Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Angels 3 – White Sox 9

Game 2: Angels 3 – White Sox 2

Game 3: Angels 9 – White Sox 3

 

 

Not great.

For what seems like the millionth time this season, the Sox came out swinging in the first game in the series and pummeled their opponent then decided that was enough and put the bats away for the next two. What makes it even worse is the fact that Dallas Keuchel actually had his first quality start since what seems like the beginning of the pandemic and the Sox wasted it away because they couldn’t figure out a pitcher named Junk. Seriously.

The lineups that LaRussa has been throwing out there each series are understandable when you have half of your starters who at some point or another have been on the IL this year for an extended period, but at some point they’re gonna have to be out there every day to build some rhythm heading into the postseaon. There are some issues here that don’t bode well for an extended playoff run, and if they don’t get addressed they may very well be playing golf far sooner than they should be.

Also Joe Maddon is a fucking putz, get the fuck outta here with your “wahhh wahhh they hit Shohei” after the Sox were plunked like 12 times in the series. Mike Wright can’t find the current zip code that he’s in, much less a strike zone. Get fucked.

 

 

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

GAME 1

-Ladies and gentlemen, The Gavin Sheets Game. 3 for 4 with a dinger, a double and 4 RBI on the night, Sheets was impervious to everything the Angels pitching staff threw at him. Where Sheets lands in the field going forward is open to interpretation, but he’s earned his place on the roster going forward.

-Lucas Giolito wasn’t exactly dominant in his first return from the IL, giving up two HR and walking two in 4 innings, but he did strike out 8 so that’s pretty excellent. The final line could’ve been a little worse, but Eloy of all people robbed David Fletcher (of all people) of a dinger in the 3rd inning. Eloy was OK after ponging off the LF wall, but sweet Jesus I wish he’d stop doing that.

-Luis Robert fucking murderized a ball in the bottom of the 2nd, and he’s now slashing .376/.409/1.033 in the last 30 games. As of right now he’s not being spoken of in the same category as other game changers like Mike Trout and Ronald Acuña Jr, but it’s only a matter of time.

-Jose Abreu didn’t have any hits on the night but he took 3 walks, which I think is even better. Abreu working counts to get into a position where pitchers have to throw him fastballs is only going to result in him adding to his RBI total.

-Mike Wright Jr pitched an inning and walked 3 people. He got out of the inning unscathed somehow, but I don’t know why they keep running him out there. No mas.

-Sox pitchers kept Shohei Ohtani off the board and actually K’ed him 3 times on the night. He’s struggled since the all star break, but the potential for damage there is always lurking.

GAME 2

-Dallas Keuchel made it through 6 innings! Granted he walked 5 dudes, but let’s just take the 6 innings and 2 earned runs at face value and hope it’s a performance that he can build off of.

-Anytime Caesar Hernandez wants to justify his continued playing time on this team that would be fine with me.

-Yoan Moncada smoked a homer off of some junk from Junk. That’s the tweet.

-Michael Kopech deserved a better fate today, but that’s what happens when you strand a jillion people on base.

-Steve Cishek striking out the side in the 8th shows you the current state of the White Sox offense.

 

GAME 3

 

Time is running out for this team to start looking like they’re going to be dangerous in the playoffs. When the Sox are on their game, there’s not a team in the AL who can run with them, but it’s been awhile since we’ve seen that type of urgency. If they wait until October to try and turn it on, it’s far too late. The next two series against the Rangers and Tigers should be at LEAST 4 wins out of 6 bare minimum. That’s the bar. Get it done.

Let’s Go Sox

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: White Sox 3 – Pirates 6

Game 2: White Sox 4 – Pirates 3

 

If there were ever a series that perfectly encapsulated the occasional drudge that is the middle of the season in Major League Baseball this one was it. The White Sox offense has had a “Not Interested” sign in the window for a little over a week now, and it showed. With only Yasmani Grandal willing to work a few counts into his favor, the Pirates pitching staff (Team ERA 4.75, 7th worst in baseball) consistently put Sox hitters behind in the count where they were immediately in defense mode, generating weak contact.

The Sox offense is clearly pressing right now, and with runs at a premium the onus is going to be on the pitching staff more than ever before in the season. With a few exceptions, they answered the bell in this two game stretch, definitely giving the team a chance to win both games. They’re gonna be needed until the hitters get back to where they need to be, or reinforcements arrive via trade.

To the bullets!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

Game 1

-Adam Frazier had himself a nice audition for Rick Hahn in game one, going 1-3 with a dinger off a hung changeup from Lucas Giolito in the 3rd inning. He also made a few slick plays in the field. I understand his career wRC+ is 105 (which is still good) and he’s outperforming that by +21, but the eye-test is very strong here. He may turn into a pumpkin, but odds are better with him keeping this up than, say, Eduardo Escobar. Get it done, Rick.

-Yasmani Grandal was the lone bright spot for the White Sox offense today, pinch hitting for Zack Collins in the top of the 2nd, and jumping all over a meatball of a sinker from Tyler Anderson. The shot gave the Sox a 3-2 lead, which they would hold for approximately 4 minutes because…

-It was Garret Crochet’s turn to implode in a high leverage relief role. His fastball was about 6 mph slower than his average of 98.8, and had less than zero movement on it. 92 mph fastballs up in the zone have a tendency to be hit a lot, and that’s what happened here. The 4 runs he gave up were on a whopping 10 pitches total, as the Pirates jumped all over his shit. I don’t really understand his usage this season, or what the Sox ultimate plan for him is going forward.

-On the plus side, we had a Yermin sighting in this game as he singled in the 7th pinch hitting for Lucas Giolito. Baby steps for the Yerminator.

