He doesn’t expect many calls for the White Sox to win the American League Central this season.
But Robin Ventura does anticipate his club will be significantly improved this season. On the eve of SoxFest, the White Sox manager said Thursday he isn’t sure whether or not general manager Rick Hahn intends to add any more pieces to the 2016 roster. But Ventura also made it clear that he already likes the group expected to be present when camp opens three weeks from now.
“I like our starting staff and if we can score some runs and catch the ball we’re going to be dangerous,” Ventura said during an event at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “We’re going to be the underdogs. When you play in the division that has the world champions, you become the underdogs. But I think that’s something we’re used to and we’re going to be able to see a team, with the guys that we’ve brought in, that should score some runs.”
The White Sox offense didn’t produce many runs in 2015 despite an infusion of talent. The performances of too many hitters didn’t meet expectations.
The White Sox finished last in the AL in most major categories. They scored three runs or fewer 82 times, tied for the second-most by the franchise since the mound was lowered. The White Sox went 22-60 in those games.
But Hahn spent much of December attempting to address those issues, which has resulted in an overhaul of one third of the lineup. Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie were acquired in December trades and are expected to man positions in which the White Sox finished 30th among 30 teams in OPS. And projections call for a combined three Wins Above Replacement from catchers Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro.
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The White Sox also hope to improve upon a defense that was at — or near — the bottom of the majors in most defensive statistics.
Already, two prominent sabermetric analysts have said the White Sox have done enough to compete for the AL Central title — if they stay healthy and perform.
The White Sox are projected to win 84-85 games, according to ZiPS, which puts them on par with World Series champion Kansas City and Detroit.
So even if Hahn can’t add any more pieces before pitchers and catchers report to Glendale, Ariz. on Feb. 19, Ventura thinks he has enough to work with in his fifth season.
“It’s something to be excited about,” Ventura said. “You never really know what you’re going to get when you go there. But for me, we’re excited to be going. I like the moves Rick has pulled off.”