We open the outfield previews with the young goofball set to hit all the dingers, Eloy Jimenez. Hi Mom!

Eloy kicked off a trend of signing in the Spring so as to avoid being a victim of service time manipulation ensure a place in the starting lineup and Left Field to open the 2019 campaign. Eloy started slow, had trouble with the curve/anything breaking and seemed to be trying to hit 10-run homers the whole first month+ before injuring himself in the field (which would become his unfortunate recurring theme). Then around June something clicked and in the second half he become the baseball mashing monster we all hoped, while improving his on-base skills in the process.

Jimenez is primed for a true breakout in 2020, ready to build on his incredible final month of 2019 (1.093 OPS/184 wRC+). The Big Baby spent the offseason determined to improve his very sub-par defense and emphatically squash talk of moving to DH any time soon (“No, fuck that”).

2019 Stats


6.0 BB% 26.6 K%

31 HR 79 RBI 69 R

.343 wOBA 114 wRC+ 1.9 WAR

-11 DRS

Last Week On Nitro: 2019 saw Jimenez open his MLB account and it was most definitely not the greatest of debuts, much to the chagrin of Sox fans. Eloy piled up ugly strikeouts and ugly routes in the outfield, telegraphing the pressure he felt as the rebuilds golden boy. Jimenez took his sweet time adjusting to Big League breaking balls, which were the bane of his existence for a good two months. These are the type of things you expect from rookie hitters, even the best of them, but the expectations were unfair and it clearly weighed on the young slugger. The good news is he was able to make adjustments and improve and excel as the season went on. He settled in, going on a tear through June after returning from his first IL stint in May to the tune of 11 HR/25 RBI in 36 games. July saw another rough stretch (and second IL trip), which coincided with the club as a whole hitting the proverbial wall, before the Big Baby compiled a strong final 50+ games to see his 2nd half numbers reach 35/15/41/.292/.328 with a 128 wRC+/.870 OPS. The overall numbers above in just 122 games make for a very encouraging overall debut, especially factoring the abysmal start.

The real sore spot for Eloy’s rookie season, literally and figuratively, was his play in LF. Sox Machine’s Jim Margalus chronicled Jimenez’s season of OF gaffes in a twitter thread and it does not disappoint in all the worst ways. To his credit, Jimenez headed to Winter Ball in the Dominican with the sole purpose of working to improve his defense and stay in the field as long as he can. The Organization seems to think he’s making progress, given that they gave a three-year extension to the aging Jose Abreu, signed Yasmani Grandal and Edwin Encarnacion and still employ plenty of other DH-adjacent bats like Zack Collins. Eloy is clearly averse to the idea and he’ll get the opportunity to prove his worth for the foreseeable future. He really doesn’t have anywhere to go but up from that -11 DRS metric, one that likely cost him a top three AL ROY finish.

TOO SWEET! (WHOOP WHOOP):  Eloy flies out of the gates in March, continuing his Sept/Oct 2019 assault on American League pitching, producing something like a .365 OBP/900+ OPS and swatting over 50 HR. The work in the field shows enough improvement to keep his DRS around -3-ish or better, helping him into the conversation for AL MVP on a White Sox team that threatens to crash the October party. He starts to pull the ball in the air more to LF, he keeps the K% closer to 20-22 and improves the BB% to 8-10 and the rest of the lineup benefits because of it. I party nearly every night.

Say Eloy improves his stat line to .310/.345/.540 and that’s still a marked improvement and a force. Combine this with what would be the baseline for the likes of Abreu, Grandal, Encarnacion, Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson and you have a very, very dangerous lineup. Eloy could hit anywhere from the 3 hole to 7th, but ideally Ricky will spot him up somewhere and leave him so as not to mess with any improvements we’ve seen. This Spring he’s seen most of his time in the 5th spot, so we can assume that’s where he slots most of the year although you never really know with Ricky Renteria and his lineup blender.

