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Will Turmoil Cloud Chi Sox Season?

On the heels of Adam Laroche’s surprise retirement, the White Sox are starting the season with a morale level of zero, but remain a top sleeper candidate for the 2016 season. Led by Chris Sale and Jose Abreu, the Chi Sox underachieved in 2015, finishing fourth in the American League Central. Given their long odds for 2016, no other team with this amount of talent offers better value heading into the season.

Looking back at the last 20 World Series winners, two of them —the 2014 Giants and 2003 Marlins — finished in fourth place the year before, so it’s a climb that’s been done before. If you think the White Sox are up to the task, they can be had at +3300 in World Series Futures markets, and +1600 to capture the American League pennant. Also of note, fourth place teams went on to win the pennant the next season four times over the last 20 years.

On the more plausible side, the White Sox are +600 to win the AL Central, ahead of only the Minnesota Twins. Over the last 20 years, teams who finished fourth in their division went on to finish first the next season just 12 times. It’s only happened twice in the AL Central during that span — including the 2008 White Sox who went from 72 wins in 2007 to 89 wins in 2008. I wonder what the policy was in 2008 in regards to allowing kids in the locker room…

And for those who don’t like Chicago’s odds of winning anything this season, there’s the OVER/UNDER win total of 80.5. Taking the OVER seems like a scary proposition considering the Sox haven’t toppled that total since 2012. It’s been a rough go in Chicago’s south side over the last three seasons with the team averaging just 70 wins per season, but adding Todd Frazier to a mostly young roster that underachieved last season could be a recipe for a breakthrough season. That, combined with not allowing children in the clubhouse, of course.

Speaking of Frazier, what kind of difference will the third baseman make after switching over from the National League? For starters, Frazier and his 35 homers last season will take over the hot corner for a team that got just 16 combined home runs from four different players who played the position for them last season. Those concerned with the move to the new ballpark shouldn't be as the dimensions at U.S. Cellular Field don't differ too much from Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark. Worth noting, however, is that there were 183 home runs hit at the Great American Ballpark in 2015, compared to just 156 at U.S. Cellular, but that might have had more to do with Chicago’s offense which ranked dead last in the American League.

Despite the off-field distraction hanging over the White Sox entering the season, the team has enough talent to be competitive, and it will be massive disappointment if they don’t crack the .500 mark. If they play to their ability — unlike last season — expect to see them in the playoff hunt in the stretch run.

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2016 Chicago White Sox Futures Odds
MarketOdds
World Series+3300
American League Pennant+1600
American League Central+600
Win Totals80.5

Odds as of April 1 at Bovada

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