-The White Sox now lead all of baseball in errors, so they’ve got that going for them.

Game 2

-Dylan Cease was not his sharpest today, but he was able to scatter the 7 hits and 1 walk he gave up over 6 innings so I suppose you could consider this a bounce back performance from the beatdown the Astros gave him over the weekend.

-LaRussa turned once again to Ryan Burr to help get Cease out of a jam in the 6th, which he did by getting Michael Perez to line out to Jake Lamb in left. He’s now thrown 8.2 innings without giving up a run, which is something few in the Sox bullpen can say. The underlying metrics aren’t great, but given the inconsistency around him, TLR may as well ride the hot hand.

-Codi Heuer can’t get anyone out right now, and shouldn’t be trusted with anything more than mop up duty at this point.

-Aaron Bummer and Liam Hendriks both looked deadly today, pitching 2.2 innings total without allowing a baserunner. Bummer came in for Heuer in the 7th when he gave up 3 straight hits and cleaned up the mess. More please.

-Yasmani added 2 more RBIs to his total with a 2-run double laced into left-center field in the top of the 5th. With the Sox offense scuffling right now, it’s the perfect time for him to heat up.

-TA looked a little more himself in this game, going 2-5 with an RBI and a run scored. Happy Birthday indeed.

 

Next up is a 4 game stint back at The Down Arrow vs. the Seattle Mariners. This brings another potential audition for a trade candidate as Hahn will get to watch Mitch Haniger all over the M’s outfield. While the M’s aren’t really in the playoff picture just yet, they’ve gone 8-2 in their last 10 games and are over .500 for the first time since the first week of the season. Their pitching outside of Yusei Kikuchi isn’t anything to write home about, but they can definitely hit the ball up and down the order. I’d be happy with 2 of 3, and that should be considered the bare minimum to pull outta this dive.

 

Let’s Go Sox.

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Twins 3 – White Sox 9

Game 2: Twins 8 – White Sox 13

Game 3: Twins 2 – White Sox 4

 

What a wonderful start to the season series against the evil that is the Minnesota Twins. On top of that, the Sox have now swept back to back division opponents and won 8 of their last 10 games in all. Despite that run, Cleveland has gone 9-1 in that same span and is still hanging around one game behind the Sox at the top of the AL Central list. On the flip side is the Twins now sit at the bottom of Shit Mountain, 10 games behind the Sox tied with the lowly Tigers.

The Sox starting pitching has been carrying the load the last few weeks as the offense begins to heat up, so it was nice to see the bats pick up the pitching when Cease and Keuchel had a bit of a stumble in the first two games of the series. The 25 runs the Sox put up boosted their run differential up to +66, good for 1st in the entire American League, with the next closest team being Houston at +45. The numbers look even more impressive when you realize that the Sox are second to last in home runs. So all these runs they’re banging out are being done against the league trend of the Three True Outcomes™ style of offense. Whether this is an adjustment to the deadened balls being trotted out, or a move to a different style of hitting with Luis Robert and Eloy on the shelf I don’t know, but it kicks all kinds of ass.

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

-Pitchers of the central beware, Jose Abreu is heating up. He had a killer series, going 5-11 with 5 RBI and his first triple in 2 years. He also added a dinger on Wednesday night, making that 3 in his last 6 games. You love to see it.

-We finally had the Billy Hamilton Game on Wednesday, as he went 4-4 with his first extra base hit when he legged out a triple and nearly caught Andrew Vaughn who went 1st to home and looked like I do after playing 30 minutes of tennis. While I don’t expect to see this again, any offense Hamilton generates is a complete bonus and should be treated as such. Good for him, as he’s a pretty easy guy to like.

-Lance Lynn only went 5 innings Thursday and had to go get his hand x-rayed after a comebacker smacked into it. The x-rays were negative and he shouldn’t miss a turn in the rotation.

-Yermin is only batting .386 now, so I think we can all agree he’s a bust.

-Grandal had a very Grandal series, walking 3 times and going 2-7 with a mammoth 3 run shot in game 1. His OPS now stands at .717 with a batting average of .130 which is fucking wild.

-Ole Googly Eyed Andrew Vaughn smoked his career first home run in game 2. He’s now slashing .263/.380/.775 which is MORE than acceptable for a rookie in his first go round in the league. Especially one who thought he was probably going to be DH’ing most of the time, not filling in for Eloy in LF.

-Dylan Cease and Dallas Keuchel labored through their respective starts, though I will say that the Twins are one of the more patient teams in the league, and they forced the two of them in the zone more often than not. Keuchel in particular (outside of his start against the Reds) has looked very hittable at times. Something to keep an eye on.

-Next up is another 4 games against the tailspinning Royals, who have now lost 11 in a row after getting broomed by the Tigers this week. Kopech will be taking another turn tonight in the second game of the double header. 7 is better than 6 boys, keep it up!

Baseball

VS.

 

Records: Rangers 8-9 / White Sox 9-9

First Pitch: Fri 7:10 / Sat 6:10 / Sun 1:10

TV & Radio: NBCSN & ESPN 1000

We Need Another New Stadium: Lone Star Ball

 

Probable Starters

Friday: Dane Dunning (1-0 0.60 ERA) vs. Dylan Cease (0-0 3.86 ERA)

Saturday: Kyle Gibson (2-0 2.53 ERA) vs. Lucas Giolito (1-1 5.79 ERA)

Sunday: Kohei Arihara (2-1 2.21 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (1-0 5.68 ERA)

 

OLD FREIND ALERT

Take the above probable starters above with a grain of salt, because as of me writing this Tony LaRussa has not yet tipped his hand as to how he’s planning on setting his rotation this weekend. Having the rainout on Wednesday giving his guys an extra day of much needed rest, he’s pretty much able to start whoever he’d like short of Carlos Rodon tonight. If he sticks to the order that he’s had thus far in the season, tonight’s matchup may cause Sox Twitter to implode like no other.

