On Tuesday, Baseball Prospectus issued its PECOTA standings, and the White Sox look about as good as expected.
Sure, you could argue that the low-80s wins is a dour take, but this projection meets the minimum standard for this stage in the rebuild: Crossing the 80-win plateau and vying for the postseason. (Next year, crossing 90 wins and contending for the division, is going to be the hardest jump of all.)
I’m no Good Will Hunting Matt Damon, but when looking at the percentages above, there appears to be ~12% chance of a wild card for the White Sox this season, which seems on the high side given likely competition: Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland A’s, Angels, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland, Boston Red Sox. Knock three of those teams out as division winners and one more as a wild card, that still leaves four formidable hurdles to jump. But it’s not an impossible move.
Elsewhere throughout baseball, some interesting projections shape up.
- The fight between the Yankees and Astros for top billing in the AL is fierce, while the Los Angeles Dodgers have an absolute cakewalk to home-field advantage.
- There is a crazy imbalance between leagues, with nine AL teams better than .500 and just six in the NL — with just one team of just 88 wins in the entire circuit.
- The NL East and Central battles shape up to be bloodbaths, with seven teams between both divisions projected to land from 79 to 88 wins.
- As much as the NL Central sucks, the NL West looks to be an utter embarrassment, with no team besides L.A. crossing 80 wins. The Dodgers are projected to win this year’s version of the 2019 AL Central by 24 games, which is 1983 White Sox territory.
- Because of the NL’s general weakness and the NL Central’s crappiness specifically, the crosstown clowns are projected to win two more games than the White Sox — putting the bumblers at a significant playoff advantage (one-third chance for the division, better than 50-50 for the playoffs overall).
- The Dodgers are the only projected 100-win team, while no club is ticketed for 100 losses — the closest appears to be the Baltimore Orioles, at 63-99.