Tim Anderson’s pick for the top team in the American League Central won’t come as a surprise.
“We’re the best team in the division,” Anderson told Our Chuck Garfien on the White Sox Talk Podcast, “hands down.”
But this isn’t the run-of-the-mill annual dose of spring confidence. The White Sox have the roster to finally back up Anderson’s preseason claim.
After ascending from rebuilding to contending last year, adding two big-time pitching pieces to the mix this winter in Liam Hendriks and Lance Lynn and filling a hole in right field with World Series winner Adam Eaton, the White Sox indeed boast the division’s finest collection of players, on paper. There's an argument to be made they're the best team in the AL.
The Minnesota Twins have attempted to keep pace, getting a recent boost from re-signing Nelson Cruz and adding former White Sox closer Alex Colomé. This after they made less splashy signings of J.A. Happ and Andrelton Simmons. It looks like it will be a season-long dogfight between the teams that finished just a game apart in last year’s final Central standings.
The Cleveland Indians have seemingly taken themselves out of the hunt for the division title, trading away their superstar shortstop, Francisco Lindor, along with an underrated rotation piece in Carlos Carrasco. But they still have MVP candidate José Ramírez and reigning Cy Young winner Shane Bieber for the White Sox and Twins to worry about.
And while the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers appear to be improved — the Royals acquired outfielder Andrew Benintendi in a trade just Wednesday night — they don’t figure to factor into the chase for the Central championship in 2021.
The White Sox figure to be a popular preseason pick. But while teammate Aaron Bummer said he doesn’t care about which team has the edge on paper — preferring to “go out and take” the division crown from the Twins — Anderson thinks favorite status can serve as its own motivator for the South Siders.
“It makes sense, right? If you look at it paper-wise, we’re the best team in the division. So that should easily motivate guys,” Anderson said. “We’re the best team in the division on paper, so imagine what we can do on the field.
“It’s just about having that attitude, and I think we’ve got a lot of guys with that attitude. And now we’ve got a lot of guys that are going to bite at the guys to make them have that attitude.”