The return to the Down Arrow of our Bespectacled Buddy Dane Dunning facing off against Dylan Cease in a battle of Who Should Hahn Really Have Traded For Lance Lynn (who’s fucking hurt now anyways) will be polarizing to say the least. Dunning has gotten off to an outstanding start, giving up a measly 1 earned run in 15 innings pitched, to go along with 15 strikeouts and a crisp 1.06 WHIP. His counterpart has pretty much picked up where he left off last season, giving up 6 runs in the same amount of innings thrown but with a much uglier 1.71 WHIP. Cease has continued his inability to go deep into games, throwing far too many pitches and not putting hitters away when he has count leverage.

Dunning on the other hand has been pretty masterful thus far for a surprisingly competent Rangers squad. His huge arsenal of pitches he throws helps him keep hitters off kilter, never knowing what the next pitch is going to be. He’s able to keep the ball on the ground (which in his new home park is an absolute must) and work quickly in the vein of Mark Buehrle. The Rangers have come out and said that Dunning is on an innings limit this season, so the deepest he’s gone into a game so far is the 6th (which is still further than Cease, who is NOT on any such restriction).

The rest of the Rangers rotation has been above average thus far, which is somewhat of a surprise because on paper it’s probably one of the worst in the AL. Twins castoff Kyle Gibson has rebounded from the rough stretch in 2019-20 where he gave up dingers like they were going out of style. His 5.21 ERA in 2020 was one of the worst in the AL, and it’s obviously not what the Rangers were hoping for when they signed him to a 3 year deal worth roughly 10 million per. This season he’s gotten back to what made him successful in 2018 by throwing his 4 seamer much more (roughly 56% of the time, up from around 48%) and he’s added a cutter that he uses to run in on the hands of lefties.

Kohei Arihara takes the bump on Sunday, and so far he’s been a pleasant surprise for the Rangers. Signed from the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (god I love Japanese team names) just after Christmas this past December, Arihara is a Swiss Army Knife of a pitcher. According to Statcast, he threw SEVEN different types of pitches against the Angels in his last start. He tossed a 4 seamer, a slider, a curve, a cutter, a change, a splitter, and for the first time all year he threw a knuckleball. There’s also a pitch that he’s thrown more than once that Statcast has been unable to identify. So tack on some kind of UFO pitch to his arsenal. Arihara was the NPB equivalent of the Cy Young winner in 2019, going 15-6 with a 2.48 ERA. He signed a 2 year deal with the Rangers this off-season and so far has made it seem like a solid investment.

Offensively the Rangers are pretty short handed, 3rd from the bottom in total production league-wide. After the imposing figure of Joey Gallo, there’s pretty much just Nate Lowe (who was blocked at every position in Tampa, so they flipped him for some other prospects they’ll turn into gold) and Nick Solak who leads the team with a .279 average. The group as a whole doesn’t do anything special, and is pretty much waiting for the sample size to catch up to them. That doesn’t mean they can’t jump on an unprepared pitching staff, as the Angels just found out this past week. This is a boom or bust offense, as in their 8 wins, they’ve averaged a total of 6.2 runs per. In the 9 losses they average a mere 2.7 runs per game, and that includes one to the Royals where they scored 10. If an opposing team can keep them off the board they’re gonna have some success.

As for the Sox, after grinding out a win against Cleveland on Tuesday and enjoying another snow-out on Wednesday they finally managed to sweep a team and end a series on a positive note. The offense definitely showed signs of life after banging out 11 hits and 8 runs against the Spawn Of Dan Plesac. That’s twice now this season the Sox bats have run his ass off the mound, hoping its the start of a trend.

Jose Abreu had 3 hits in that game, two of which left the yard and one of which has yet to land. He absolutely murdered an inside fastball from Plesac in his 2nd at bat of the game that had an exit velocity of 116 MPH and sounded like it cracked the sound barrier. Jose has historically been a slow starter in his career, so his signs of life recently may be the beginning of better things.

Along those same lines is Yasmani Grandal, who also cranked out his second dinger so far. After having a down year at the dish last season, the ability for Grandal to use video this year was supposed to turn things around for him. Based on how well he turned around on the high fastball from Cal Quantril on Tuesday, it may just be working.

As mentioned above, if the Rangers don’t score more than 5 they don’t win the game. It’s going to be up to the starters to keep them off the board, and for the bullpen to live up to the moniker of “best in the Central.” It’ll be interesting to see how Lucas Giolito fares after the wet fart of a start against Boston this past Monday where he gave up 6 runs in the first inning and 7 total. Historically, Lucas has responded to a shitty start by going out the next one and throwing smoke. In starts after he’s given up 5+ runs the outing before he’s averaged 3 or less runs every single time. That’s damn impressive. If he’s able to repeat that stat here, given the Rangers tendencies thus far this season that should be a win for the Sox.

With a 9 game homestand starting tonight and the weather expected to breach the upper 70s next week this is a good setup for the Sox to go on an extended run. Throw in the fact that after the Rangers the Tigers wander into town followed by a Cleveland team the Sox have been much more competitive with this season and you have all the ingredients for a successful stretch of baseball. Tim Anderson and Luis Robert are both hitting above .300 now, and with Grandal and Abreu looking more dialed in now is the time to blow up the standings in the AL Central. Get it done

Let’s Go Sox

 

Baseball

Though he is technically listed here the Sox #4 starter in their 2020 rotation, the reality is the front office (and us as blog writers and fans) see Dylan Cease as at least the #3 starter of this team going forward. If that’s going to happen, however, there are a few things that need to happen both with his delivery and the results associated with them. While there were a few bright spots and moments of dominance for Dylan Cease in 2019, there were also times when his command disappeared for long stretches, leaving his fastball very hittable.