There is some real speculation as to whether Jimenez will improve enough in the OF to get that DRS down so much, but he has put in the time and was much better later in the season (after he surely got a talking to for running himself into an elbow injury in July after karate kicking a wall earlier in they year). That and the addition of him making it a priority last Winter at least gives hope for a solid positive regression.

YOU FUCKED UP! YOU FUCKED UP!: The big numbers seen over the final two months were a mirage. Eloy slowly starts his season, forgetting the pitch recognition he picked up as 2019 wore on and yet again finds himself on the IL early because of a misplay in the field. He languishes through a sophomore slump, hits a paltry .240/.285/.460 and turns in an empty 25-30 HR along the way. He continues playing LF like the ungraceful elk he is while attempting to call off his CF often, who is now Luis Robert – a guy that will definitely hurt more running into that Charlie Tilson. I cry every night.

This scenario sees the fanbase and media start to question the long extension Jimenez inked in March 2019 and ponders if it’s really that great of business to dole out that kind of coin to players with no MLB ABs to their name (it still is). I do think that anything less than a slight improvement over Eloy’s final line from last season will be packaged as a disappointment from the media/fans and could hurt his mental development. This is a very tight knit core, though, one that has signed basically the entire lineup save RF for at least the next three seasons and has reinforcements in Andrew Vaughn (1B) and Nick Madrigal (2B) very close to being here for at least another six with everyone but Abreu and Grandal. Any adversity Jimenez or his teammates find will see the rest rally around them and that has to count for something.

BAH GAWD THAT’S JIMENEZ’S MUSIC!: I’m going to predict Eloy at .302/.341/.560 with 44 HR and a league leading 118 RBI. The lineup around him is vastly improved and so is his plate discipline, which leads to the breakout he’s capable of. He plays a slightly improved LF, enough so to stay out of Robert’s way and keep himself off the IL multiple times.

He could see time in a few different lineup spots, but it won’t be to his detriment as he finds cover no matter where he hits. Encarnacion dubs him his large adult son as Eloy edges him for the team lead in HRs. We all party.



Everything Else

You may be sitting there thinking, “Wait, how can it be time for more soccer? Didn’t the World Cup end like seven minutes ago?” And you’d be right! But the world of footy never stops (especially if you’re one of those weirdos who watches MLS), and this weekend sees the new Premier League season kick off! And anyone you know who watches soccer watches the EPL, so it’s the only one worth previewing (because only Madrid or Barcelona will win in Spain, Juventus in Italy, Munich in Germany, so it’s the only league with at least some drama. Or not, as you’ll see). Let’s rip through it!

Arsenal: So the first two years I’ve done this, I’ve written the same thing about the Gunners because it’s what always happened. Either everyone would get hurt in August, they’d slog around for the half the season, close furiously to finish nowhere good and then everyone would be excited about the next season. Or they’d start out hot, everyone would get hurt in February, and they’d fall apart like a frozen terminator. Well now they’ve let Arsene Wenger toddle off to wherever people like him go (I assume the most boring town in France), hired Unai Emery who’s famous for guiding PSG to some of the biggest full-body dry heaves in the Champions League in history with the world’s most expensive roster. But hey, he won a couple of NITs with Sevilla so you never know? Arsenal have a tantalizing front line with Lacazette and Aubameyang, and Mesut Ozil is probably going to have a big “FUCK ALL Y’ALL” season after whatever that World Cup was for Germany and for him. But they still don’t have much of a midfield behind him, or defense. It seems like 5th is their limit. Oh, and they’ve just been taken over by shithead-with-a-mustache (redundant) Stan Kroenke, so their future might look a lot like a port-a-john on Day 3 of a festival.

Bournemouth: This is at least the third straight year we’re all wondering how Eddie Howe is still managing at this club. Everton should have thrown everything at him, and maybe he’ll take the poisoned chalice that is Newcastle when Rafa Benitez resists murdering owner Mike Ashley and just leaves. Bournemouth will play more attractive football than any of the bottom 10 clubs have a right to, and they might finish 10th. That’s about as good as they can hope. And maybe Howe decides this is as far as he can take them.

