Monday, August 2, 2021

Power Rankings: NBA Draft Classes - 2021 Edition

Last week, the NBA welcomed 60 new players into their ranks with the latest NBA Draft.  It's always around this time that I like to go back and see how past draft classes compare to each other.  How have the recent classes improved?  What is the greatest draft class of all time?  Here is the latest attempt at determining that.

The rankings go back to 1989, which was the first draft of just 2 rounds.  I created a formula to evaluate the class that take into account MVP's, All-NBA players, Hall of Famers, success of the top pick, top 10 flops, and depth of the class into the 2nd round.  To see last year's evaluation and a bigger breakdown of how the formula works, click here.

32.  2020 Draft
Score: -7.875
1st Pick: Anthony Edwards (ranked 29.5 out of 32)
Best Player: Isaiah Stewart (ranked 31.5 out of 32)
All Stars: 0
All-NBA: 0
HoF: 0
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 5
Top 10 Flops: 7
Notable 2nd Rounders: 2 (Tillman Sr., Martin Jr.)

The latest class always ends up in last as they are still establishing careers.  For a class whose Rookie of the Year missed half the season, they have a lot of development to go.

t-30.  2000 Draft
Score: 0.875
1st Pick: Kenyon Martin (22)
Best Player: Hedo Turkoglu (31.5)
All Stars: 3 (Magloire, Martin, Redd)
All-NBA: 1 (Redd)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 8
Top 10 Flops: 5
Notable 2nd Rounders: 3 (House, Najera, Redd)

It's going to take a lot for another class to come along and settle in a position worse than this draft was.  No star power, no depth.

t-30.  2017 Draft
Score: 0.875
1st Pick: Markelle Fultz (29)
Best Player: Bam Adebayo (19.5)
All Stars: 3 (Adebayo, Mitchell, Tatum)
All-NBA: 1 (Tatum)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 4
Top 10 Flops: 6
Notable 2nd Rounders: 2 (Bryant, Morris)

They have a couple guys that have serious star potential, but Fultz needs to turn his career around for this draft to move up.

29.  2006 Draft
Score: 4.3125
1st Pick: Andrea Bargnani (27)
Best Player: LaMarcus Aldridge (21.75)
All Stars: 5 (Aldridge, Lowry, Millsap, Rondo, Roy)
All-NBA: 4 (Aldridge, Roy, Rondo, Lowry)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 8
Top 10 Flops: 6
Notable 2nd Rounders: 2 (Tucker, Millsap)

With LaMarcus Aldridge retiring, this draft is pretty much set as one of the worst in the last 30 years.

28.  2019 Draft
Score: 6.25
1st Pick: Zion Williamson (11.5)
Best Player: Zion Williamson (21)
All Stars: 1 (Williamson)
All-NBA: 0
HoF: 0
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 2
Top 10 Flops: 7
Notable 2nd Rounders: 2 (Gafford, Mann)

This draft class is on the rise quick and will go as far as Zion star power goes.

27.  2013 Draft
Score: 7.625
1st Pick: Anthony Bennett (31.5)
Best Player: Rudy Gobert (7.5)
All Stars: 3 (Antetokounmpo, Gobert, Oladipo)
All-NBA: 3 (Antetokounmpo, Gobert, Oladipo)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 2 (Antetokounmpo - 2)
Never Played: 9
Top 10 Flops: 3
Notable 2nd Rounders: 1 (Ennis)

It's shocking that despite 2 MVP seasons and now an NBA championship, Giannis is not the best player of the draft in terms of Win Shares.  There is star power, but there isn't any depth.  Anthony Bennett will go down as one of the worst draft misses in NBA history.

26.  2010 Draft
Score: 8.0625
1st Pick: John Wall (20)
Best Player: Paul George (24.75)
All Stars: 4 (Cousins, George, Hayward, Wall)
All-NBA: 3 (Wall, Cousins, George)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 9
Top 10 Flops: 2
Notable 2nd Rounders: 1 (Whiteside)

Similar to the last class, there is some star power here with Paul George potentially on a Hall of Fame track.  However, this class has been derailed by John Wall's injuries.  If he can rebound, he might be able to change the narrative.