If Cease is to take over the 3 spot in the rotation, the year to state his case (hopefully) is this one. He’s been working in the off-season with Lucas Giolito to hone the control of his fastball (which worked wonders for Giolito this past year), and now has a new weapon behind the plate in Yasmani Grandal which should snag him a few more strikes each start. Honestly the more I write about the pitching staff, my level of happiness with the Grandal signing goes up. Will it be enough to break Dylan Cease out this year? Let’s take a peek.

 

2019 Stats

14 starts  73 innings

4-7 Record

5.79 ERA  5.19 FIP

9.99 K/9   4.32 BB/9  1.55 WHIP

45.7% GB-rate  68.1 LOB%  21.4% HR/FB

128 ERA-  0.7 fWAR

 

Last Week On Nitro: Man, those are some unsightly numbers, aren’t they? Looking at those, you’d think that 2019 was a total bust for Dylan Cease and that all hope was lost, right? WELL FUCK THAT SHIT. Granted, 2019 was definitely not the season that Cease was hoping for when he was called up to start on the 3rd of July. Sox fans hoping for some early fireworks were sort of let down. He went 5 innings, giving up 3 earned runs while striking out 6 and got the win so all good! Except he also walked 4 guys and hit two of them. The start was also against the Tigers, which is basically the baseball version of the Red Wings.

His next 4 starts were all losses, with him never giving up less than 4 runs and him only making it out of the 6th inning once. He got back in the win column again almost a month later (against the Tigers) but was still having issues with his control. Then came the start against the Rangers on August 23rd, and we all got a taste of why Dylan Cease was so highly regarded as he was. The first inning was more of the same, 32 pitches and a 3 run bomb by Willie Calhoun off a fastball that just spun at the top of the zone instead of slicing out of it.

Sox fans had seen this show plenty up till this point, but Cease flipped the script. Those 3 runs were all he was giving, and suddenly the fastballs were unhittable and the curveballs were dropping out of the bottom of the zone. The Rangers had no answers for him, and the Sox bats came alive and reminded Lance Lynn that he was, in fact, Lance fucking Lynn by dropping 7 on his head. Cease struck out 9 and only walked 1 in 5 dazzling innings after the first clunker.

One inning per start seems to be the one that prevented Cease from achieving a solid rookie year in the bigs. One inning where his command abandoned him, and his fastball failed him and his curveball hung there, waiting to be pummeled. The rest of the year was consistently inconsistent. Cease followed up his gem against the Rangers by getting tuned up by the Twins for 8 runs. Then he went 7 against the Tribe while striking out 11. The last 3 starts of the year were positive steps, as he only gave up 1 in each of them, leading us to wonder which Dylan Cease will show up this year?

Too Sweet! (WHOOP WHOOP): Best case scenario for Dylan Cease is he becomes Lucas Giolito Redux and breaks out this year in a ginormous way. If he’s able to control his fastball at the top of the zone, there aren’t too many hitters outside of Aaron Judge and Mike Trout who have the bat speed and eyes to catch up to it. Combine that with his spike curveball which, according to Statcast, has the 5th nastiest movement in all of MLB. Seriously, just look at this big bowl of filth.

Throw all those things together and you get a recipe for a big ole Breakout Pie. In what will (in theory) be a shortened season there is hope that Cease can K around 100 hitters and keep his ERA a respectable 3.70. He also won’t have any innings limits, so Renteria can feel free to let him off the chain. More importantly, he learns to avoid the Big Inning and is able to go deeper into games, averaging around 6+ innings per start. That’s a hell of a number 2-3 starter for a team with contention aspirations.

You Fucked Up! You Fucked Up!: Worse case scenario here is he actually stays the same as 2019. The Big Inning continues to plague him, he can’t get out of the 5th inning and each start proves that instead of a number 2 starter, his ceiling is actually that of a number 5. Without that bullet in the chamber, the Sox are forced to rely on Carlos Rodon coming back healthy to round out the rotation.

Instead of having a glut of starters and potential trade pieces down the road the Sox are left with merely 5 starters, two of which are coming back off of major elbow surgery. I don’t believe this is going to happen, as the Cease we saw against the Rangers and the Indians is far closer to the one we will get than the guy who got the tar pounded outta him by the Twins. You can’t discount the possibility, though.

Bah Gawd, That’s Dylan’s Music!: I think once Dylan Cease is able to take the mound this season we will all see an improvement over his inconsistencies of last year. The Big Inning will not totally disappear but the 2nd half of his season will be a little closer to what we see. There will still be burps and hiccups where he’s not able to get out of the 4th inning, but he’ll be going deeper and deeper into games the more he pitches. A 4.15 ERA with (more importantly) a 1.21 WHIP is not out of the question, with an increase in his K/9 to 10.55 and a decrease in his BB/9 (which at 4.5 last year wouldn’t take much to be considered an improvement) down to 3.30.

He’s going to be helped quite a bit by Yasmani Grandal, but hindered as well by the defense behind him. The other thing to remember is this is a kid who has all of half a season under his belt, so inconsistencies aren’t surprising in the slightest. All told, this second step in his career as a starter will be considered a success, with his status as number 3 starter of the future cemented. A 40+ home run left fielder and a number 3 starter with upside, all for Jose Quintana. Rick Hahn gets a gold star for this one, as the future continues to be bright for the Sox. Now if we could just have some baseball to look forward to…

 

Baseball

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

.267/.315/.513

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.

https://streamable.com/j63tw

 

 

Baseball

Moving along the diamond we come to the deepest position for the Sox infield, 1st base. It also contains the most tenured and respected player on the team, Jose Abreu. Nestled into the middle of the Sox “Sold B+” off-season was a 3 year extension for Jose. While the contract itself was a source of consternation for the Sox Faithful during the winter months, ultimately it’s now up to Jose to prove he deserved that paper and try to build off a season which was both successful (Led the AL in RBIs!) and not (highest K rate and lowest BB of his career). Let’s see what we can see, shall we?

