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3 Players To Watch Series

LOD’s 3 Players to Watch: Chicago White Sox

It’s official, the 2023 season is underway!  Here at Legends on Deck, we are continuing to work on evaluating organizations in these early days of April.  Perhaps the most confusing division to analyze in all of baseball is the American League Central.  Since the division’s infancy (1995), the Chicago White Sox have won the division title four times (2000, 2005, 2008 and 2021).

While it looked like the Sox were in a position to repeat in 2022, they’d experience a late season collapse that would allow a soaring Guardians team to capture the AL Central.  The Sox would finish 81-81.  As the Southsiders  look to rebound in 2023, they bring a very capable roster and strong starting rotation to a division that’s up for grabs.

Andrew Vaughn, 1B

The White Sox first round pick (3rd overall) of the 2019 Draft, has shown steady progress since his MLB debut in 2021.  In 2022, Vaughn produced 17 HR / 76 RBI / .271 BA / .750 OPS.  He got off to a strong start on Opening Day, smacking a two run double into the left-center gap, in the top of the 9th inning.   Those runs helped secure victory for Dylan Cease and the Sox, who defeated the Astros in a pitchers duel.  A breakout season for Vaughn would add some needed offense for the White Sox, who finished 22nd in home runs and 19th in RBIs in 2022.

Andrew Benintendi, OF

Best known for his years with the Red Sox (2016-2020), Benintendi brings a reliable, veteran presence to White Sox lineup.  He was runner-up AL Rookie of the Year in 2017, putting up 20 HR / 90 HR.  The Gold Glove (2021) winning outfielder is coming off an All-Star season where he hit .304.  The 28 year old signed a 5 year / $75 million deal with the Sox.  They’re hoping for some stable production out of him for years to come.

Dylan Cease, SP

The 27 year old right-hander is coming off a career season, having finished runner-up to Justin Verlander for the AL Cy Young.  Cease went 14-8 / 2.20 ERA / 1.109 WHIP / 227 strikeouts in 2022.  By many accounts, Cease is the favorite to win the AL Cy Young this year.  He also signed a one year deal to avoid arbitration.  This means he’s a free agent at the end of the season.  Cease is the #1 starter in a strong White Sox rotation, surely looking to improve his prospects on the free agent market.  The Sox might be wise to wrap him up before mid-season, especially if they’re in the hunt for the division crown.

Will the Sox Make a Run in 2023?

When you look at the American League, the most competitive division is likely the AL East.  Between the Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays and perhaps even the Orioles, it’s likely that one or two of the wild card teams will come from the East.  The aggressive off-season of the Rangers, the emerging Mariners team and the consistency of the Astros has the West looking strong as well.  This likely means a standoff between the White Sox, Guardians and Twins will continue into September.

The White Sox also benefit from stars like Tim Anderson and Lance Lynn who played for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.  And there’s outfielder Eloy Jimenez, who played for Team Dominican.  In other words, the White Sox have the tools to take the AL Central and maybe even make a postseason run.

Brian is the Managing Editor at Legends on Deck and Co-Host on Legends On Deck Podcast. He's been writing about baseball at LOD since 2017. He grew up in the Detroit area and is a lifelong Tigers fan. However, he shares some affinity for his son George's favorite team, the Atlanta Braves. Brian also has a particular interest in the amateur side of the game, including high school, college and collegiate summer league baseball. Brian and George also love collecting and selling baseball cards. You can find them selling on eBay (@Kossball) or posting on George's Instagram (@Kossball). Brian lives in Horizon West (Winter Garden), Florida with his wife (Grace), three daughters and George the Card Kid. You can also reach him at brianmkoss@gmail.com

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