25.  2018 Draft
Score: 9.875
1st Pick: Deandre Ayton (13.75)
Best Player: Luka Doncic (22)
All Stars: 2 (Doncic, Young)
All-NBA: 1 (Doncic)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 4
Top 10 Flops: 4
Notable 2nd Rounders: 4 (Brunson, Graham, Robinson, Brown)

Watch out for this draft class!  They have two stars that could be MVP candidates for the next 10+ seasons, and Ayton showed this season that he is special too.  They could move up this list for sure.

24.  1994 Draft
Score: 10
1st Pick: Glenn Robinson (22.5)
Best Player: Jason Kidd (26)
All Stars: 5 (Hill, Howard, Jones, Kidd, Robinson)
All-NBA: 4 (Kidd, Hill, Howard, Jones)
HoF: 2 (Kidd, Hill)
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 9
Top 10 Flops: 3
Notable 2nd Rounders: 2 (Smith, Lenard)

Two Hall of Famers is a great top of your class, but the Win Share stat doesn't seem to like Jason Kidd.  That's really what is holding this class down.

23.  2015 Draft
Score: 11.25
1st Pick: Karl-Anthony Towns (5.5)
Best Player: Karl-Anthony Towns (11)
All Stars: 4 (Booker, Porzingis, Russell, Towns)
All-NBA: 1 (Towns)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 16
Top 10 Flops: 6
Notable 2nd Rounders: 5 (Harrell, Holmes, Richardson, Connaughton, Powell)

Karl-Anthony Towns has a chance to be an all-time great, and Devin Booker will make an All-NBA team soon, but how have 16 players from this draft never played?

22.  1991 Draft
Score: 12.5625
1st Pick: Larry Johnson (13.5)
Best Player: Dikembe Mutombo (25.75)
All Stars: 7 (Anderson, Brandon, Davis, Gatling, Johnson, Mutombo, Smith)
All-NBA: 2 (Johnson, Mutombo)
HoF: 1 (Mutombo)
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 10
Top 10 Flops: 3
Notable 2nd Rounders: 1 (Phills)

A lot of All Stars here, but very little star power and depth in the second round.

21.  1989 Draft
Score: 12.625
1st Pick: Pervis Ellison (25)
Best Player: Vlade Divac (28.5)
All Stars: 9 (Armstrong, Barros, Blaylock, Divac, Elliott, Hardaway, Kemp, Rice, Robinson)
All-NBA: 3 (Rice, Hardaway, Kemp)
HoF: 2 (Divac, Rada)
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 6
Top 10 Flops: 3
Notable 2nd Rounders: 2 (Douglas, Robinson)

Similar to the last class, a lot of good players, but no real stars.  When Vlade Divac is your most accomplished player, your class has a pretty low ceiling.

20.  2014 Draft
Score: 13.375
1st Pick: Andrew Wiggins (26.5)
Best Player: Nikola Jokic (4.5)
All Stars: 4 (Embiid, Jokic, LaVine, Randle)
All-NBA: 3 (Embiid, Randle, Jokic)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 1 (Jokic)
Never Played: 7
Top 10 Flops: 4
Notable 2nd Rounders: 6 (Harris, Dinwiddie, Grant, Jokic, Powell, Clarkson)

The biggest mover from last year, this class jumped 6 spots thanks to Jokic's MVP award.  Add Embiid to that, and a solid second round (including Jokic), and this class can continue to rise.

19.  2001 Draft
Score: 13.6875
1st Pick: Kwame Brown (27)
Best Player: Pau Gasol (18.25)
All Stars: 8 (Arenas, Chandler, Gasol, Johnson, Okur, Parker, Randolph, Wallace)
All-NBA: 6 (Chandler, Gasol, Johnson, Randolph, Parker, Arenas)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 8
Top 10 Flops: 3
Notable 2nd Rounders: 3 (Arenas, Okur, Simmons)

An infamously bad top pick is somewhat saved by a lot of depth behind him (and two All Star second round picks).

18.  2016 Draft
Score: 14.25
1st Pick: Ben Simmons (10)
Best Player: Ben Simmons (20)
All Stars: 5 (Brown, Ingram, Sabonis, Siakam, Simmons)
All-NBA: 2 (Simmons, Siakam)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 6
Top 10 Flops: 4
Notable 2nd Rounders: 2 (Zubac, Brogdon)

The Win Share stat loves Ben Simmons, making him a top ten #1 pick of all time.  We will see if he can keep his class here with the drama surrounding him.

