Batting Around: Are the White Sox still AL Central’s favorites after a slow, injury-ridden start?

After a very long offseason and a little too short spring training, the 2022 Major League Baseball regular season is underway. Games count and teams are vying for a spot in the new 12-team postseason format.

Throughout the season, experts at CBS Sports MLB will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable, detailing just about anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts on the future of baseball, all sorts of things. Last week we chose between Juan Soto and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. This week we are going to discuss a struggling division champion.

Are the White Sox still a favorite in AL Central?

RJ Anderson: I think so, but I’m worried – more about the injuries they’ve suffered than their performance so far (although I didn’t anticipate them flirting with the worst American League racing differential at this point). This is not a team that has the depth to withstand long absences from key contributors. The twins also deserve some praise here for presenting a better spin than expected. We’ll see if they can carry on, but it’s fair to say that this was their biggest weakness in the role; if it’s not really a weakness then AL Central might be theirs to lose.

Mike Axisa: Yes, I think so. It’s a long, long season and I’m not giving up after three weeks (at this point last year the White Sox were hovering around 0.500 and dealing with injuries). Every team goes through a rough patch at some point. I will say that the Twins and Tigers have been improved, and Guardians are not an easy task, so AL Central should be more competitive this year than last year. Chicago’s margin of error is not that great. I agree with what RJ said about his depth concerns, although I think this applies to every team in the division. Unstable start to the season, for sure, but it’s not the time to review expectations, I don’t think.

Matt Snyder: Yes, they are favorites. They’ve just gone through what will be their worst losing streak of the season and are still within relatively easy reach of first place (they’re 2 1/2 games behind the Twins). Let’s say each team’s true level of talent ends up with the White Sox winning the division by something like seven games (that’s how I would have hurt them for the season). How much would what we saw in three weeks really change that? Perhaps now we would say that they will win the division by five or six? For me the injuries are way bigger than the losing streak, but Yoan Moncada will be back soon, Lance Lynn is not far away and Eloy Jimenez will be back in the second half. I expect Rick Hahn to be aggressive in trading season as well.

Dayn Perry: Given that I picked the Tigers to win this division, I will say no, the White Sox are not the favourites. I don’t read much about early-season fights, but Chicago’s injuries are worrisome. Whoever wins this, the worst division in baseball, won’t get 90 wins.

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