Chicago Cubs vs Chicago White Sox: Who will be Better in 2021?

  • 2021 MLB season
  • AL Central
  • Anthony Rizzo
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Chicago White Sox
  • Javier Baez
  • Kris Bryant
  • Kyle Hendricks
  • Lucas Giolito
  • Luis Robert
  • MLB
  • NL Central
  • Tim Anderson
  • Yoan Moncada
By Jim Bay March 31, 2021 1 Comment
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The Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox are two MLB franchises that are heading in different directions. After the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, they have been a team in a little bit of decline, hindered by the financial issues that the Ricketts family have encountered in recent years. The White Sox, on the other hand, seem to be a team on the rise as they have developed some good young prospects while adding solid veterans to their roster. Could this be the year the White Sox surpasses the Cubs as the best team in Chicago?

Infield

If the Cubs are going to make any kind of run at the playoffs, they need a healthy season from Kris Bryant, who has always performed at elite heights when injuries have not gotten in his way. They also need Javier Báez to push his terrible 2020 offensive season far out of his mind. Báez hit .203 last season and ended with a 62 OPS+ in 59 games. He was vocal about the lack of in-game video hindering his routine and approach (thank you Houston Astros). Anthony Rizzo will capably man first base again while David Bote with a little Eric Sogard will play second base.

The White Sox are led in the infield by lead-off hitter and shortstop Tim Anderson. First baseman Jose Abreu is the reigning AL MVP. Third baseman Yoan Moncada had a sub-par 2020 but has the potential to be one of the best at the hot corner. Nick Madrigal is slated to play second base. Anderson and Moncada represent good young talent with a great deal of upside. Moncada needs to return to 2019 numbers but that is likely given what happened in 2020. Moncada revealed later in the year that the effects of COVID-19 lingered on far longer than he would have hoped.

Advantage: Even

Outfield

This category would have been a slam dunk for the White Sox if Eloy Jimenez had not torn his pectoral muscle, an injury that will keep him out to late August. Young prospect Andrew Vaughn may take over for him, whether it is at the start of the season or later in the spring. Luis Robert is coming off a spectacular rookie season, finishing as the runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year. Veteran Adam Eaton rounds out the outfield and Leury Garcia will see some action out there as well, especially if Eaton’s injury history holds true on the southside.

The bargain shopping Cubs found a bargain in Joc Pederson. The 1-year, $7 million deal is a good value for someone of his ability. An 88 wRC+ in 2020 certainly did no favors for his value coming into his free agency. Jayson Heyward will assume his position in right field and Ian Happ is slotted to play center field and is growing very nicely into that position. Happ’s bat isn’t a problem though. A wRC+ of 132 in 2020 and 128 in 2019 demonstrate that. Look for him to get on base and put up good numbers in the slugging department.

Advantage: White Sox

Catcher:

Willson Contreras is one of the better hitting catchers in the game. He has posted well over a 120 wRC+ in three of the five seasons he’s played. As an all-around force behind the plate, he is probably in the top 5 in MLB.

Yasmani Grandal will not hurt you at the plate and handles pitchers well.

Advantage: Cubs

Pitching Staff

The White Sox starting rotation is much deeper now. Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Lance Lynn, and Dylan Cease are rotation locks. Signing one of the best relievers in Liam Hendriks makes their bullpen quite solid. The biggest question for the Sox is how their young pitchers, like Giolito and Cease, will develop over the season. pitched to a 4.01 ERA and 1.44 WHIP with 44 strikeouts and 34 walks over 58 1/3 innings in 2020. This offseason, Cease worked with White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz to correct mechanical flaws in his lower body and overall command issues.

There is little depth in the Cubs and a lot of things have to go right for the Cubs to have a serviceable rotation. In fact, this might be the Achilles heel of the team. Kyle Hendricks will be just fine and the Cubs will hope Jake Arrieta can be close to what he has in the past. Zach Davies will give the Cubs a good pitcher that will give them quality starts. Pinpoint command and a wonderful change-up will be needed to keep the Cubs in games. The bullpen is questionable. Craig Kimbrel has been anything but an all-time great. A 6.53 ERA in 2019 and a 5.28 ERA in 2020 do not inspire confidence. A return to his previous form is needed if the Cubs have any chance of making the playoffs.

Advantage: White Sox

Season Projections

Most major projection and betting services have the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox with roughly the same number of wins averaged out to the mid-’80s. However, the Cubs have the biggest swing among the services. Some have them at just around 80 and finishing fourth in the NL Central. A few have them in the upper 80s and winning the division. The White Sox are more consistent with the services examined have the winning numbers solid and expecting to make the playoffs, either as a division champ or as a wildcard.

Verdict: This is the year that the White Sox surpass the Cubs as the best team in Chicago.

 

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Jim Bay is a retired special education teacher who now likes to write about sports when he is not slashing his way around local golf course. He is also part of the ownership group for Authentic, the 2020 Kentucky Derby and Breeder's Cup Classic champion

1 Comments

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JO st

March 31, 2021

Holy cow!

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