 

2019 Stats

.284/.330/.503

33 HR 123 RBI

5.2 BB% 21.9 K%

.344 wOBA 117 wRC+ .833 OPS

Outs Above Average: -3

2019 Player Review

 

Last Week on Nitro: 2019 was somewhat of a mixed bag for Jose Abreu, as mentioned above. His power numbers were some of the best that he’s had since he broke into the league in 2014. The 33 home runs is his second highest mark, and the 123 RBIs blew away his previous high of 107. These are all (obviously) very good things, and what you’d expect out of someone of Jose’s size and position on the diamond. What wasn’t so great was the leap in his K rate and the precipitous dip in his BB rate. Jose was always known for his above average eye at the plate, and yet last season showed him chasing more down and away off-speed stuff. His OBP, while higher than 2018, was still a good .020 lower than his usual sterling .350 mark. The rest of his stats, including his hard hit and line drive rates were in line with his career norms. His BABIP was where you’d expect it to be as well.

Jose was also his usual stalwart self, hardly missing any time due to injury which has been a hallmark of his every season except 2018 (which we shall forget ever happened). So what to make of it all? Is this the new Abreu, primed for power and not worried that right field even exists? Or is it an outlier of sorts, and he will return to his “spray to all fields with pop” ways in 2020?

 

TOO SWEET (WHOOP WHOOP): While Jose is progressing in age, it’s by no means a death knell for his production. One only needs to look North to Nelson Cruz or even right here on the Sox with Edwin Encarnacion (who I’ll talk about tomorrow) to show that given the right scenario, those guys can not only be productive but key pieces of a baseball team that has deigns on more than just a winning record. Shit, by the time the season gets under way Abreu will be 6 years younger than Cruz, which seems to punch holes in the theory that the regression monster is destined to consume him.

The best case scenario for Jose this summer is the continued development of Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez. If the three of them are able to provide Jose some cover in the lineup, I could see him coming close to the power numbers he put up last year. Having Edwin Encarnacion  and Yasmani Grandal in the lineup could allow Abreu to hit comfortably in the #5 or 6 spot in the lineup, keeping his RBI opportunities plentiful but no longer forcing him to be THE MAN. If everything swings his way this year, I could see Jose having the kind of season that makes folks forget about the Sox overpaying him back in December. Turning back the clock to 2013 with a .290/.345/.500 kind of line with 120 RBIs is well within reach with proper placement in the lineup by Ricky and Jose’s continued good health.

On the other side of the ball, if Tim Anderson lived up to his promise and his D improves this winter, it will go a long way for Jose’s defensive numbers. Jose not having to chase shitty throws to the dugout or scoop shit outta the dirt like cat litter would be a nice change of pace for him. He’s never going to be Albert Pujols in his prime at 1B, but he’s not a sinkhole over there either. Add in the fact that Encarnacion, Grandal and even James McCann will be able to spell him at 1B will only help in the long run keeping Jose viable.

 

YOU FUCKED UP! YOU FUCKED UP!: The flip side of the mega-positive coin is instead of having 2019 Nelson Cruz as a comp, you end up with 2019 Miguel Cabrera. While Miggy was still a decently productive player in 2019 (.282/.346/.398), he was a slightly below average league player (-0.3 WAR), which for a guy with a contract that has a $31 million dollar AAV is nightmare fuel for fans of a team with an owner like Jerry Reinsdorf.

Miggy had a terrible time staying healthy over the past few years, and really his contract is the only thing keeping him on the field at this point. I’ve always been a big fan of Cabrera and his shenanigans on the field, but for a team like the White Sox who are poised to take the jump to the next level having this happen to Jose would be bad news.

The other thing that would be absolutely brutal for some of the Sox off-season moves is the ball suddenly goes back to not being made out of plutonium and all the dingers are now warning track fly outs. In the past this wouldn’t be the end of the world for Jose, but last season he decided to turn and burn way more than in seasons past, and a dead ball would have his numbers crash faster than that guy trying to prove the earth is flat by flying his own rockets.

 

BAH GAWD THAT’S ABREU’S MUSIC: Here’s my prediction for Jose for this season: it’s gonna be pretty much the same as last season. What we’ve seen out of Abreu lately is the new norm for him, as pulling the ball for power is a lot more fun than trying to split the right and center fielders. Running sucks, and people who do it for fun are insane. Why leg out a double when you can put one in the bullpen and jog around the bases? His final line will look something similar to this: .269/.325/.489, with 30 dingers and 110 RBI for a total of 2.0 WAR and a wRC+ of 115. Which is perfectly acceptable for him on this team.

Jose will most likely start the season hitting out of the 3 or 4 hole (Because Ricky Renteria), but with all the danger the Sox present in their lineup going forward Ricky will see the value of hitting Jose out of the 5 spot where he can comfortably knock in runs all year without the pressure of hitting higher in the lineup. He’ll have to spend some time at DH to get Grandal and Encarnacion reps at first (which he hates) but he’s the ultimate team player, and it’ll work for him.

