Following an offseason that was too long and a spring training that was maybe a little too short, the 2022 Major League Baseball regular season is underway. The games count, and teams are vying for a spot in the new 12-team postseason format.
Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff.. This week we're going to discuss a struggling defending division champ.
Are the White Sox still the favorite in the AL Central?
R.J. Anderson: I think so, but I'm concerned -- more so about the injuries they've suffered than their performance to date (though I did not foresee them flirting with the worst run differential in the American League at this point). This isn't a team that has the depth to withstand lengthy absences from key contributors. The Twins also deserve some praise here for fielding a better rotation than anyone expected. We'll see if they can keep it up, but it's fair to say that was their biggest weakness on paper; if it's not actually a weakness, then the AL Central might be theirs to lose.
Mike Axisa: Yeah, I think so. It is a long, long season and I'm not going to bail after three weeks (at this time last year the White Sox were hovering around .500 and dealing with injuries). Every team hits a rough patch at some point. I will say the Twins and Tigers are improved, and the Guardians aren't a pushover, so the AL Central figures to be more competitive this year than last. Chicago's margin of error isn't quite as big. I echo what R.J. said about their depth concerns, though I think that applies to every team in the division. Bumpy start to the season, for sure, but it's not time to revise expectations, I don't think.
Matt Snyder: Yes, they are the favorites. They just went through what will be their worst losing streak of the season and they still sit within relatively easy striking range of first place (they're 2 1/2 games behind the Twins). Let's say every team's true talent level ends up with the White Sox winning the division by something like seven games (that's about how I'd have handicapped it coming into the season). How much would what we've seen in three weeks really alter that? Maybe now we'd say they'll win the division by five or six? To me, the injuries are a lot bigger deal than the losing streak, but Yoan Moncada will be back soon, Lance Lynn isn't a long way away and Eloy Jimenez will be back for the second half. I expect Rick Hahn to be aggressive in trade season as well.
Dayn Perry: Given that I picked the Tigers to win this division, I'll say, no, the White Sox are not the favorites. I don't read too much into early-season struggles, but Chicago's injuries are worrisome. Whoever wins this, baseball's worst division, won't crack 90 wins.