17.  2004 Draft
Score: 15.25
1st Pick: Dwight Howard (8)
Best Player: Dwight Howard (16)
All Stars: 5 (Deng, Harris, Howard, Iguodala, Nelson)
All-NBA: 2 (Howard, Jefferson)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 13
Top 10 Flops: 2
Notable 2nd Rounders: 3 (Varejao, Duhon, Ariza)

Dwight Howard dominates this class, and you also have the Al Jefferson, the rare player to make an All-NBA team without ever making an All Star Game.

16.  1995 Draft
Score: 15.375
1st Pick: Joe Smith (19.5)
Best Player: Kevin Garnett (12.5)
All Stars: 6 (Finley, Garnett, McDyess, Ratliff, Stackhouse, Wallace)
All-NBA: 2 (McDyess, Garnett)
HoF: 1 (Garnett)
MVP's: 1 (Garnett)
Never Played: 8
Top 10 Flops: 3
Notable 2nd Rounders: 2 (Snow, Hoiberg)

The Kevin Garnett draft.  Yet another draft elevated by an all-time great.

15.  1990 Draft
Score: 15.875
1st Pick: Derrick Coleman (18.5)
Best Player: Gary Payton (20.5)
All Stars: 6 (Ceballos, Coleman, Davis, Hill, Payton, Williams)
All-NBA: 2 (Coleman, Payton)
HoF: 2 (Payton, Kukoc)
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 2
Top 10 Flops: 4
Notable 2nd Rounders: 4 (Kukoc, Coles)

This turned out to be a deep draft with a couple Hall of Famers.  If only Derrick Coleman could have stayed healthy...

14.  1998 Draft
Score: 16.375
1st Pick: Michael Olowokandi (31.5)
Best Player: Dirk Nowitzki (8.5)
All Stars: 5 (Carter, Jamison, Lewis, Nowitzki, Pierce)
All-NBA: 3 (Carter, Nowitzki, Pierce)
HoF: 1 (Pierce)
MVP's: 1 (Nowitzki)
Never Played: 1
Top 10 Flops: 2
Notable 2nd Rounders: 5 (Patterson, Lewis, Alston, Mobley, Buckner)

An all-time bad top pick is saved by an all-time great in Dirk and a really deep 2nd round.

13.  1993 Draft
Score: 17.125
1st Pick: Chris Webber (15)
Best Player: Sam Cassell (28.5)
All Stars: 7 (Baker, Cassell, Hardaway, Houston, Mashburn, Van Exel, Webber)
All-NBA: 5 (Webber, Hardaway, Mashburn, Baker, Cassell)
HoF: 1 (Webber)
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 11
Top 10 Flops: 1
Notable 2nd Rounders: 4 (Harris, Van Exel, Russell, Whitney)

No transcendent talent, but a lot of really good talent puts this class where it is.

12.  2002 Draft
Score: 17.4375
1st Pick: Yao Ming (5.5)
Best Player: Amar'e Stoudemire (22.25)
All Stars: 4 (Boozer, Butler, Ming, Stoudemire)
All-NBA: 3 (Ming, Stoudemire, Boozer)
HoF: 1 (Ming)
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 9
Top 10 Flops: 3
Notable 2nd Rounders: 4 (Boozer, Barnes, Butler, Scola)

When Yao was healthy, he was an all-time great.  Injuries and accidents derailed the careers of the top two picks in this draft.

11.  1999 Draft
Score: 18.5
1st Pick: Elton Brand (13.25)
Best Player: Shawn Marion (22.5)
All Stars: 9 (Artest, Brand, Davis, Francis, Ginobili, Hamilton, Kirilenko, Marion, Szczerbiak)
All-NBA: 5 (Brand, Davis, Marion, Artest, Ginobili)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 12
Top 10 Flops: 1
Notable 2nd Rounders: 1 (Ginobili)

Everyone forgets how good everyone in this draft was.  Nine All Stars is a big number!

10.  2007 Draft
Score: 18.75
1st Pick: Greg Oden (16.5)
Best Player: Kevin Durant (5)
All Stars: 5 (Conley, Durant, Gasol, Horford, Noah)
All-NBA: 4 (Durant, Horford, Noah, Gasol)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 1 (Durant)
Never Played: 11
Top 10 Flops: 2
Notable 2nd Rounders: 3 (Landry, Gasol, Sessions)

Cracking the top ten for the first time.  If Oden had been good in any way, this could have been a top 5 class.