The most important thing for Jose is he’s gonna have a shitload of fun this season, right along with the rest of us. Even if the Sox end up with 85 wins and miss the postseason by 6 games it’s going to mark a change in that dugout. The wave hasn’t made it to the shore yet, but it’s on the horizon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baseball

The first roster-fringe player we cover on our 2020 Sox Preview series is Zack Collins. While there is not a guarantee that Collins will make the Opening Day roster, he probably should get a good long look before the Sox decide to burn another option and send him down to AAA for however long, as he has very little left to prove in the minors. In a world without James McCann, Collins would be the obvious backup catcher, but as long as McCann is here Collins’ roster spot is in a bit of doubt. But we will touch on that. Let’s dig in

2019 MLB Stats

27 GP, .186/.307/.349, 3 HR, 12 RBI

-0.3 fWAR, -0.2 bWAR, -0.3 WARP

13.7 BB%, 38.8 K%

.285 wOBA, 77 wRC+ .656 OPS

-4 DRS, -3.1 FRAA

Last Week on Nitro: Collins spent most of 2019 in AAA, where his numbers were infinitely better than that drivel above us. I listed his MLB stats because, as I said in the open, he has almost nothing left to prove in the minors and should be an MLB player moving forward. But don’t let those rough stats from limited action as a rookie scare you off – Collins’ slash line in 88 AAA games was a much more encouraging .282/.403/.548 with 19 HR and 74 RBI, good for a .401 wOBA and 140 wRC+. Among the most encouraging aspects of Collins’ numbers at all levels of the minors and even his short MLB spell is the walk-rate and OBP, as that 13.7% he posted in the bigs last year counts as the lowest that number has been for him at any level of the minors. Collins simply does not chase bad pitching, forcing pitchers to come into the zone where he is a legitimate threat to take them deep on every pitch.

Another reason you can quite easily disregard any concern that could come from looking at those 2019 MLB stats is the way Rick Renteria used Collins when he was first called up. Despite the fact that the Sox had no one on the MLB roster who could serve as a reliable DH, Ricky kept Collins out of the everyday lineup and only had him playing sporadically every 3-to-5 days, and two of his first eight appearances (including his freakin’ MLB debut) came as nothing more than a pinch hitter. Going from an everyday impact bat in the minors to bench piece is a tough situation to be in when you’re also trying to adjust to MLB pitching. Obviously that was still when McCann was one of the Sox best hitters, but it was still poorly handled, in my opinion.

There are a few concerns about Collins’ future in the bigs, but I don’t think his 2019 should lose you any sleep.

TOO SWEET (WHOOP WHOOP): The best case scenario for Collins in 2020 is that some catcher elsewhere in MLB gets hurt and the Sox are able to trade McCann to fill that void, opening up the roster spot for Collins to walk into. There is a legitimate case to be made that Collins is a better fit for the 2020 Sox’ roster than McCann, anyway. With the presence of Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion, and Yasmani Grandal, all of whom hit lefties extremely well and should never sit when the Sox are facing a lefty, McCann is kinda crowded out of the only lineup where it makes sense to play him consistently. On the flip side, Collins absolutely raked righties throughout his MiLB career and in a perfect world might even feature in a lineup vs RHP over Abreu, although now we are just dreaming.

Regardless of McCann’s presence on the roster, Collins needs to spend significant time at the MLB level in 2020, and the ideal outcome would be that he gets platooned almost exclusively into those lineups vs RHP. That would eliminate a huge weakness from Collins’ game immediately. The walk rate is far from a concern, though you definitely want to see the K-rate come crashing down. He’s never struck out at a rate lower than 24.4% in the minors, but being below 30% is all I ask. Getting him into those RHP lineups on a semi-consistent basis and bringing the K-rate down should allow him to bump that OBP up closer to .350, and if he starts putting the bat on the ball more he is going to hit very hard and very far, so the slugging percentage will be nice as well. No, I don’t give a shit about his batting average.

Lastly, an ideal 2020 sees Collins’ work with his good buddy Grandal behind the plate take him from a downright liability at the backstop to a reliable backup option. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

YOU FUCKED UP! YOU FUCKED UP!: The nightmare outcome for Collins’ 2020 season is that it ends up looking an awful lot like his 2019 did. You don’t need a hell of a lot out of a backup catcher, but when you draft a guy in the first round of the MLB draft because his best position is hitter, you need to see that hitter come through. I don’t think he will ever stop walking, but if he can’t at least make more contact he will never really get to take advantage of all his power, and he will probably need to have at least a .210 average to really let his OBP be any semblance of productive. If 2020 looks like 2019 and he stays below the Mendoza line, the walking will only be worth so much.

I don’t actually think his fielding will get worse, but if he doesn’t improve behind the plate there could be some major problems.

BAH GAWD THAT’S COLLINS’ MUSIC: I think that at some point in the season, McCann will no longer be the primary backup catcher for the White Sox and Collins will take over that mantle, either via McCann getting traded or the Sox just doing the prudent thing from a organizational future standpoint, prioritizing the young controllable player instead of the pending free agent. Collins could also end up being the backup 1B and DH, giving Ricky three different ways to work him into lineups at various times throughout the year and get him more consistent at bats.

In terms of results, I would expect Collins line to wind up more in he realm of a .220/.350/.450 kinda player, as I really believe that even getting above .200 on the average will turn Collins into a damn near elite OBP guy. I still think he will strike out too much – more than the ideal 30% mark I said in best case – and that will prevent him from getting to all of his power, but he should hit 15-20 dingers if he appears in 60+ games. Unless his defense vastly improves, it will bring his WAR metrics down, but I think he can still be worth 1.0 to 1.5 wins in a semi-regular backup role in 2020.

