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White Sox 2020 Betting Preview: Can new-look Chicago win 32 games?

July 15, 2020 01:35 AM

When it comes to baseball, sports betting and controversy, the Chicago White Sox take the cake. Nearly 100 years ago, eight White Sox players were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money from gambling kingpin Arnold Rothstein. All eight players were banished from MLB, including Shoeless Joe Jackson. It became known as the "Black Sox Scandal" and led to the appointment of the first ever MLB commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis. If you've never seen the 1988 movie "Eight Men Out," make a point to watch it. It's well worth your time. 

The 1919 scandal cursed the White Sox. It took Chicago until 2005 to win their next World Series title. Since that time, it's been slim pickings on the South Side. Chicago has missed the playoffs for 11 consecutive seasons and hasn't had a winning season since 2012. Last season, the White Sox went 72-89, finishing 28.5 games back of the Twins in the AL Central and 23.5 games back in the Wild Card.

Desperate to reverse their fortunes and become competitive again, Chicago was one of the biggest spenders in free agency this offseason. The White Sox signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a 4-year, $73 million deal, southpaw Dallas Keuchel to a 3-year, $55.5 million deal and inked designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion to a 1-year, $12 million deal. Chicago also acquired outfielder Nomar Mazara from the Rangers. 

The ChiSox took care of their own as well, re-signing first baseman Jose Abreu to a 3-year, $50 million deal and locking up budding superstar third baseman Yoan Moncada to a 5-year, $70 million deal. Next, Chicago turned heads by locking up 22-year-old Cuban phenom Luis Robert to a 6-year, $50 million deal. Robert will be the team's starting center fielder and enters 2020 as the #2 prospect in MLB by Baseball America. Robert hit .328 with 32 homers and 92 RBIs in the minors last season. 

On paper, the White Sox have one of the deepest starting lineups in baseball, featuring a healthy mix of veteran power hitters and a handful of young, up and coming position players. 

Here is the projected starting nine

1. Tim Anderson SS

2. Yoan Moncada 3B

3. Jose Abreu 1B

4. Yasmani Grandal C

5. Edwin Encarnacion DH

6. Eloy Jimenez OF

7. Nomar Mazara OF

8. Luis Robert OF

9. Leury Garcia 2B

Chicago's starting rotation is led by 26-year-old ace Lucas Giolito. Acquired from the Nats in 2016 in the Adam Eaton trade, Giolito had a breakout season in 2019, going 14-9 with a 3.41 ERA and earning an All-Star nod. Keuchel (8-8. 3.75 ERA) is a respectable number two, but after that the rotation gets thin. Unfortunately, prize prospect Michael Kopech opted out of the 2020 season. 

1. Lucas Giolito

2. Dallas Keuchel

3. Reynaldo Lopez

4. Dylan Cease

5. Gio Gonzalez

The White Sox bullpen features closer Alex Colome (2.80 ERA, 30 saves) along with setup men Aaron Bummer, Steve Cishek and Kelvin Herrera.

At BetMGM, Chicago's win total is 31.5. This translates to 85.1 wins based on a 162-game schedule. At first glance, that seems like a big jump from winning 72 games in 2019, even with all the big offseason additions. The juice on the 31.5 win total is -110 on both sides. This signals relatively equal action on both sides of the win total. 

If you're looking for a lean, FanGraphs, one of the most respected sites for advanced baseball analytics, projects Chicago to go 30-30. This represents a 1.5-game edge to the under 31.5 win total. With the White Sox becoming a trendy public pick based on their active offseason, going under would seem to have some "sell high" contrarian value as well. 

The White Sox aren't expected to snap their postseason drought. Chicago is a -213 favorite to miss the playoffs this season and a + 175 dog to make the playoffs. This translates to a 68.1% implied probability that Chicago misses the postseason. 

The White Sox have the 3rd-best odds to win the AL Central at + 320. The Twins are the favorite at -159, followed by the Indians + 300. The Tigers and Royals are both + 8000 longshots. 

Chicago is + 1200 to win the American League, tied with the Indians and Athletics for the 5th-best odds overall. Only the Yankees (+ 170), Astros (+ 380), Twins (+ 800) and Rays (+ 1000) are higher. 

The White Sox are + 2500 to win the World Series. 

In terms of player props and futures, Moncada is + 4500 to win AL MVP. 

Anderson is + 900 to lead the AL in batting average, tied for the 4th-best odds overall. He is + 1000 to lead the AL in hits. 

Giolito is + 1800 to win the AL Cy Young. He is + 1000 to lead the AL in strikeouts, trailing only Gerrit Cole (+ 130), Justin Verlander (+ 400) and Shane Bieber (+ 700). 

Keuchel's over/under wins is 4.5 (over + 100, under -130). His over/under strikeouts is 53.5 (-115 both sides). 

Colome is + 800 to lead the AL in saves. 

Robert is the favorite to win AL Rookie of the Year at + 400. Nick Madrigal, another highly touted White Sox prospect, is + 4000. 

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