ChiSox-A's position-by-position breakdown

September 29th, 2020

The Athletics and White Sox finished one game apart in terms of record, but in this unpredictable 2020 season, that one game was the difference between being a No. 2 seed and a No. 7 seed.

As a reward for winning their first AL West title since 2013, the Athletics will host the White Sox -- who are in the postseason for the first time since 2008 -- in a best-of-three Wild Card Series at the Oakland Coliseum that begins today.

The winner of this series will earn a shot at the winner of Twins-Astros in a best-of-five AL Division Series. So how do Oakland and Chicago matchup? Let’s take a look.


James McCann should get the Game 1 start with Lucas Giolito on the mound, while Yasmani Grandal will likely take over catching duties for the rest of the series. The veteran tandem has a knack for getting on base and has plenty of experience to rely upon. Sean Murphy emerged as a strong presence for the Athl­­etics, showing off his plus defensive skills and patient approach at the plate.

Advantage: White Sox

First Base

José Abreu posted a remarkable season that could earn him his first AL Most Valuable Player Award, leading the league in hits (76), RBIs (60), slugging percentage (.617) and total bases (148). Like Abreu, Matt Olson played all 60 games for his team this season, but that’s where the comparisons stop. Olson had solid power production (14 home runs, 42 RBIs), but his .195/.310/.424 slash line shows the inconsistency of his season while his 75 strikeouts have to be a concern.

Advantage: White Sox

Second Base

Tommy La Stella delivers a quality at-bat every time at the plate, which is why Oakland acquired him in a trade this season to take over at second base. He isn’t nearly the defender that Nick Madrigal is, but La Stella brings plenty of postseason experience from his time with the Cubs, giving him a slight edge over his younger counterpart.

Advantage: Athletics


A year ago, a matchup of Tim Anderson vs. Marcus Semien would have been a tough call, though Semien -- an MVP candidate in 2019 -- would have gotten the edge. In 2020, it doesn’t feel close. Anderson followed up his 2019 batting title with another strong campaign, tying for the AL lead with 45 runs scored while finishing second in the batting race with a .322 average. Semien saw his OPS fall more than 200 points (.892 to .686) as his overall numbers plummeted.

Advantage: White Sox

Third Base

Yoán Moncada slipped a little during the shortened season, his offensive production falling in virtually every category. Oakland lost its best player when Matt Chapman suffered a season-ending hip injury in early-September, and while Jake Lamb has filled in admirably during the final two weeks of the season, this is a weak spot for the Athletics.

Advantage: White Sox

Left Field

Robbie Grossman is a solid player who carries a good approach to the plate and provides enough defensive skills to get the job done. But Eloy Jiménez is the superior hitter, capable of doing damage every time he picks up a bat. The one hitch here? Jiménez is dealing with a foot injury that could hamper him – or even keep him out of the lineup altogether. If his foot feels fine, this one isn’t close.

Advantage: White Sox

Center Field

Luis Robert and Ramón Laureano are both excellent defenders in center, though Robert rates a smidge higher in that category. The White Sox rookie also has more power and had a marginally better overall season, giving Robert a slight edge here.

Advantage: White Sox

Right Field

This is Adam Engel/Nomar Mazara vs. Stephen Piscotty. None of these three players were particularly impressive at the plate this season, but with the entire series taking place in the spacious Coliseum, defense is the key to this matchup. Engel -- who could start in left field if Jimenez is out -- is the best defender of the group, so Chicago gets a minor nod here.

Advantage: White Sox

Designated Hitter

Given how badly Edwin Encarnación has struggled, the White Sox are likely to use the tandem of Grandal and McCann at catcher and DH. Mark Canha could be Oakland’s key against Dallas Keuchel in Game 2, as he slashed .342/.500/.526 in 52 plate appearances against lefties this season.

Advantage: Athletics


Lucas Giolito had one of the season’s great highlights with his no-hitter, but Dallas Keuchel has been Chicago’s best starter, pitching to a 1.99 ERA in 11 starts. Rookie Dane Dunning could get the call in a Game 3, though the White Sox might opt for a bullpen game if the series goes the distance. Jesús Luzardo will get the ball in Game 1, followed by Chris Bassitt in Game 2. Sean Manaea (who has pitched very well down the stretch) or Mike Fiers would follow in a potential Game 3. Chicago posted the third-best rotation ERA in the AL this season (3.68), while Oakland ranked eighth (4.49).

Advantage: White Sox


If the Athletics have one advantage over the White Sox, it’s here. Alex Colomé, Aaron Bummer, Codi Heuer, Evan Marshall and rookie phenom Garrett Crochet are an imposing group, but Oakland’s relief corps -- which includes Liam Hendriks, Yusmeiro Petit, Jake Diekman and Joakim Soria -- is more experienced and versatile.

Advantage: Athletics