White Sox vs. Tigers, 2018

Wave goodbye to the big and bad Detroit Tigers of 2011 to 2014. Adios to Justin Wilson, Alex Avila, J.D. Martinez, Justin Verlander, Justin Upton, and Ian Kinsler. The 2018 Tigers are more of the toothless and feeble variety.

Starting line up

Jose Abreu (.304 AVG, .354 OBP, 33 HR, 102 RBI) still has a lot of gas left in the tank, putting up numbers in 2017 that nearly match has breakout debut performance with the White Sox in 2014. Meanwhile (Ozzie Guillen’s favorite English word-listen to any old interview), future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera seems to finally be trending downward. His 2017 performance amounted to the worst season he’s had since his rookie year with the Marlins in 2003. It is probably safe to say the Tigers would look to move him as well, but he’s owed approximately 184 million dollars over the next six years. At 35 years old in April, his contract is a black hole that no other team would touch.

A young man named Dixon Machado, a 25 year old from Venezuela will be manning second base for the Tigers in 2018. He batted .259 with 1 home run and 11 runs batted in last year in 166 at bats. If everything goes according to plan, Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada will eclipse 1 home run and 11 runs batted in by April 9th.

28 year old Jose Iglesias is the kind of shortstop the White Sox are absolutely terrified to contemplate. Like Blair Witch Project + the first Halloween + the first Friday the 13th + It + Nightmare On Elm Street + all the Insidiouses scared. Why? He was going to be an All World shortstop, one of the best in either league offensively and defensively. Well, he has 0 Gold Glove awards, and he batted .255 last year with a .288 OBP, 6 HR, and 54 RBI. If 24 year old (25 in June) Tim Anderson puts up similar numbers this year, Rick Hahn will be starting a Go Fund Me page in an effort to scrape every last dime together for Manny Machado. Maybe just give him Navy Pier and call it even.

The Tigers picked up Jeimer Candelario from the Cubs’ system when they shipped Justin Wilson and Alex Avila to the north side. The Cubs have a guy named Kris Bryant at 3B, so they didn’t see a need for Candelario, who played pretty well in a limited major league stint toward the end of 2017. Yolmer Sanchez has an opportunity to prove that he is not a placeholder for the Sox and can be counted on for a .285 AVG, .350 OBP, 15 HR, 70 RBI line with great defense and a great clubhouse presence. His enthusiasm is infectious and this White Sox fan wants him to succeed badly.

I like James McCann, if only because I saw him call out Iglesias for being lazy in a game against the Red Sox in 2015. I thought that was a gutsy thing to do for a young player like McCann (who is now 27). Detroit Free Press writer Anthony Fenech, who covers the Tigers, calls McCann’s defense “exemplary”, and he hit 13 home runs and drove in 49 in 391 plate appearances last season. Wellington Castillo hit a career high 20 home runs last year and threw out a career high 49% of base runners trying to steal on him. Hahn had enough faith in him on both sides of the ball to give him a 2 year, 15 million dollar contract with a third year option. Barring something unforeseen, that will be the biggest deal any free agent inks with the Sox this winter/spring.

Mikie Mahtook and Leonys Martin will play good defense for the Tigers in left and center field, respectively, but they won’t get on base at an impressive clip or hit for middle of the order run production. That will fall to Nick Castellanos, who will shoulder the power load now that Cabrera and Victor Martinez are showing their ages. Castellanos’s line of .272 AVG, .320 OBP, .490 slugging percentage, 26 HR, 101 RBI and 72 extra base hits will be attractive to contending teams at the trade deadline. Castellanos is a free agent in 2020. Nicky Delmonico and Avi Garcia are both wildcards. Delmonico could explode like he did after his 2017 call up, with that beautiful left handed, lofty swing, or he could be the hitter that hung around the Mendoza line after returning from a wrist injury. Everyone knows Avi’s story, a breakout season at 26 years old. Can he maintain that level of play? As far as center field is concerned, that may be a White Sox promotion in 2018. “It’s Play Center Field For Us night at Guaranteed Rate ballpark…”

At DH for the Tigers, a decrepit Victor Martinez. For the White Sox, Matt Davidson, who has struck out 26 times since I started writing this article.

Advantage White Sox

Bench

According to the MLB Depth Chart, the Tigers primary back ups appear to be Victor Reyes (.292 AVG, .332 OBP, 4 HR, 51 RBI in Double A), John Hicks (.266 AVG, .326 OBP, 6 HR in 173 AB) and JaCoby Jones (.170 AVG in 141 AB). The Sox will most likely be led off the bench by Leury Garcia, who, like Sanchez, may be motivated to show the Sox he can play everyday.

Even

Starting rotation

For the Tigers, they’re working with a lot of number five and number six starters with earned run averages north of 5. The clear number one is Michael Fulmer, but he actually regressed somewhat from a very good rookie year. Even with a less than exciting line, 10-12, 3.83 ERA, 114 Ks in 164.2 innings pitched, Fulmer would be in huge demand if the Tigers decided to dangle him at the trade deadline, provided he stays healthy. Former stud Jordan Zimmermann is a shell of his former self, going 8-13 with a 6.08 ERA and 103 Ks in 160 innings pitched in 2017. It appears, like Cabrera and Martinez, that his best days are behind him, and his contract would be impossible to move. If Carlos Rodon can start the year healthy (a massive if), the Sox are looking at a Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, James Shields, and Carson Fulmer rotation, with the prospect of a June call up for Michael Kopech and his 103 mph fastball. With young horses like Dane Dunning and Alec Hansen coming up behind Kopech, the Sox could be the envy of the major leagues by 2020.

Advantage White Sox

Bullpen

Veterans Shane Greene (4-3, 2.66 ERA, 71 games, 73 Ks in 67.2 innings pitched) and Alex Wilson (66 games, 4.50 ERA) could be trade bait for contending teams in need of bullpen help midseason. If they leave, LHP Daniel Stumpf (55 games, 3.82 ERA) will carry the load. Remember David Robertson, Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle, and Anthony Swarzak? Well, I suppose you can say goodbye to Nate Jones, Joakim Soria, Gregory Infante, and Danny Farquhar now, because if they produce, they’ll be pitching for contending teams in 2018.

Even

Next: Where will the 2018 White Sox be in 2021?

Random thought: Nick Saban will make 11.13 million dollars this season for coaching Alabama’s national championship football team. His line, 0 tackles, 0 interceptions, 0 yards rushing, 0 yards receiving, 0 sacks, 0 touchdown passes, and 0 return yards is pretty anemic. Meanwhile (Ozzie!), offensive MVP Tua Tagovailoa and defensive MVP Da’Ron Payne made 0 dollars and 0 cents in leading their team to a scintillating come from behind victory. Weak.

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