2015 White Sox 2005 Comparison

White SoxEvery year around this time, I compare the Chicago White Sox roster to that of the 2005 World Championship team. Sure, it’s always hard to make an accurate comparison in January because the 2005 team wasn’t expected to be very good until everyone saw that they were.

Former left fielder Scott Podsednik mentions in the commemorative World Series DVD that the Sox were projected to finish in 4th place in the American League Central division in 2005. But what fun is it to make such a comparison once the season is already underway? It will be much more satisfying in October to look back and say “Hey, I told you that Conor Gillaspie was gonna be the next Joe Crede!”

Let’s start with the pitching rotation since the pitching rotation is what carried the 2005 team to the World Series from day one. In 2005, it was Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, Jose Contreras, Jon Garland, and Orlando Hernandez. Four of those guys won at least 14 games and had ERAs in the 3s. It is very unlikely for this year’s team to match that. I consider Chris Sale, Jeff Samardzija, and Jose Quintana all capable of winning 14 games, but still that would not match the 2005 staff.

Much like the starting rotation, the bullpen was dominant in 2005. It was so dominant, in fact, that it was able to go through three different closers (Shingo Takatsu, Dustin Hermanson, and Bobby Jenks) without skipping a beat. Multiple relievers had career years in 2005. Cliff Politte and Neal Cotts combined to go 11-1 with an ERA under 2.00.

The 2015 bullpen looks to be much improved from a year ago – but again – the 2005 bullpen will be hard to match. If David Robertson closes games like he did last year, and newly-acquired left-handers Zach Duke and Dan Jennings also repeat their 2014 efforts, then the Sox will have a very good bullpen. 2005 good, though? Probably not.

Now it’s time to go out on a ledge. Here is my bold prediction for the 2015 season – This year’s offense will be better than the 2005 offense. There, I said it. Maybe the 2015 lineup wont come up with as many clutch base hits as the 2005 lineup did; but from strictly a statistical standpoint, I think these Sox can top those Sox. The team’s best offensive player in 2005 was Paul Konerko. Pauly hit .283 with exactly 40 HR and 100 RBI that year. Jose Abreu is currently the team’s best hitter. In his rookie season last year, he hit .317 with 36 HR and 107 RBI. Those numbers are pretty comparable to Pauly’s numbers in 2005, and it’s logical to believe that Abreu can at the very least have a repeat performance of last year. Certainly, the 2005 team had many contributors other than Konerko.

Right fielder Jermaine Dye had 31 HR and 86 RBI and designated hitter Carl Everett hit 23 HR and drove in 87. It would be a lot to ask of Avisail Garcia to match Dye’s numbers, but Adam LaRoche can certainly match Everett’s. Furthermore, Adam Eaton is about as much of a carbon copy of Scott Podsednik as any ballplayer I have ever seen in a White Sox uniform, and starters like Melky Cabrera and Conor Gillaspie I think are very capable of having seasons like Aaron Rowand and Joe Crede did ten years ago.

All in all, despite what I expect out of the offense this year, I still don’t expect the Sox to win 99 games in 2015. In fact, I will be more than happy with 90 wins. Let’s not forget that the Sox have averaged just 68 wins the past two seasons, and let’s not forget that 99 wins is an astonishing amount (36 games over .500 to be exact). I am thinking that the Sox end up with somewhere between 85-90 wins this year. We may never see a season like 2005 ever again. After all, we hadn’t seen one since 1917 before then; but my goal in making an annual comparison is to properly gauge exactly how excited I should be for the upcoming campaign. I think it’s safe to say that I haven’t been this excited since 2006.

Finally, here is a position-by-position breakdown of how the Sox projected 2015 Opening Day roster compared to the 2005 team. At which positions do you think this year’s team will be better, or worse, than 2005?

SP1: Chris Sale – Mark Buehrle

SP2: Jeff Samardzija – Freddy Garcia

SP3: Jose Quintana – Jose Contreras

SP4: John Danks – Jon Garland

SP5: Hector Noesi – Orlando Hernandez

C: Tyler Flowers – A.J. Pierzynski

1B: Jose Abreu – Paul Konerko

2B: Emilio Bonifacio – Tadahito Iguchi

3B: Conor Gillaspie – Joe Crede

SS: Alexei Ramirez – Juan Uribe

LF: Melky Cabrera – Aaron Rowand

CF: Adam Eaton – Scott Podnednik

RF: Avisail Garcia – Jermaine Dye

DH: Adam LaRoche – Carl Everett

RRP1: Jake Petricka – Cliff Politte

RRP2: Zach Putnam – Dustin Hermanson

LRP1: Zach Duke – Damaso Marte

LRP2: Dan Jennings – Neal Cotts

CP: David Robertson – Bobby Jenks