The Dismal History

Congratulations, South Siders, your team is one of just seven across the Big Four sports to miss out on the postseason every year of the past decade.

Why This Season Could Be Different

A rebuild effort that began three years ago with the trade of ace Chris Sale (you might remember him from the one-man war he waged against a throwback jersey) left the Sox with a slew of young talent that’s now all grown up. That, plus some key off-season additions, has pundits predicting — dare we say it? — a playoff appearance.

The New Guys

If you’ve followed the team for long, you’ve heard this scenario before: The Sox land a big-name free agent … only to find out he peaked three years earlier.

Not this time, if for no other reason than there are so many fresh faces that at least some of them have to pan out. Former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel adds a reliable lefty to the rotation. DH Edwin Encarnación, the only man with 30-plus home runs each of the past eight seasons, and right fielder Nomar Mazara, who hit the longest homer in the majors last year (against the Sox, natch), bring pop to the lineup. Two-time All-Star Yasmani Grandal gives the team a catcher who — clutch your pearls, Sox fans — can actually catch. And pitcher and perennial prodigal son returnee Gio González — who was drafted by the Sox in 2004, traded away in 2005, traded back in 2006, traded away again in 2008 — is back once more.

The Young’uns

Remember in 2000 when a core of young talent that inspired the slogan “The Kids Can Play” took the Sox to the playoffs? Well, call this year’s team “The Kids Can Play 2.0.”

Say hello to your new center fielder and leadoff man, Luis Robert, who looked so good in the minors that the Sox locked him up with a six-year deal before he’s played a single game in the majors. Pitcher Michael Kopech, who spent the last 19 months wandering the Arizona desert tweeting life philosophies while recovering from elbow surgery, has the very real potential to throw a baseball faster than any human ever has. Third baseman Yoán Moncada is finally living up to his early hype as one of the league’s top prospects. Left fielder Eloy Jiménez, a.k.a. the man with the red batting gloves, finished fourth in 2019 AL Rookie of the Year voting. And it’s just a matter of time before jockey-size Nick Madrigal is holding down second base for the Sox.

The Vets

The most critical moment in this turnaround may have actually happened way back in 2013, with the drafting of Tim Anderson, the bat-flipping shortstop who brings swagger to the team. Yes, he is walk-averse and had more errors than anyone else in baseball last season, but all that is forgiven when you consider he won the freakin’ major league batting title. That’s something only one other player in the history of the White Sox has done: Luke Appling in 1936. And he’s in the Hall of Fame.

Equally key: The Sox re-signed first baseman José Abreu, who led the American League in RBIs in 2019 and has become the soul of the team, for another three years.

The Upshot

If winning the World Series is Avengers: Endgame, think of this season as Iron Man — a splashy first step in what could be a crescendoing multiyear run.