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2020 MLB Team Preview: Chicago White Sox Predictions, Betting Odds, Picks

Timothy Finnegan provides his thoughts on what the 60-game MLB season could look like for the White Sox.

The Chicago White Sox finished 2019 with a 72-89 record, sitting third place in the American League Central and finishing a massive 28.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins. Chicago’s run differential was poor, being outscored by opponents by 124 runs, seventh worst among all MLB teams. However, armed with a ton of young talent and multiple significant veteran acquisitions, the White Sox have an extremely bright future and could push for playoff contention in 2020, especially with the season shortened to just 60 games.

The most notable roster related move for the White Sox heading into the restart is that Michael Kopech has opted out of the season. Kopech, one of the core pieces acquired from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade, has some of the best raw stuff among all young pitchers in baseball. He touched 101 mph as recently as this past spring training in March and possesses huge backspin on his fastball, which helps him pitch with explosive life up in the zone. His absence is a blow to Chicago’s rotation.

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DraftKings Sportsbook odds

— Division Winner: +285

— League Winner: +1500

— World Series: +2500

The betting odds have slightly shifted in favor of the White Sox since the league shut down due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Back in March, the White Sox’ World Series chances sat at +3500, and they have since been adjusted to +2500. A shorter 60-game MLB season with less certainty will likely give Chicago a better chance to make the playoffs and go on a run than a lengthy 162-game season would.

For a full list of available bets, head over to DraftKings Sportsbook or download the DK Sportsbook app.

Key Departures:

Ian Nova, SP

Key Acquisitions:

Yasmani Grandal, C; Edwin Encarnacion, DH/1B; Nomar Mazara, OF; Dallas Keuchel, SP; Gio Gonzalez, SP

Restricted List:

SP Michael Kopech (opted out of 2020 season)

2020 Fantasy MVP

Hitter: Eloy Jimenez, OF

Jimenez has an elite prospect background, sitting as a consensus top five overall prospect prior to the 2019 season. His rookie season was solid overall, producing 16 percent better than league average when adjusted for park and league. Jimenez also displayed encouraging progress as the season went along, boosting his production in the second half of the season. After the All-Star break, Jimenez hit .292 with 15 dingers in 253 plate appearances, contributing to a .250 isolated power and .542 slugging percentage, all excellent numbers. His park and league adjusted metrics rose to 28 percent better than average after the All-Star break, up from just five percent better than average in the first half of the season.

Jimenez’s production was also supported by strong contact quality. Jimenez’s expected slugging percentage of .564 based on the exit velocities and angles of his batted balls was even better than his actual slugging percentage, and his expected batting average of .290 was also excellent. Jimenez will play most of his games in a good park for hitting at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, which adds to his fantasy potential.

Pitcher: Lucas Giolito, SP

Giolito was once one of the top prospects in all of baseball, sitting as a consensus top five overall prospect prior to the 2016 season while in the Washington Nationals organization. Giolito struggled in Washington, notably seeing a decline in fastball velocity, and eventually got traded to Chicago as part of the Adam Eaton trade.

Giolito overhauled his mechanics prior to the 2019 season and saw a massive breakout. Giolito shortened his arm action and aimed to get his mechanics closer to where they were before he was drafted by the Nationals, and the adjustments paid huge dividends. Giolito’s average fastball velocity rose by roughly two MPH and he saw a huge surge in bat-missing, generating a swing and a miss on a gigantic 15% of his total pitches while striking out 32% of opposing batters, both of which ranked in the top six among all qualified SP. Giolito is the ace of this pitching staff until further notice and could be one of the most valuable DraftKings fantasy pitchers due to his ability to miss bats.

2020 Fantasy LVP

Tim Anderson, SS

Anderson has some alarming peripheral statistics from 2019 that may indicate incoming regression. Anderson’s .399 batting average on balls in play is generally considered an unsustainable number over the long term. Anderson’s contact quality was also not as strong as his outcomes, another potential signal for incoming regression. Anderson is also one of the least selective batters in MLB, chasing a massive 46% of pitches located outside of the strike zone, much higher than the league average of 31% and tied for the worst mark among all qualified batters. Anderson’s lack of plate discipline contributed to walking in just three percent of his plate appearances in 2019, second lowest among all qualified batters. Anderson can still have a productive fantasy season in 2020, especially with the season being shortened, but his peripheral statistics make him a risk to regress from 2019.

2020 Breakout Players

Dylan Cease, SP

Cease has explosive pure stuff, which had him ranked as a consensus top 40 overall prospect prior to the 2019 season. Cease’s outcomes were poor after making his MLB debut, posting an ugly 5.79 ERA in 14 starts, which was 28 percent worse than average when adjusted for park and league. However, some of Cease’s peripheral statistics were much more encouraging. Cease’s contact quality allowed to opposing batters was much closer to league average when taking into account exit velocity combined with batted ball angle, which could indicate some poor luck. Cease was also plus at generating strikeouts, striking out 25% of batters faced, better than the SP league average of 22%. Cease could provide value in fantasy drafts if other fantasy owners are scared off by his ugly 2019 ERA, and he has looked nasty in summer camp:

Luis Robert, OF

Robert enters 2020 as a consensus top six overall prospect. Robert has a strong combination of both power and speed, so he could contribute to both home runs and stolen bases. Baseball Prospectus ranked him sixth overall on their top prospect list and gushed about his athleticism, ultimately labeling him a 70 grade Overall Future Potential (OFP), which is a baseball scouting term for elite. Robert could immediately post strong home run and stolen base numbers as a rookie in 2020, which is especially valuable in DraftKings contests.

Final Thoughts

The White Sox have made big upgrades that could put them into 2020 contention, especially if their plethora of talented young players perform up to their ceilings. The addition of catcher Yasmani Grandal could significantly help the pitching staff, as Grandal is one of the best pitch framers in MLB and can help put pitchers into advantageous counts by stealing strikes. Grandal is also one of the best offensive catchers in the game, and his addition to the lineup, combined with adding Edwin Encarnacion, Luis Robert and Nomar Mazara, could make Chicago’s offense potent. The White Sox are also expected to call up top 2B prospect Nick Madrigal at some point in 2020, which could be another significant addition to the lineup.

A starting rotation of ace Lucas Giolito, combined with veteran left-handed pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez and young flamethrower Dylan Cease could also give the White Sox a plus starting rotation. DraftKings users can expect the White Sox to have a much improved 2020 season and could develop into one of the most fun teams to watch if their young players reach their future potential.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is timfinn521) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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