There are a lot of reasons for even the most optimistic White Sox fans to be pessimistic about the 2012 season.
Below this picture of the most laughable thumbs up in baseball history is an incomplete list of the reasons for pessimism, bulleted in no particular order off the top of my head.
- Our manager has no experience at his job.
- Adam Dunn is coming off, literally, the worst year ever for a hitter.
- Alex Rios has had a couple of good months as a White Sox, that’s it.
- We’re counting on at least 25-30 starts from oft-injured Jake Peavy.
- We need solid seasons from Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro de Aza, neither of whom have ever put together a solid full season at the major league level.
- Paul Konerko is a year older.
- The Tigers signed Prince Fielder – which they’ll likely regret in a few years, but which could be monstrous in 2012.
- The Royals are loaded with talent and ready to burst out.
- No more Mark Buehrle.
In baseball, come springtime, hope springs eternal. So while it’s entirely possible that the White Sox will get swept by the two-time defending AL Champs to open the season, three games I will be attending here in Dallas, and that this will serve as a harbinger of an awful, uncompetitive 2012 season…
You and I have a good six weeks before we need to worry about that.
With White Sox pitchers and catchers reporting to Camelback Ranch tomorrow, now seems like as good a time as any to spit in the face of all the negativity with some legitimate reasons to be excited about the ticketed-for-moribundity 2012 White Sox.
Because damnit I am excited about this season. Legitimately.
And why not? It’s baseball. That’s what we do this time of year.
1. Projections, Schmojections
I don’t follow any teams as closely as I follow the White Sox, so I don’t know how often other teams seem to defy preseason expectations; but it sure seems to me like there can’t be too many other teams that so consistently foil fans, analysts, and stat geeks alike as the White Sox.
Consider projections like PECOTA. This is from an article by James Fegan of White Sox Obsersver before last season:
This year, they (PECOTA) pick the Sox to go 80-82
However, that horrible news is offset by the fact that PECOTA has undershot the Sox every year recently except 2007, when it was just flat-out impossible to undershoot the Sox. The Sox beat their PECOTA rankings by 9 games last season, 6 before that, 11 before that, and a whopping 19 when they won it all in 2005.
Sure, you can point your fancy facts like the White Sox underperforming PECOTA’s modest projection by winning only 79 games last year, and you can discuss how Fegan himself tends to agree with this year’s similarly modest projections, but I scoff at your reasoned logic.
This is the White Sox, where it’s still all about 2005 baby, and that season we outperformed PECOTA by 19 games. And in several other seasons, the White Sox have defied preseason expectations in a positive direction.
So say it with me now!
Okay, so the 2012 White Sox are missing important elements of those past teams that did better than expected – guys like Jermaine Dye, Healthy Joe Crede, Healthy 5-Month MVP Carlos Quentin, and *sniff, sniff* Mark Buehrle – but at least Paulie and A.J., among a few others, are still around to show the young guys that preseason naysaying is not a death sentence.
Besides, I remember back in 2000 the White Sox weren’t supposed to be all that great either. One hot April and a Detroit brawl later, and the White Sox finished with the best record in the American League.
And did I mention 2005? You know, the year when the Sox signed oft-injured Jermaine Dye and traded away Carlos Lee and somehow improved by 16 games over the previous year?
Here’s the point: there is precedent, and plenty of it, for the White Sox overcoming low preseason projections and riding unexpected career years from supposedly washed up veterans to great heights. With a roster that includes names like Dunn, Peavy, and Rios, this thought is like hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day in how it fills me with sugary warmth.
Our GM seems to throw logic and reason out the window when analyzing his team. Why can’t we?