Previous Player Previews

Yasmani Grandal

James McCann

Baseball

James McCann finds himself in a new world of a different kind in 2020: Backup Catcher, staring at the high likelihood of not reaching 100 games played for the first time in his career since his short debut at the end of 2014. McCann’s 2019 was a pleasant surprise, a torrid start helping to see him to setting career highs with 118 GP, 120 hits, 62 R, 26 2B, 18 HR, 60 RBI, 30 BB, .273/.328/.460/.789 batting line en route to an All-Star nod and a place in Sox fan’s hearts. What did he get for his breakout? a one year, $5.4M deal and a seat on the bench behind new starting backstop/pitch framer extraordinaire Yasmani Grandal. I feel like James isn’t gonna like the dip in GP heading into certain free agency this winter…

2019 Stats

.273/.328/.460, 18 HR, 60 RBI

2.3 fWAR, 3.8 bWAR, 1.0 WARP

6.3 BB%, 28.8 K%

.333 wOBA, 109 wRC+ .789 OPS

5 DRS, -10.2 FRAA, 11th-percentile framing

Last Week On Nitro: James found himself non-tendered by his previous employers in Detroit in the winter of 2018. He’d just come out of the worst season of his short career (57 wRC+) and the the Tigers decided the continued rebuild could do with any other backstop, allowing the 2nd-year arbitration eligible McCann to sign a one year, $2.5M contract with the rival White Sox. McCann sure did go about rubbing Detroit’s nose in it, scorching out of the gates on his way to an All-Star appearance and the aforementioned career marks all over the stat sheet. McCann’s intangibles were also deeply felt at the Arrow, with quick comfort and bonds with Lucas Giolito and others on the pitching staff helping to create some consistency and positive clubhouse culture from a position with a great deal of turnover for the Pale Hose. This all earned him another one year pact, avoiding his final arbitration chance for a cool $5.4M.

The bright lights would fade, though. McCann turned in a 133 wRC+ through the first 61 games and slowly reverted back towards his norm in the final 55 with a 83 wRC+ mark and stark regressions everywhere but in the power department (9 HR in each segment). Stark regression (sick fake band name) to his BB/K ratios and BABIP contributed to the swift end to the party and erased the thin veneer masking his near-league worst framing skills. Rick Hahn and Co., in somewhat of a shocker, decided not to bank on McCann finding a way back to his first half season glory and inked C Yasmani Grandal to the richest free agent contract in team history. Thanks for the good will and early season stat spikes, here’s about 40% of the playing time and double the pay for your troubles.

TOO SWEET (WHOOP WHOOP): The good news is we don’t have to try to project what a full McCann follow up might look like on account of having his playing time slashed to pieces. Shortly after the Grandal signing, there were many easily connectable dots to see a fun timeshare to be had between C-1B-DH among those on the roster in the form of McCann, Grandal, Jose Abreu and Zack Collins. McCann likely would have found his way to at least half a season’s worth of games, give or take, or more when you factor in that familiarity with the staff and team already in house. Then Christmas came and Edwin Encarnacion came with it, and any idea of a fun little timeshare with plenty of PT to go around went out the window.

You can safely expect McCann to be more of what he was in Sept/Oct 2019 throughout his reserve role in 2020, and a .250/.315/.460 and a BABIP closer to .300 is a very palatable line to get from your second catcher. Development and the signings of Grandal and EE make relying on McCann’s bat moot, something that even he should be feeling relaxed about, so he can focus on his real deficiencies. The area that McCann can really improve his worth is by becoming something more than literally the bottom of the league in pitch framing.

Those FRAA and 11th-percentile framing ranks are absolutely unacceptable for any team trying to win in the MLB and McCann seemed to realize, whether it was before the Grandal signing or the seconds after it was announced, that he needed to do all he could to improve in this area. He’s taken the steps this offseason to put the time in and work exclusively on his framing, and having a full spring training and season with Grandal will likely help the 31 year old backstop improve his abilities and his market value. Anything he can do to continue to help the development of the young starters and bullpen arms on the pitching staff will help McCann and the team.

YOU FUCKED UP! YOU FUCKED UP!: Keeping with the theme here, the Grandal and EE signings and overall development within the organization has shielded the team against having to deal with a “worst case scenario” involving James McCann. The Sox don’t need the McCann from the first 60 games last year, they don’t need him to sway nearly 20 homers and drive in gobs of runs and set career marks across his stat line. They also don’t need to worry about what to do in the event he craters to 2018 57 wRC+ levels because they actually went out and got ahead of that exact potential problem.

Is this really the White Sox we’re talking about?? The absolute worst case scenario is Grandal going down with a serious injury, McCann reverting to his non-tender campaign offense and failing to have any of the offseason framing work pay off. That would be a real fucking Rube Goldberg machine worth of catastrophes to get us anywhere close to that kind of scenario. No, this is a rare occasion where the Sox put themselves in position to deal with some sort of awful chain of events without having the bottom fall completely out.

McCann would pretty much have to pout to Chris Sale/Adam Eaton Drake LaRoche-era levels for us to hit a “worst case scenario” on his season. Progress!

BAH GAWD THAT’S McCANN’S MUSIC!: McCann got his island in the sun moments last summer, and he seems pretty damn pleased with it all. The guy has gotten a bunch of PT, albeit on some pretty atrocious teams, and gotten paid to do so, and he finally might be a part of something special. Would he like to keep playing 110 games/year? Sure. But I bet James McCann is pretty excited to be on a team with playoff aspirations for the first time in his entire career, too.

McCann hasn’t complained or shown any attitude with his change in role, at least not publicly. If he can pitch in a solid OBP and show improvement on his pitch framing he might find himself getting closer to 60+ games. Abreu and EE are going to need days off, Grandal can’t catch 140+. McCann still has plenty to prove for another contract and possibly a shot at a starting gig elsewhere in the future, but he’ll be needed this season with this team. Hopefully he can embrace that and succeed with the at bats and innings he’s given, and if not, well, it’s really just not that big of a deal.