9.  2008 Draft
Score: 19.3125
1st Pick: Derrick Rose (22)
Best Player: Russell Westbrook (19.75)
All Stars: 7 (Dragic, Hibbert, Jordan, Lopez, Love, Rose, Westbrook)
All-NBA: 5 (Rose, Westbrook, Love, Jordan, Dragic)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 2 (Westbrook, Rose)
Never Played: 9
Top 10 Flops: 2
Notable 2nd Rounders: 5 (Chalmers, Jordan, Asik, Mbah a Moute, Dragic)

If only Rose had stayed healthy...  As it is, this is a great class with a couple really good players coming out of the second round.

8.  2011 Draft
Score: 22.25
1st Pick: Kyrie Irving (11)
Best Player: Jimmy Butler (12)
All Stars: 7 (Butler, Irving, Leonard, Thomas, Thompson, Vucevic, Walker)
All-NBA: 6 (Irving, Walker, Thompson, Leonard. Butler, Thomas)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 6
Top 10 Flops: 4
Notable 2nd Rounders: 3 (Bogdanovic, Parsons, Thomas)

This class is littered with potential Hall of Famers.  It's surprising there hasn't been an MVP out of this group.  Leonard or maybe Butler could still pull one off.

7.  2005 Draft
Score: 23.125
1st Pick: Andrew Bogut (19.5)
Best Player: Chris Paul (1.5)
All Stars: 5 (Bynum, Granger, Lee, Paul, Williams)
All-NBA: 5 (Bogut, Williams, Paul, Bynum, Lee)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 5
Top 10 Flops: 1
Notable 2nd Rounders: 7 (Bass, Miles, Ilyasova, Ellis, Williams, Johnson, Gortat)

Chris Paul could go down as one of the greatest point guards of all time, but this draft has some other great players and a really deep second round.

6.  1997 Draft
Score: 26
1st Pick: Tim Duncan (2.5)
Best Player: Tim Duncan (6)
All Stars: 3 (Billups, Duncan, McGrady)
All-NBA: 3 (Duncan, Billups, McGrady)
HoF: 2 (Duncan, McGrady)
MVP's: 2 (Duncan - 2)
Never Played: 10
Top 10 Flops: 2
Notable 2nd Rounders: 3 (Johnson, Jackson, Williams)

It wasn't a deep draft, but it was the Duncan draft.  McGrady and Billups help too.

5.  2012 Draft
Score: 27.25
1st Pick: Anthony Davis (2.5)
Best Player: Damian Lillard (11)
All Stars: 6 (Beal, Davis, Drummond, Green, Lillard, Middleton)
All-NBA: 5 (Davis, Beal, Lillard, Drummond, Green)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 0
Never Played: 4
Top 10 Flops: 3
Notable 2nd Rounders: 4 (Crowder, Green, Middleton, Barton)

This is an amazing draft class that could end up competing for the top spot before all is said and done.  It's got a star at the top, several stars otherwise that could win an MVP, and a solid group of 2nd rounders.

4.  2009 Draft
Score: 27.625
1st Pick: Blake Griffin (10.5)
Best Player: James Harden (3.5)
All Stars: 6 (Curry, DeRozen, Griffin, Harden, Holiday, Teague)
All-NBA: 4 (Griffin, Harden, Curry, DeRozen)
HoF: 0
MVP's: 3 (Curry - 2, Harden)
Never Played: 10
Top 10 Flops: 3
Notable 2nd Rounders: 7 (Cunningham, Jerebko, Meeks, Beverly, Thornton, Green, Mills)

Steph Curry and James Harden.  That makes this class special.  Add in a strong 2nd round and many other recognizable names, this class is an all-time great.

3.  1992 Draft
Score: 28.625
1st Pick: Shaquille O'Neal (4)
Best Player: Shaquille O'Neal (8.5)
All Stars: 5 (Gugliotta, Laettner, Mourning, O'Neal, Sprewell)
All-NBA: 3 (O'Neal, Mourning, Sprewell)
HoF: 2 (O'Neal, Mourning)
MVP's: 1 (O'Neal)
Never Played: 6
Top 10 Flops: 1
Notable 2nd Rounders: 3 (Brown, Jones, Geiger)

The Shaq draft.  He alone makes this draft noteworthy, Add in guys like Zo, and this is a great star-studded class.

