The gap was almost exactly as wide (ed note, its been pointed out I did the math wrong, the original article stated it was a wider gap, its actually a 1⁄2 game narrower) if you look at their Pythagorean Records. The Sox projected a 69-92 finish, while the Twins projected at 97-65. For those who don’t know, the Pythagorean record is what the team would have been expected to finish at, based just off runs scored and allowed.
Many “Twins fans” have been crying that the team is standing pat this off season. That is not the case, as they have signed two of the best free agent starters—it just so happens that those guys pitched in Minnesota last season. The Twins have also added two solid relievers to the group that existed on November first. Finally, they addressed the hole at back-up catcher. None of these are sexy signings, but the Twins didn’t need that. How exactly do you improve a 101-win team that is loaded with cost-controlled players just entering their primes, a team that set MLB home-run records? Yes, the Twins still need an arm or two, but they have plenty of time to swing a trade to make that happen.
Meanwhile, on the south side of Chicago, that 72-win team added a 2.5 WAR catcher (Yasmani Grandal,) 2.0 and 1.7 WAR (Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzales) starters, and a 2.7 WAR DH on the wrong side of the aging curve (Edwin Encarnacion.) Plus they traded for a .07 WAR outfielder (Nomar Mazara.) Lets just say each of those guys is replacing a guy at replacement level, the Sox moved the needle by just less than ten (9.6) wins. that makes them a basically .500 team at 82 wins.
The Sox offset their gains by ditching Yolmer Sanchez and Ivan Nova, who both accrued 2.1 WAR. Now their 9.6 Win gain drops back down to 5.4 net wins. Why, oh “Twins Fans” are you sobbing and rending your garments over a rival adding five wins to a lousy record? Heck, Detroit’s three free agent signings (which just haven’t been as splashy) have the Tigers at +3 net wins. Should we be scared of them too? Where is your fear-mongering about the kitties?
The Twins did lose a few players though. Kyle Gibson (0.4 WAR) went to Texas. C.J. Cron (1.4 WAR) and Jonathan Schoop (1.6 WAR) signed in Detroit, Martin Perez (0.2 WAR) is in Boston and Jason Castro (0.7 WAR) is still a free agent. If every one of those players is just replaced by a replacement level player, the Twins lose 4.3 Wins, which means they’d still be set for well over 90 wins.
Tyler Clippard and Alex Avila are both better than replacement level though, and the Twins are still likely to add another player or two, possibly even someone of the caliber of Josh Donaldson or David Price. Avila was worth 1.4 WAR last season, twice what Jason Castro was, and Clippard was worth 1.4 WAR as well. Just those two players offset the Twins losses significantly, with the team as-it-stands-currently only losing a net 1.5 wins. The next player the Twins add likely makes them a better team than last season, just based on net WAR alone.
The White Sox are loaded with young talent, but so are the Twins. Same for veteran leadership or any other intangible argument you choose to make. The Sox under performed a little last season, and the Twins over performed, but neither of those factors is enough to explain a 29-game gap in their real records last season. Based on the players coming and going this off season, that gap should have been closed to a whopping 25 wins. Do you really think intangibles, luck, and the Sox young players somehow getting better while ours regress is enough to make up 25 wins? I don’t.
The White Sox got a little better this off season, but not by as much as certain “Twins fans” think, and they still aren’t a credible threat to the AL Central crown. I’m not usually one to tell people how to be a fan—but this time I am. Have some faith, have some confidence, and act like you actually like the team. Calling for heads at this point is just ruining the experience for the rest of us.