas City Royals

J. Dyson / P. Orlando

1.3

+0.3

Chicago White Sox

M. Cabrera/A. Garcia

0.7

+0.4

Starting Pitching

Team

Players

WAR

Difference from Jan.

Cleveland Indians

Kluber/Carrasco/Salazar/Anderson/Tomlin

17.1

+0.2

Chicago White Sox

Sale/Quintana/Rodon/Latos/Danks

16.2

+1.7

Minnesota Twins

Hughes/Santana/Gibson/Nolasco/Milone

11.0

+0.4

Detroit Tigers

Verlander/Zimmermann/Sanchez/Norris/Pelfrey

11.0

+1.1

Kansas City Royals

Kennedy/Ventura/Volquez/Medlen/Duffy

8.5

-1.1

Relief Pitching

Team

Players

WAR

Difference from Jan.

Chicago White Sox

Robertson/Jones/Duke/Putnam/Petricka

4.0

+0.4

Kansas City Royals

Davis/Soria/Herrera/Hochevar/Duffy

3.1

+0.4

Cleveland Indians

Allen/Shaw/McAllister/Manship/Bauer

3.0

-0.1

Minnesota Twins

Perkins/Jepsen/May/Fien/Tonkin

2.5

-0.2

Detroit Tigers

KRod / Lowe / Wilson/ Wilson/Rondon

1.6

-0.2

Designated Hitter

Team

Players

WAR

Difference from Jan.

Minnesota Twins

Byung-ho Park / M. Sano

1.9

+0.4

Detroit Tigers

V. Martinez / Cabrera

1.3

0

Cleveland Indians

C. Santana / M.Napoli

1.4

+0.1

Kansas City Royals

K.Morales / T. Snider

1.1

+0.4

Chicago White Sox

A.Garcia / J. Abreu

0.7

0

Observations

  • If Melky Cabrera is the Chicago White Sox fulcrum in 2016, then Cleveland's Michael Brantley is the AL Central's fulcrum. Thought not to be ready for game action til June, Brantley played in five games this spring and hit a home run. Even if not 100 percent healthy, Brantley in the lineup reduces the offensive workload that Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis, and Carlos Santana have to carry. Adding the veteran Uribe helps at third base, but the Indians are projected 2.8 wins higher than in January by only making one move. That leads to a healthy Brantley having very positive repercussions.
  • The Royals leaped the White Sox in first base rankings, as FanGraphs loved Adam LaRoche more than Travis Ishikawa.
  • They're still weakest in the division, but adding Rollins is enough of a preseason boost to instill hope that the Sox can receive the similar production at shortstop with everyone outside of Cleveland.
  • Thank you again, Los Angeles Dodgers, for Todd Frazier.
  • The biggest benefit of signing Austin Jackson is the boost Sox will receive moving Adam Eaton to a corner outfield position. Jackson's defense helps shorten the gap in value in center and Eaton's offense improves the forecast in left, with Melky Cabrera moving to right field.
  • The biggest change since January was the White Sox signing Latos. FanGraphs is projecting a 1.7 fWAR season for Latos, but after his spring training struggles, Hahn is reportedly in the market to find additional depth.