2.  2003 Draft
Score: 35.375
1st Pick: LeBron James (1)
Best Player: JeBron James (1.5)
All Stars: 9 (Anthony, Bosh, Howard, James, Kaman, Korver, Wade, West, Williams)
All-NBA: 4 (James, Anthony, Wade, Bosh)
HoF: 1 (Bosh)
MVP's: 4 (James - 4)
Never Played: 11
Top 10 Flops: 4
Notable 2nd Rounders: 7 (Blake, Pachulia, Bogans, Bonner, Williams, Jones, Korver)

As the elite in this draft class continue to age out of the league and look towards the Hall of Fame (already have one, probably will have at least three more), there is a chance they eventually end up #1.

1.  1996 Draft
Score: 36.5
1st Pick: Allen Iverson (13)
Best Player: Kobe Bryant (15)
All Stars: 10 (Adbur-Rahim, Allen, Bryant, Ilgauskas, Iverson, Marbury, Nash, O'Neal, Stojakovic, Walker)
All-NBA: 7 (Iverson, Marbury, Allen, Bryant, Stojakovic, Nash, O'Neal)
HoF: 4 (Iverson, Allen, Bryant, Nash)
MVP's: 4 (Bryant, Nash - 2, Iverson)
Never Played: 11
Top 10 Flops: 1
Notable 2nd Rounders: 4 (Harrington, McInnis, Rose, Anderson)

And still ... greatest draft class of all time.  This is by far the deepest class of elite players.  Three different MVP's (only two other classes have two).  Only class with double digit All Stars.  Most All-NBA players.  Only class with more the two Hall of Famers.  With that said, Win Shares doesn't seem to like Iverson and Kobe that much.  In 10 years, 2003 might eventually take the title, but this will always be my favorite draft class.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

2021 Pre-Season Profile: St. Louis Cardinals

 #1
The St. Louis Cardinals pulled off a blockbuster trade to man the hot corner for the foreseeable future.  Is that enough to get this back to elite?

#11 - 2nd in NL Central
MIH - Paul Goldschmidt
MIP - Miles Mikolas
PTW - Dylan Carlson

2020 Results
#12 - 30-28, 2nd in NL Central, lost in Wild Card Round
The Cardinals had a typical Cardinals season.  They were quiet enough that many people forgot about them, but they were still good enough to make the postseason and almost spoil the magical Padres in the Wild Card Round.  They were led in 2020 by Paul Goldschmidt, possibly the quietest of all of baseball's superstars, which makes him the perfect star for St. Louis.

Additions / Subtractions
The Cardinals really only made one move over the offseason, but it was a big one.  They pulled off the blockbuster trade that sent them third baseman Nolan Arenado from Colorado.  Outside of letting second baseman Kolten Wong sign with Milwaukee and trading outfielder Dexter Fowler to the Angels, the Cardinals didn't do much else other than get healthy.

Most Important Hitter
Paul DeJong
Entering his 5th season as the starting shortstop in St. Louis, Paul DeJong got out to a hot start to his career, finishing 2nd in Rookie of the Year in 2017 and making his first All Star Team in 2019.  However, 2020 proved to be a struggle for DeJong.  If the Cardinals are going to have a dangerous and deep lineup, they need DeJong to bounce back and show he can get back to that All Star level.

Most Important Pitcher
Jack Flaherty
In 2020, Adam Wainwright emerged as the go to ace of the Cardinals' staff.  With Wainwright entering his age 39 season, he can't really be counted on to be that good again in 2021.  That means it is time for Jack Flaherty to emerge as the consistent dominant ace the Cardinals need.  He was outstanding in 2019, finishing in the top 5 in Cy Young voting, but 2020 was a struggle.  With some of the injuries the Cardinals are facing in their rotation to start the season, the 25 year old Flaherty needs to be one of the best pitchers in baseball, which is not a stretch considering his how good he has shown he can be.

Prospect to Watch
Dylan Carlson
When the Cardinals traded Dexter Fowler, they were basically announcing that the outfield would be super young and athletic.  Harrison Bader and Tyler O'Neill can be expected to be out there every day, but the best of the group might be Dylan Carlson.  Ranked the 14th best prospect in baseball, Carlson played in 35 games in 2020 with little success, but the Cardinals believe in him, and his tools show that he can be a star.