Brighton: A miracle they survived, despite not being able to throw a grape into the ocean as far as attack went. They’ve bought an Iranian international, Allreza Jahanbakhsh, to help with that and I definitely didn’t have to check how to spell that five times. He scored 21 goals in Holland last year. You’ll recall Jozy Altidore did that once too, and he doesn’t know how his legs work. They’ll fight hard, be tough to beat, and be in a relegation battle by Thanksgiving.

Burnley: There is always a club that flies too close to the sun. That has every chance of being Burnley. They’ll add European football to this squad, which isn’t very deep. And while Sean Dyche does a great Sam Allardyce impression in that no one is quicker to point out his record despite what his squad costs versus his opponent’s, his teams play boring-ass football that only lasts for so long and will get found out on the European stage. It’ll also tire out and distract his players, so it wouldn’t be a huge shock if they find themselves in a relegation battle that Dyche probably long ago thought he’d never see again.

Cardiff: Their manager Neil Warnock would fit right in in the NHL. He’s an old, drunk blowhard who has not time for new ideas unless they flatter him. His teams are built on graft and effort and are torture to watch or follow. But he gets clubs up from the Championship, and then watches them become overmatched in the Premier League because his only tactic is “GO GET ‘EM, BOYS!” Well, that and blaming refs and foreign managers. Also their owner is one of the bigger raging assholes in the league, which is saying something, and changed their colors from blue to red even though they’re known as “The Bluebirds.” Remember that one guy from Bloodsport who tried to bribe everyone and loved Van Damme and always wore the nice suit? He grew up and became this guy.

Chelsea: You’d think a team with one of the richest people in the world as owner would figure out a way to hire a new manager a little sooner than three weeks before a new season, but you’d be wrong! Chelsea haggled with Napoli over Maurizio Sarri for so long that’s how it worked, because Napoli know how much money they have. So they’ve only been able to buy Jorginho to pair with Kante in the middle, instead of Danny Drinkwater which was high comedy for all of us out here in the fields. And a new keeper because Courtois has finally fucked off to Madrid, and this one’s even more expensive than the one Liverpool got. They’re still going to watch Alvaro Morata’s kleenex-like confidence disappear by October and there won’t be anyone around to score except for the 10 dumbass goals Olivier Giroud manages every year (they’re always in the last five minutes and they’re always off his shoulder). Eden Hazard will be checking out the real estate listings in Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris all season, and if anyone in defense gets hurt they’ll have to play David Luiz in a back four (remember how that worked out in Belo Horizonte in ’14) or the feet-less Gary Cahill. And Willian doesn’t want to be here anymore either. Seems like they’ll be drinking buddies for Arsenal.

Crystal Palace: They have one player in Wilfried Zaha, and their manager is three days older than water and not much more clued in than said water. They haven’t bought anyone, so unless Zaha goes “God mode” again, they could be in for a fight. Their best midfielder in Yohan Cabaye thought it was better to play in the UAE. That’s always a good sign.

Everton: This is where I’m supposed to point and laugh. They hired the manager, Marco Silva, they wanted to hire last year but then they had to settle for Sam Allardyce, a time for the club that will be looked upon as fondly as a roadside prostate exam. Richarlison will suck as soon as it gets cold again, and Lucas Digne is fine. But yesterday they added two from Barcelona and might have gotten Kurt Zouma on loan. Still, they don’t have a striker worth a shit anywhere and they’ll have to false-nine their way into goals. They’re destined to finish 7th or 8th from here until the end of the world.

Fulham: Probably your new favorite team. They got promoted playing probably the most exciting style in the Championship, led by left back/left winger/I’ll-go-where-the-fuck-I-please Ryan Sessegnon, who has a chance to be the next big thing. They’ve added Seri and Schurrle, which sounds like a hell of a law firm, and Mitrovic is simply the most bonkers striker out there, liable to score, get sent off, or just stand still and scream for 90 minutes equally. Whatever they do, you’ll enjoy it.

