While there are many unknowns about this pandemic-shortened, 60-game regular season in 2020, White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone is certain about one thing.
The White Sox are making the playoffs.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a surprise if the White Sox get there, and I’m fully intending that they will,” Stone said with confidence on the White Sox Talk Podcast.
He points to several factors for his prediction, which of course hinges on Major League Baseball being able to complete the season. With the virus, who knows?
One is the White Sox offense, which has added All Star Yasmani Grandal and Edwin Encarnacion, plus rookie stud-in-the-making Luis Robert. Put them into the mix with Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez and new power-hitting right fielder Nomar Mazara, who could hit 20-plus home runs from the eight-spot in the lineup, and the White Sox offense will light up the scoreboard on many nights, Stone says.
“The White Sox have one of the fine offensive clubs, not only in the division, but maybe in all of baseball,” Stone explained. “If everybody plays to their potential — who knows if they’re going to, I think they have a good chance to — if everybody plays to their potential on this team, this team is going to be fearsome offensively.”
He believes the shortened season will help them, too. As a former Cy Young Award winner, Stone knows from experience how long it takes to get into a groove. With only three weeks of training before the start of the regular season, he thinks it’ll be the hitters who have a big advantage in the beginning.
“When pitchers' arms aren’t entirely ready yet, they play right into the hands of the hitter because that slider and the curveball don’t break near as sharply, they don’t break near as much and they’re not nearly as consistent, and that means that hitters will probably dominate at the beginning. Because it’s only a two-month season, pitchers aren’t going to have a chance to get that consistency.
“I think all things play into the hands of the White Sox, and I’m looking for big things.”
And if you’re a White Sox fan who’s been soured by the ugly labor battle that poisoned the game for the last few months, Stone suggests that you put those feelings aside and enjoy what’s coming next.
“For the fans of the White Sox, understand something: They are entering into what I believe is going to be a renaissance period for White Sox baseball,” Stone said. “I would say don’t choose to stay away because you’re going to miss some really, really good things on the South Side of Chicago. The White Sox are going to be offensive, they’re going to score a lot of runs, and hopefully it translates with some pretty good pitching into a contending team a long way down the road.”