Amidst a flurry of aggressive moves from the Padres, Bleacher Report released their 10 Bold Predictions for the MLB in 2021. Among their bold predictions was the Chicago White Sox facing off with the San Diego Padres in the World Series. These are two teams who are very similar on paper with lots of talent. They both have deep farm systems, up and coming stars along with some savvy veteran pickups by their respective front offices. This matchup is sure to have every baseball fan salivating at the opportunity to see two exciting young squads face off in a series that has the chance to be an electric factory.
Imagine Tim Anderson opening the series with a home run then launching his bat like a javelin only to have Frenado Tatis Jr. return the favor against the team that traded him. Then watching Tony La Russa promptly instruct Lance Lynn to rifle a fastball at Tatis back his next time up because he was “disrespecting the game”. Would the White Sox still have bad blood with Manny Machado after he passed them up to play in San Diego? People would have a hard time calling baseball boring after a series like that. The possibilities for excitement are endless.
Of course the offseason is still young and more moves are yet to be made. The landscape of baseball can drastically change. The Yankees and Dodgers are also still standing in the way of a White Sox Padres World Series. But if the baseball god bless us with this matchup who would have the edge?
Both teams upgraded their starting rotations this offseason however the Padres were much more aggressive. They started by acquiring Blake Snell from the Tampa Bay Rays then went out and traded for Yu Darvish. In less than a week the Padres had complied to battle tested aces to add to a rotation that already included Chris Paddock and incumbent ace Dinelson Lamet. If things don’t work out this year they still have Mike Clevinger waiting in the wings for 2022. Snell brings a Cy Young Award and World Series experience to the group. Darvish also brings World Series experience and a nasty repertoire of pitches.
The White Sox meanwhile traded for one year of Lance Lynn to round out a big three that includes Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel. These three also have a Cy Young award, no-hitter, World Series experience and some All-Star appearances between them. Rounding out the White Sox rotation is Dylan Cease and Micheal Kopech/Reynaldo Lopez/Garrett Crochet/insert free agent here. While the fifth spot is yet to be determine there is lots of upside in some of the candidates. With a new pitching coach, Dylan Cease has the stuff to make a massive jump in his third season. White Sox fans have also been eagerly anticipating the return of Micheal Kopech, who has the talent to be a top of the rotation starting pitcher.
The Padres have a slight edge here given the unknown at the back end of the White Sox rotation. But if Dylan Cease can live up to his potential the White Sox can go toe to toe with any rotation in baseball.
The Padres infield is headlined by Eric Hosmer, Frednado Tatis Jr and Manny Machado. With the addition of Victor Caratini behind the plate, the Padres added some much needed depth at catcher.
Hosmer has been a thorn in the White Sox side ever since his days with the Royals where he won a World Series title. He is an above average defender with multiple Gold Gloves and a solid hitter with multiple Silver Slugger awards to show for it.
Tatis is emerging as one of the most exciting players in the game of baseball. He is a five tool player and goes about his business with a sense of showmanship. Flanking his right is Manny Machado at the third base. He has already established himself among the games best. At second base the Padres will likely have a platoon of University of Michigan alumni Jake Croneworth and newly signed Ha-Seong Kim from the KBO. Seong Kim was a shortstop in Korea but with Machado and Tatis already occupying those positions he will slot in at second base. He slashed .294/.373/.493 in the KBO.
The White Sox lineup is led by the 2020 American League MVP in Jose Abreu. All Abreu has done since arriving from Cuba in 2014 is mash baseballs and he has shown no signs of slowing down. Alongside him is the 2019 batting champion Tim Anderson. At the hot corner is Yoan Moncada, another player with a rare speed/power combination, much like Tatis. The White Sox also have the luxery of one of the best catchers in baseball in Yasmani Grandal. The White Sox have two strike nightmare Nick Madrigal at second base. The sure handed second baseman puts pressure on opposing defenses by constantly putting the ball in play.
Once again this comes down to potential for the White Sox. Can Yoan Moncada bounce back after his COVID plagued season? If so the White Sox have the edge here. If not Padres take this category.
The Padres outfield consist of Tommy Pham, Trent Grisham and Will Myers. While the Padres have solid starters at each spot, the White Sox outfield is superior.
Eloy Jimenez has already proven to be an elite slugger and is only getting better. Luis Robert has the tools to be the best player in baseball. His range is unmatched and like Moncada and Tatis has the rare combination of speed and power. With a full spring training to prepare and a full season to adjust to major league pitching Robert should take a big step forward. In right field the White Sox have newly signed Adam Eaton who is returning for his second stint with the White Sox. Injuries have derailed his career but when fully healthy Eaton has proven to be a more than serviceable option, winning a World Series with the Nationals in 2019.
Should Eaton go down, Adam Engel is there to back him up. Engel has emerged as one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball and has slowly been improving as a hitter. With Robert and Engel roaming the outfield, a fly ball is going to have a tough time finding a place to land.
The White Sox have a slightly better offensive lineup on paper. Having the reigning MVP and the 2019 batting champion in the same lineup is hard to top, but the Padres lineup comes dangerously close. Where the Padres have the clear advantage is in their pitching. Their rotation is deeper and they have a solid closer in Drew Pomeranz. The White Sox are still looking for their next closer to complete an already formidable bullpen that includes Aaron Bummer, Evan Marshall, Codi Heuer and Garrett Crochet.
As it currently stands, Padres in 7. For the White Sox, the questions still remain on who their closer will be and how the bottom of the rotation will preform this season. While Tony La Russa has received his fair share of flack this offseason, he is a master strategist and will be able to juggle the bullpen enough to keep it close. However, the Padres star power might be too much to overcome. If Rick Hahn can add some more pitching then this could be a completely different story. Fingers crossed, these two teams can meet in October so we can find out.