Baseball

We kick off our 2020 White Sox world takeover season preview series with the most exciting and probably the most impactful free agent signing by the White Sox in any of our lifetimes, Yasmani Grandal. As the first major domino of this past offsesaon to fall by signing bright and early – before Thanksgiving, even – for a club record $73-million over 4 years, Grandal was the first of many signs this winter that the White Sox are serious about winning (or at least serious about looking like they’re serious about winning) in 2020 and also are being taken seriously by big name free agents. Let’s dig into what we can expect from him this year:

2019 Stats (w/ Brewers)

.246/.380/.468, 28 HR, 77 RBI

5.2 fWAR, 2.5 bWAR, 6.1 WARP

17.2 BB%, 22.0 K%

.361 wOBA, 121 wRC+ .848 OPS

1 DRS, 20.1 FRAA, 79th-percentile framing

Last Week on Nitro: Grandal fell prey to baseball’s greedy ass ownership slow offseason problem prior to 2019, with the primary issue being the qualifying offer that the Dodgers extended to him meaning any team that signed him would have to sacrifice a draft pick for his services. That is still one of the stupidest rules in sports, but it exists and is daunting enough to some teams that it truly does scare some suitors off. Despite reports of a multi-year offer coming from the Mets, Grandal viewed that offer as below his market value (and may not want have wanted to play for the Mets, which is wholly understandable) and decided to bet on himself with a 1-year deal worth $18.25-million in Milwaukee.

The bet paid off in spades, as Grandal proved to be one of the most valuable players in baseball according to any WAR metric worth a shit – clearly what I mean is that you should just outright ignore that bWAR number above, as baseball reference has a major problem with valuing defense in their WAR, especially for catchers. He isn’t the world’s best hitter, but he is easily one of the most disciplined in the game, and the walk rate and OBP scream out as evidence. Both were among career highs for him, but you can still expect them to be incredible, but we will more to that in a moment. Overall, Grandal’s 2019 season was another strong one with numbers that were largely consistent with his overall career, and that level of consistency is what should really have you excited.

TOO SWEET (WHOOP WHOOP): The issue with dreaming on Grandal’s offense is that he’s been so damn good and so damn consistent in his career, and is 31 years old, so it’s hard to imagine it getting much better at this point. The main weakness in Grandal’s numbers throughout his career has been his unimpressive batting average, which really only the giargidiniera-soaked masses will bitch about, but in an ideal world you’d see him raise that up from a .246 last year and .241 career to something a bit closer to .260 in 2020. A good place to start would be to work that K-rate down a bit, as even in today’s game and even with his walk numbers, a 22% there is something you’d like to see drop a bit. If he can bring the strikeouts down and the batting average up, that OBP could flirt with damn near .400, and that would be downright erotic.

The real area where Grandal will be a huge upgrade for the Sox, though, is behind the dish. As I detailed in my fully-tumescent write up after the signing, while James McCann had a fine season last year, he was the worst overall framer in the AL season, while Grandal was the best in the Majors according to some publications. So overnight, the Sox go from the worst zone manager in AL to the best. On top of that, he is a well documented elite game planner and has been around some of the best pitchers in the game. Where this is going to prove invaluable is with the likes of Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease, who have some well documented control issues. Helping them improve their approach, delivery, and then stealing strikes behind the dish should serve as a huge boon, and in a best case scenario takes Cease from a struggling rookie last year to approaching his ceiling very quickly.

On top of that, Lucas Giolito is looking to take another step forward and build off a dominant 2019, and Reynaldo Lopez needs to have a bounce back year like Giolito just had. And to add one more log to the fire, looking back at Dallas Keuchel‘s career working with good and bad framers, he is far and away better with good ones (big surprise there). With combination of high-ceiling guys and reliable rotation arms. Grandal receiving all of these guys and helping the Sox rotation improve could allow them to be one of the best in baseball, and that would result in a whole lot of wins.

YOU FUCKED UP! YOU FUCKED UP!: The worst case scenario for Grandal this year is that he goes the way of the Nick Swishers and Adam Dunns of the world, falling off a cliff completely after joining the White Sox. His walk rate falls below 10%, his strikeouts go way the hell up, and all of a sudden the guy can’t tell the strike zone from the seating section formerly known as the Chris Sale K-Zone. Meantime, his framing falls apart and as such the pitching staff sucks ass.

Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. Again, he’s been so consistent in his career it’s a bit difficult to go too far down the idea of either extreme happening, though it’s certainly possible. But given his career numbers, I think the biggest concern when it comes to 2020 being a potential disappointment from Grandal is injuries derailing him. *knocks on wood*

BAH GAWD THAT’S GRANDAL’S MUSIC: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Grandal’s consistency throughout his career has been so damn reliable that it’s hard to imagine this season being anything other than extremely similar to last year. I would expect a regression in the walk-rate and, as a result, the OBP, but his career tells both should stay around or above 13.5% and .350 respectively. Along with that he’s gonna hit more than 20 but less than 30 homers and a similar number of doubles. He’s even tossed in two triples in each of the last two years, though don’t bet your house on that.

Where I really want to focus my prediction is on the impact he will have with the pitchers. While I don’t necessarily think he will make the hugely sudden difference for Cease and Kopech to go from promising-but-inconsistent to downright dominant right away, I think we are gonna see big improvement from them, though Cease’s may be more recognizable given that he’s gonna be with the big club all year and Kopech won’t. Overall I think Grandal is going to help this rotation be one of the better units in the American League and maybe even the best in the Central. With his bat and defense, you can reasonably expect another season of Grandal being worth more than 4.5 fWAR, and I will happily take that.