What if the Chicago White Sox are all healthy for the 2023 season?
What if the White Sox are all healthy for the 2023 season? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Over the past two seasons, the White Sox have fallen victim to the injury bug. Players they would consider part of their long-term core have not seen the field at a normal rate.
They suffered enough injuries in 2022 to deem their season sufferable and causal to the outcome of their underwhelming season.
Yoán Moncada entered the season in IL with an oblique issue. Tim Anderson left the team with a finger injury in early August and never returned. Yasmani Grandal admitted on the White Sox Talk podcast he evaded back surgery to continue playing — ultimately losing power from his legs as a result. Eloy Jiménez experienced a similar, ongoing injury as Grandal. And Luis Robert finished the season swinging the bat with one hand because of a wrist injury.
Moncada played 104 games, Anderson 79, Grandal 99, Eloy 84 and Luis 98. On the mound, Michael Kopech also struggled with a repetitive knee injury, which kept him to 25 games.
The 2021 season saw similar themes. Grandal played 93 games, Robert 68 and Eloy 55. Luckily, the majority stayed healthy and their on-field success drove them to a division title and a playoff berth.
2022 was a different story.
The injuries, along with a conglomerate of other reasons — maybe not as significant as the injuries — forced the White Sox into a .500, 81-81 season.
They finished far below expectation and fell to a young, underdog team in the Cleveland Guardians. They took the AL Central by storm, winning the division by 11 games over the White Sox.
On the White Sox Talk podcast, Joe Kelly called the 2022 season a “worst-case scenario.” But what if the White Sox stayed relatively healthy for the upcoming, highly anticipated 2023 season?
Is that the best-case scenario?
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It seems that would be the best-case scenario. This White Sox roster is extremely talented. But their coup de grâce over the past two seasons has been their own health.
If the White Sox can manage their ability to stay on the field, they have the opportunity to extract the full potential the organization believes lies in the clubhouse.
The reason minimal moves have been made in the offseason — with the exception of Andrew Benintendi, the franchise’s largest contract ever, and Mike Clevinger — is because the organization believes they possess the talent to achieve their goals.
And who can argue with that?
Unfortunately, injuries have become a mainstay in the clubhouse; it’s part of the reason they haven’t developed into a deep playoff contender.
I don’t have to spell it out for you. This is a team filled with power, versatility, speed and a heckuva starting rotation.
In 2021, they finished with the third-best batting average, fifth-best on-base percentage, fifth-most hits and seventh-most runs in the league. Don't stop there. Their pitchers finished with the ninth-best ERA and 11th-best WHIP.
That culminated in a 93-69 season, AL Central win and a playoff berth.
Can the White Sox replicate or exceed their results from the 2021 season?
As the World Baseball Classic wraps up on Tuesday, the White Sox are fielding a relatively healthy roster before Opening Day. Moncada (bruised rips) and Jiménez (cramps) got banged up. But by the looks of it, they'll be ready to go when it matters.
So the question remains — can the White Sox stay healthy enough this season to take control of their full potential as a clubhouse?
I'd say, if they can stay relatively healthy – at least more so than in recent seasons – they have the potential to make some noise in the postseason.
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