Huddersfield: Did you know David Wagner and Jurgen Klopp are buddies? If you didn’t the broadcasters will be happy to tell you eight times. They miracled their ass to safety last season, haven’t added anyone, and are going to try and grunt and fart their way to it again. Probably not going to happen.

Part 2 this afternoon…


Everything Else

We keep moving along through the river, well to be more apt this underground garbage fire of a preview that is slowly encroaching on nuclear waste, to the forwards of the St. Louis Blues. And once you get past the first line, it gets pretty automaton, but you probably already knew that. It’s a raft of palookas and hired goons that are meant to make a bunch of sounds flashed on the screen from the Batman TV series (live-action, Pure West, not the cartoon, which I haven’t seen but am told isn’t bad). You know the plan, you know the players, it’s just a question of if the Hawks can execute the plays.

Alex Steen-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko

I’ve spent so long thinking that Alex Steen is just a guy that’s taken about two years for me to pivot and finally admit that he’s a plus forward. Is he really a first liner? No, probably not. But he’s struck up an understanding with Tarasenko that’s become pretty deadly and really Steen doesn’t do anything wrong. He’s always in the right spot making the right play, he just doesn’t do it with any flash so you have to really pay attention to him.

Everything Else

This is where it might get to be tough reading for everyone. It is rare that you would find yourself saying, “Boy, I’m not sure the Hawks want to get into a track meet with these guys.” Generally games against Colorado have fallen into that category. Dallas is sort of edging that way. And generally that’s about it.

But Tampa would almost certainly be on top of that list. While the Preds tried to go plaid and wear the Hawks out that way, the Lightning will try and do some of the same things Nashville did. Except they’ll try it with a consistent 40-goal scorer who once pierced 60, two Calder finalists from last year who are Conn Smythe contenders this year, and a some pretty clever centers. Yeah, little worrying.

But much like the defense, there’s an upper echelon here and then a Looney Tunes cliff-like drop. Let’s get into the nitty gritty.

Everything Else

None of what comes in this post is going to be much of a surprise to you. After reading us breaking down the entire Ducks team, you probably know where we think this is headed. But thanks to the NHL and their infinitely genius scheduling, we’ve still got time to kill. So let’s look into the crystal ball.

(Although I guess I understand the series didn’t start tonight, as with Kanye playing the Honda Center tomorrow it probably takes all of today to stuff his aura into the arena).

Everything Else

Time to clean up our preview of the Hawks’ Western Conference Final opponent the Anaheim Ducks.

Special Teams

Now this is where things could go a bit sideways for the Hawks, and clearly the biggest flashing red light. Just like the Hawks did last round, the Hawks will face the team heading into it with the playoffs’ hottest power play, as the Ducks are clicking at 31% in two rounds. Both Winnipeg and Calgary had middling kills during the season, but it’s not like the Hawks’ can claim much else from about March on.

Everything Else

Time to clean up our preview of the Hawks’ Western Conference Final opponent the Anaheim Ducks.

Special Teams

Now this is where things could go a bit sideways for the Hawks, and clearly the biggest flashing red light. Just like the Hawks did last round, the Hawks will face the team heading into it with the playoffs’ hottest power play, as the Ducks are clicking at 31% in two rounds. Both Winnipeg and Calgary had middling kills during the season, but it’s not like the Hawks’ can claim much else from about March on.

Everything Else

Finishing off the other half of our preview of the Green Men from St. Paul, today we move to the forwards. There is a step up in class from Nashville for the Hawks in this one. While the Preds were certainly not bereft of talent and depth among their forwards, the Wild have a higher top end with theirs and probably more depth as well. Whereas the Preds didn’t really have a 4th line, the Wild most certainly do and it’s one that has driven the Hawks nuts for a few years now. While the Wild’s D cannot play at the same pace that the Preds’ defense could, their forwards probably aren’t going to find a pace they can’t handle.

The other change in gear for the Hawks is that the Wild are far better and deeper down the middle than the Predators were. That makes for a problem, but not one the Hawks can’t handle.

So let’s get to it.