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PECOTA 2019: Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse

In this edition of Projecting the White Sox, PECOTA gets grim: The White Sox will be lucky to avoid 100 losses

Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins - Game Two
Cherry picking: Given the mostly horrible 2019 projections for every White Sox player, PECOTA is relatively kind to Lucas Giolito.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Brett Ballantini started at South Side Sox in 2018 after 20 years of writing on basketball, baseball and hockey, including time on the Blackhawks and White Sox beats. Follow him on Twitter @BrettBallantini and email your site feedback to

This “series” started last year, when whisoxman20051917 sent his wish list off to Santa, and I projected how well that best-case, “fantasy” team would fare right away, next season. The answer? 84 wins.

So, as spring training approaches with no new White Sox joining the fold, it might be time to sober up and envision what an offseason with no further additions will mean for the 2019 season.

When I ran the results using Steamer and Depth Charts 2019 projections per FanGraphs, the team as presently constituted yielded 70 wins. Not great, but still, an eight-win jump. Technically, barely, “the next step” in the rebuild.

Although PECOTA likewise predicts 70 wins for the White Sox in 2019, when I add up the position-by-position gristle, the win total falls short of even that bare minimum.

Never has Manny Machado been more needed.

A reminder, we start with the number of wins a replacement team would have, over the course of a full season: 48. In every projection below, Steamer/Depth Charts WAR is listed first, Baseball Prospectus WARP second.

Catchers: Welington Castillo (2.0 WAR/1.1 WARP) James McCann (0.6/-0.1), Seby Zavala (0.1/-0.1) and Zack Collins (0.1/-0.2). Both projection systems have Castillo playing just shy of 100 games, James McCann slots in with projections of 40ish games, with Zavala and Collins getting the injury and September scraps.

Steamer/Depth Charts running wins total 50.8
PECOTA running wins total 48.7
Average running wins total 49.8

First Base: Steamer/DC predicts an even split at first base between Yonder Alonso and José Abreu, PECOTA gives Abreu the most reps. Still, I’m gonna stick Alonso (0.9 WAR/0.6 WARP) here, as the better fielder and safer bet to avoid mysterious/weird injuries.

Steamer/Depth Charts RWT 51.7
Average RWT 50.5

Second Base: Yoan Moncada (2.2 WAR/1.5 WARP)

Steamer/Depth Charts RWT 53.9
Average RWT 52.4

Shortstop: Tim Anderson (1.3 WAR/0.9 WARP)

Steamer/Depth Charts RWT 55.2
Average RWT 53.5

I mean, Moncada’s Steamer/DC projection is fairly dour, and it’s the best of the middle infield projections between the two outfits. Anderson at 0.9 worst-case, 1.3 best? Oh no.

Third Base: Yolmer Sanchez (1.5 WAR/0.3 WARP) and José Rondón (0.3/0.0). (In the case of any subs listed, the WAR totals are for everywhere they’ll play this season; for instance, Rondón will sub as short and second as well, but with him getting his most reps at third, he’s added to the hot corner total.)

Steamer/Depth Charts RWT 57.0
Average RWT 54.5

Left Field: Will Eloy Jiménez (3.3 WAR/1.9 WARP) play in left or right, if the right field option ends up being Daniel Palka instead of, say, Bryce Harper? Let’s slot him in left, due to the “defensive improvements” he’ll need to make before he’s even called up in 2019.

Steamer/Depth Charts RWT 60.3
Average RWT 57.1

Center Field: Adam Engel (0.1 WAR/0.1 WARP) and Leury Garcia (0.2/0.6).

Steamer/Depth Charts RWT 60.6
Average RWT 57.6

Right Field: Daniel Palka (0.6 WAR/-0.6 WARP) leads a cast of thousands in right, joined by Jon Jay (0.1/0.9), Ryan Cordell (0.0/0.2), Nicky Delmonico (0.4/0.1) and Charlie Tilson (0.0/-0.1).

Steamer/Depth Charts RWT 61.5
Average RWT 58.3

Designated Hitter: Jose Abreu (2.4 WAR/3.1 WARP).

Given PECOTA’s pretty harsh assessments handed out to nearly every White Sox position player, Abreu’s number here is a surprise.

Steamer/Depth Charts RWT 63.9
Average RWT 61.1

Yep: The average projection, after every offensive player, doesn’t even get the White Sox under 100 losses.

Rotation: Reynaldo Lopez (0.9 WAR/0.1 WARP), Carlos Rodon (1.5/1.2), Iván Nova (0.8/0.8), Lucas Giolito (0.2/0.3) and Dylan Covey (0.6/0.1)/Manny Bañuelos (0.0/0.8).

Add in spot starts from Spencer Adams (0.0/-0.1), Kodi Medeiros (0.0/0.0), Dylan Cease (0.3/0.6) and Jordan Stephens (0.0/0.0).

Steamer/Depth Charts RWT 68.2
Average RWT 65.1

Bullpen: Alex Colome (0.5 WAR/0.8 WARP), Nate Jones (0.9/0.4), Jace Fry (0.5/0.9), Kelvin Herrera (0.4/0.3), Juan Minaya (0.1/0.3), Caleb Frare (-0.1/0.1), Ian Hamilton (0.1/0.1) and Aaron Bummer (0.1/0.2) are the core.

Add in a Charlotte taxiing group of Thyago Vieira, Carson Fulmer, Aaron Burr and José Ruiz, which collectively subtracts 0.5 WAR or adds 0.2 WARP.

Steamer/Depth Charts RWT 70.1
Average RWT 67.7

Now, in case you think these are truly stingy projections, well, individually they may be. But collectively, nuh-uh. A total of 18 position players and 22 pitchers are being added up into this projection, so it’s not a matter of accounting for just 130 starts, or 400 PAs at first base, or something. These are full-roster, full-season projections — if anything, with 40 players projected (even with some having just a few starts or games played) means these WAR totals are an overestimate.

I can’t figure out why PECOTA predicts a 70-92 record for the White Sox, when their own WARP puts them at 65.4 (yeah, I got ’em at 65.3, maybe Bañuelos hits a game-ending homer in an interleague game or something, maybe it’s a rounding error). But if we are to take BP’s standings word for it, both FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus agree: The White Sox are a 70-92 team, earning the No. 5 pick in the 2020 draft.

I hear the rebuild’s gonna end, one day ...