2021 Prediction
1st in NL Central, win World Series
Here are my World Series champions!  It is definitely an outside-the-box pick, but with the way the Cardinals always find a way to be better than anyone realized, and the add of Arenado, this team is going to surprise everyone.  Arenado and Goldschmidt are the perfect superstars to play in St. Louis, and they are going to become one of the best combos in any lineup in the league.  Every few years, the Cardinals emerge as one of the best teams in baseball, and they are due.  Also, can you imagine the storylines of a Tony La Russa vs. the Cardinals World Series?  And a World Series win would almost certainly send Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright off into retirement on top.  Perfect!

Fearless Prediction
Jack Flaherty wins the NL Cy Young Award.
Like I said, Jack Flaherty has the capability to be one of the best pitchers in baseball.  He is going to be the surprising star everybody knows from this team by the end of the season.  A Cy Young and a World Series ... sounds like a successful season to me.


2021 Pre-Season Profile: Chicago White Sox

 #2
The Chicago White Sox have some of the most exciting young talent in the league.  Can a strong offseason turn a playoff appearance last season into a deep postseason run in 2021?

#15 - 2nd in AL Central
MIH - Eloy Jimenez
MIP - Lucas Giolito
PTW - Luis Robert

2020 Results
#8 - 35-25, 2nd in AL Central, lost in Wild Card Round
The Chicago White Sox continued to grow in 2020 as their young roster cracked the postseason.  The season was highlighted by the play of first baseman Jose Abreu who won the AL MVP.  They may not have advanced past the first round, it was an encouraging step in the right direction for this team that is starting to see the fruits of a rebuild that started a few years ago with the trade of Chris Sale.

Additions / Subtractions
The White Sox had one of the most active and fascinating offseasons leading into 2021.  They updraded their rotation by trading for Lance Lynn from Texas.  They upgraded their bullpen by signing one of the best closers in the league in Liam Hendriks.  They added some veteran leadership to their lineup by signing former White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton.  Then came one of the most talked about moves of the winter in the hiring of 76 year old Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa after a decade of retirement.

Most Important Hitter
Yoan Moncada
Yoan Moncada broke out in 2019 with a stellar season, hitting .315 with 25 homers and finishing with a career high 139 OPS+.  He followed that up in 2020 with a rough season, only hitting .225 and a 93 OPS+.  Especially with the injury to budding star Eloy Jimenez who will most of the season, Moncada needs a bounce back season to add depth to this lineup.

Most Important Pitcher
Dallas Keuchel
Back in 2015, Dallas Keuchel won a Cy Young for the Astros.  After that season, he had varying success from 2016-2019 before signing with the White Sox leading into 2020.  Last season, Keuchel was outstanding and made a great 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation with Lucas Giolito.  Now he needs to repeat that success of last season.  If he does, this rotation could be really good with Giolito at the top, Lance Lynn and Keuchel as the veteran 2-3, and the young phenoms filling up the back half.

Prospect to Watch
Nick Madrigal
The White Sox have 4 prospects in baseball's Top 100 Prospects, all of which will have opportunities to make a big impact on the big league roster.  #13 prospect Matthew Vaughn will get at bats to start the season to try and fill the hole left by Eloy Jimenez, while #18 Michael Kopech and #89 Garrett Crochet have already seen the big leagues and will look to help either in the rotation or bullpen as they are two of the hardest throwers around.  The player that will have the most opportunities to have a big year is second baseman Nick Madrigal.  The 36th best prospect in baseball, Madrigal may be small at 5'8" but he knows how to hit.  He got in 29 games last season and hit .340 in that time.  He will start Opening Day at second and looks to be a fixture at the top of their lineup for years to come.

2021 Prediction
1st in AL Central, lose in World Series
This is my team to make the big leap in 2021.  They seem to have a perfect roster to compete deep into the postseason with a great mix of veterans and budding stars both in their lineup and rotation.  The injury to Eloy Jimenez does hurt, but their lineup should be deep enough to absorb that loss.  I also love the addition of Tony La Russa who knows how to win.  Over the last decade, he has been working in front offices around the league so he hasn't just been sitting at home.  He knows the game better than almost anyone, and he will lead this team to new heights.

Fearless Prediction
Tony La Russa wins AL Manager of the Year.
If the White Sox are as good as I think they could be in 2021, this is an obvious win for Tony La Russa.  What a way to make a comeback for the Hall of Famer!