White Sox 2023 ZiPS projections that make me want to bet Dan Szymborski

Every year, the cat friendly Dan Szymborski puts out his ZiPS projections over at Fangraphs. I’m a Fangraphs supporter and I really like Dan’s work. However, I’m a betting man and anytime I look at projections I can’t help but think about which ones I would bet against. Reviewing the 2023 White Sox ZiPS projections was no different. Now, I did do a version of this blog last year, you can read it HERE. Unfortunately for old BeefLoaf, Dan kicked my ass last year and I only went 2-4. My 2 victories being Luis Robert‘s batting average over .279 (it was .284) and Dylan Cease‘s K% being higher than Lucas Giolito‘s (30.4% to 25.4%). It was a massacre. But I won’t be deterred in 2023, so here are the things I would bet against.

This is Dan Szymborski, noted cat guy, just like the BeefLoaf

If you want to hear Dan talk about these White Sox projections long form, he was on with our friend Josh Nelson at SoxMachine, that podcast is linked HERE.

Eloy Jimenez over 120 OPS+

Maybe I am experiencing a bit of recency bias with this one, but we White Sox fans just watched Eloy play the entire 2nd half of the season on 1 leg and give us an ALL-TIME GREAT hitters 2nd half in team history. The 167 OPS+ in the 2nd half looked like far from a mirage as it included Eloy hitting bullets, using opposite field power and finally taking his walks. Yes, the plate discipline arrived. If he could just lift the ball a little more often we are looking at a top 10 hitter in baseball.

Andrew Vaughn over .267 Batting Average

It’s not just that Andrew Vaughn hit .271 in 2022. I tend to think that there is more upside with Vaughn than we saw last year. However, given that basically nobody was afraid of Andrew in the 2nd half of 2022 leading to a miniscule walk rate, he’ll need HIT his way into his additional upside. This should have a good chunk of the 2023 season being pitchers coming right at him and him responding accordingly. Look, I don’t know how confident I am that Andrew Vaughn is next in a long line of great First Basemen that have played on the southside, but this is really our only way up, so I gots to believe.

Yasmani Grandal under .170 ISO

May 16, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Chicago White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal (24) gestures to the dugout after hitting a home run against the Kansas City Royals during the fourth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

I loved the Yasmani Grandal signing back in 2019 and even after a dreadful 2022 season in which he was hurt and bad, then bad and hurt, I am still glad they did it. Now, back before the 2022 season, I blogged (you can READ IT HERE) about how I was concerned about Yas’ age and injuries and wondered aloud if he should DH more. What I found in that research is that his comps materially all regressed very hard at age 33 or 34. Yas enters the 2023 season at age 34, and while I expect him to be better than his age 33 season, that may just be more walks and a few more singles related to the extinguishment of the shift. I don’t expect the power to be back in a traditional Yas sense.

Dylan Cease under 29.5% K-Rate

It’s weird for me to say that after Dylan Cease had a AL Cy Young runner-up performance in 2022, that I think he’ll actually get better in the following season. But that’s exactly what I am saying here. The bet doesn’t look like that as I think Cease will actually reduce his strike out rate, but I think that is by design. The 2nd half of 2022 he started to learn to pitch more to contact, especially to hitters who can’t do shit with his stuff and will flail away with no impact. His near no-hitter versus Minnesota on national tv showcased that beautifully. I expect more of the same from the White Sox ace ending up in a reduced, but still outstanding K Rate. Boy we’ve come a long way from myself and Rick Giolito having it out on the 108 YouTube channel about Cease. Of course Rick was right. He always is.

Reynaldo Lopez under 4.16 ERA

Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images

Last year Reynaldo Lopez was just a different dude. Many White Sox fans had been screaming for awhile to change his role to 1 inning bullpen killer and the team finally did it with the results the fanbase coveted. His ascension to that role took many twists and turns, but now that he is here, he brought a 2022 full season ERA of 2.76, with a FIP of 1.93 backing it up solidly. Dan’s ZiPS model appears to still have Reynaldo in that hybrid role where he’s starting sometimes, because it has him topping 97 innings pitched. I don’t think that’s going to be the case in 2023. Some will say this is an angle shoot, but I gotta get in where I fit in. ($1 Wally$).



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