BettorIQ’s MLB Betting Preview: Chicago White Sox
BettorIQ continues with its 2020 MLB betting previews. Over the course of the next few months, we will be breaking down all 30 teams from a betting perspective.
Chicago White Sox
2019 Record: 72-89
2019 Profits: +10.5 units
2020 Win Total: 84 (based on 162-game season)
2020 Odds to Win AL Central: +340
2020 Odds to Win AL Pennant: +1900
2020 Odds to Win World Series: +4850
Betting Positives: The White Sox will enter the new season with high expectations as the combination of youth and key veterans has oddsmakers calling for significant improvements. Chicago offers highly regarded young position players in Luis Robert, Eloy Jiminez, and Yoan Moncada. That trio will be joined by an upgrade at catcher with Yasmani Grandal and an experienced veteran bat in Edwin Encarnacion. Between Moncada, Jiminez and Jose Abreu, the White Sox have three of the top 33 qualified batters in average exit velocity in 2019. Robert, considered the crown jewel of the White Sox rebuild, ended the season on a strong note. From July 28 on, he hit 14 homers and slashed .292/.325/.544 over 55 games. The White Sox also added veterans arms in Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez and Steve Cishek. And Chicago’s patience with Lucas Giolito appears to have paid off. After struggling in 2018, Giolito pitched at an ace-like level last year (3.43 FIP, 5.1 WAR).
Betting Negatives: Last year’s offense led MLB in BABIP at .329 — the highest non-Colorado Rockies mark since Boston matched it in 2013. Despite their fortunate ways (66-win projected mark in 3rd order win percentage), the White Sox still performed at a below average level at the plate (24th in runs scored). And thanks to the second-highest ground ball rate in MLB Chicago hit only 90 home runs at Guaranteed Rate Field yet surrendered 141. That ratio needs to be far closer to even if they plan on contending in 2020. In a season that has been dubbed “win now”, development will still be needed for the youth of the roster. Prospects such as Michael Kopech, Nick Madrigal and Dane Dunning need reps and without a full season, their growth could be stunted. Lastly, dealing with a shortened season could also prove troublesome for weaker bullpens and the White Sox offer one that finished last season ranked 24th in K% and 27th in BB%.
Handicapper’s Take: A season that potentially will be crammed into a short time-frame does not bode well for a team like Chicago that is both young and without a reliable bullpen. There’s a lot of talent but the market appears very confident it will all pan out given the projected +11.5 win improvement of their 162-game season win total. Last year’s squad managed to bank +10.5 units despite playing .444 baseball. Bettors should ideally take a wait-and-see-approach and pay close attention to how oddsmakers choose to price this team. Chicago was underdogs in nearly 73% of their games in 2019 which is a far cry from the rate most teams projected to finish above .500 see. In the end, I feel like an abbreviated season lends itself more towards the White Sox being a year away.