Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News arrow-downArrow Down icon Arrow Up icon

5 bold predictions for White Sox in 2019

@scottmerkin
March 29, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- On the Friday after Opening Day 2018, I wrote a story examining five ways the White Sox could surprise last season. This article followed a 14-7 trouncing of the Royals where the White Sox launched six home runs. It had sound reasoning, I still believe, and seemed

KANSAS CITY -- On the Friday after Opening Day 2018, I wrote a story examining five ways the White Sox could surprise last season.

This article followed a 14-7 trouncing of the Royals where the White Sox launched six home runs. It had sound reasoning, I still believe, and seemed to get a decent bit of agreement from many of those who responded via social media.

The White Sox proceeded to rally for three in the eighth inning that ensuing Saturday to claim a 4-3 victory, make a winner of reliever Danny Farquhar and race to a 2-0 start on the same day Michigan basketball eliminated Loyola in the Final Four back when Michigan basketball still made three-pointers. But that’s where this uplifting tale ended, as the South Siders produced a 60-100 record the rest of the way.

I should have reminded myself this is a rebuild, and Year 2 had the potential to be the toughest as the young talent developed, as general manager Rick Hahn explained. But as my wonderful mother always says, if at first you don’t succeed, don’t be afraid to put yourself on the line for public disagreement yet again.

On this occasion, following a 5-3 Opening Day loss to the Royals where a valiant ninth-inning rally fell short for the White Sox, I’m switching the focus to a straightforward five bold predictions for 2019. Let’s get ready to rumble.

Jimenez wins American League Rookie of the Year
Eloy Jimenez
began his career with a 0-for-3 showing, two strikeouts and seven swinging strikes against sliders per Statcast. To this I say, so what. It was one game, and much like the other infrequent hiccups in his young career, Jimenez seems ready and prepared to get things right.

Ron Kittle (1983), Ozzie Guillen ('85) and Jose Abreu (2014) are the only three White Sox winners of this award in the past 40 years. Jimenez has the high-level ability and perfect mindset to handle the ups and downs of baseball, so make room for another name on that plaque with all due apologies to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Abreu agrees to extension
One idea I’ve seen floating around social media is if the White Sox wanted Abreu past their last year of contractual control this season, they would have signed him already. Not true. The White Sox are still in a talent evaluation phase during Year 3 of the rebuild and despite his many virtues, might be trying to figure out how and if Abreu fits going forward. It’s a decision probably not coming until after the 2019 season.

Abreu wants to finish his career with the White Sox, making that comment to me yet again Monday, and the White Sox need his presence in the lineup and in the clubhouse. It would seem almost wrong to win without him. How about two years with two option years?

Anderson goes 20-40
Tim Anderson’s quest to become the first White Sox player to produce 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in the same season will come up four homers short. But watch Anderson’s stolen-base total jump in 2019. He needs 49 for 100 in his career.

Moncada will be an AL All-Star
Quite a stretch from 217 strikeouts and a .714 OPS in a disappointing 2018, but there’s a noticeable level of comfort emanating from Yoan Moncada’s move to third. He also proactively took steps to get better with the bat in the offseason: No pouting, no sulking over a rough first full season. The talent is there, and if it clicks, Moncada could be something special.

Madrigal to the Majors
Yes, the White Sox have done a great job of not rushing top prospects to the Majors. Yes, Nick Madrigal has not played above 98 at-bats for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. But his advanced skill set coming from Oregon State, along with his stellar defense at second, allows him to make the jump in August.

And here’s one bonus prediction.

The White Sox will win the AL Central
Sorry, that’s from my 2021 list of bold predictions still being finalized.

Hahn was right: The White Sox will be competitive
It’s too soon to call this team contenders. But with improvement across their young core, this group could make a 14 to 16 win jump from 2018.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.