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The Blutarskys: White Sox’ 0.0-percent playoff chances serving as springtime bulletin-board material

Vinnie Duber Avatar
February 20, 2024
Chicago White Sox

PHOENIX — When the faceless computer simulations that tabulate the PECOTA projections crunched the numbers on the 2024 White Sox, they spit out an attention-grabbing number

Yes, the South Siders were given a 0.0-percent chance of reaching the postseason.

Considering that’s the same as the GPA of a certain Jack Daniel’s chugging college student, perhaps we should just call these White Sox “The Blutarksys.”

Normally, it seems there should be little reason that a group of human baseball players should be bothered with the preseason prognostications of an algorithm. But these White Sox have decided to stick that number up on the bulletin board and use it as motivation this spring.

“I don’t really (pay attention to that) until we come out with 0.0-percent chance of making the playoffs. That motivates the heck out of me,” Pedro Grifol said last week. “I know it’s a little bit of a talk in (the clubhouse). This is a division that obviously no one is scheduled to run away with it. Why not us?

“It’s motivating everybody. It’s got to be motivating everybody in the building. If it’s not, you’ve got to check yourself at that door. I don’t know if it’s the right place for you.

”(We’re at) 0.0 percent after turning over a roster the way we’ve turned it over and new front office members and new coaches and new vibe and energy in the work that was done in the offseason?

“It’s good. It’s good to hang up on the wall.”

It might seem a little like grasping at straws, fabricating a reason to get fired up while the fan base yawns in the wake of last season’s 101-loss debacle.

But these White Sox are talking about having a chip on their collective shoulder. Whether it’s computer simulations, the baseball world at large or their own fans assuming there’s little to no chance of seeing much winning this summer, the White Sox are aware of what people think. Their hope is that they can force them to think differently.

“It’s something we are all pretty fixated on, kind of a fresh start,” Michael Kopech said. “There’s not a whole lot of pressure on us because there’s not a whole lot of expectations on us. I think we have the ability to impress a lot easier than people might expect.”

“We talked about the whole zero-percent playoff projection,” Andrew Vaughn said. “I think we can just prove a lot of people wrong this year.”

Certainly the White Sox’ estimations of the AL Central make sense, as no team, not even the reigning-champion Twins, did much to improve during the offseason. The Royals made a lot of moves, but it might not drag them out of the basement.

There’s plenty of reason, though, that staging a surprise seems like a tough ask for this White Sox roster. Grifol’s not wrong in saying that the new-look front office made a lot of changes this winter. But attempting to fix the defense and bringing in guys who can play the new style Grifol is preaching didn’t strike as the sort of big-time change needed to dramatically improve upon 101 losses.

Chris Getz is undeniably trying to give the organization a makeover and a new identity. At this early stage, though, it’s hard to say that will mean a bunch of wins in 2024, instead seeming more of a long-term project.

A lineup that was one of baseball’s least productive a year ago arguably got worse, with Getz’s additions on the position-player side of things focusing on defense and featuring guys who have struggled to hit .200 in recent seasons.

The pitching staff, meanwhile, is full of question marks. And aside from ace Dylan Cease — whose time with the White Sox might not stretch past the trade deadline — it’s a mystery how just about any arm will perform this season.

It all adds up to, well, 0.0.

But Grifol is also correct when he points out there’s a reason they play the games, and the White Sox are hoping that the influx of new faces means enough positive change inside the clubhouse that things start going their way between the lines, as well.

“All I’ve ever known was pennants,” said Michael Soroka, who spent his whole career with the Braves prior to an offseason trade. “We won the division every year since I got called up, which was pretty crazy. And honestly, not a lot of those years were we picked to win the division. I think that was a chip on our shoulder every year over there. We knew what we had. And I think there’s a group of people over here that know this division is wide open and we can go take that.”

It probably all sounds laughable to a majority of White Sox fans, disgruntled and disillusioned after back-to-back massive disappointments. And truthfully, no one should be converted from non-believers to zealots just because of some words from the spring clubhouse.

But hey, no one thought that 0.0 GPA was going to turn into anything, either. Fat, drunk and stupid, after all, is no way to go through life.

And what happened?

Just ask Senator Blutarsky.

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