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White Sox 2021 AL Central MLB odds: Eloy Jimenez injury lowers Chicago's chances to win division by 6 percent via SportsLine Projection Model

The Chicago White Sox have lost young slugger Eloy Jimenez for 5-6 months, and the SportsLine Projection Model has downgraded the Pale Hose across the board.
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This writer is a Chicago White Sox fan, and it's known to everyone but apparently the White Sox brass that Eloy Jimenez is a designated hitter only. Jimenez is a terrific young hitter, but he simply should not be playing left field because he is terrible out there and injures himself too often. Unfortunately, the Pale Hose will be without Jimenez for 5-6 months, which is most if not all of the regular season, due to an injury playing the outfield this week, and the SportsLine Projection Model has downgraded the South Siders across the board.

During a Cactus League game Wednesday vs. Oakland, Jimenez injured his left shoulder when he tried to make a leaping grab at the wall on Sean Murphy's solo homer. It looked bad right away as Jimenez left arm barely moved as he walked off the field with a trainer. On Thursday, the diagnosis was a ruptured left pectoral tendon.

In 122 games as a rookie in 2019, Jimenez hit .267 with 31 homers and 79 RBIs. Last year in 55 games, he hit .296 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs. Jimenez had the fourth-highest barrel rate in MLB in 2020 (i.e., he hit the ball hard often), doing so in 11.5 percent of plate appearances.

For this season, William Hill Sportsbook had given Jimenez Over/Under totals of 36.5 homers and 107.5 RBIs. The 24-year-old Dominican was +1600 to lead the majors in RBIs, +1800 to leads in homers and +3000 to win AL MVP – teammate Jose Abreu was the 2020 AL MVP in the shortened season and led the majors with 60 RBIs.

Baseball Reference projected Jimenez, who was likely to bat fifth, to hit 31 homers and knock in 88 in 2021, so it's a big loss in the lineup. GM Rick Hahn said one internal option is having highly-touted prospect Andrew Vaughn, who is a first baseman/DH type, playing left field – Vaughn is set to make is first spring start in left Friday. The Jimenez injury all but assures that Vaughn will make the big club out of spring camp, although the Sox already had said they would not send him down solely for service-time reasons.

Chicago was in position to finish with the AL's best record last year before a late fade, and then the White Sox blew a 1-0 series lead in the wild-card round and lost to Oakland. Expectations are sky high this year with the additions of Hall of Famer manager Tony La Russa, starting pitcher Lance Lynn, closer Liam Hendricks and outfielder Adam Eaton.

William Hill has the Sox as -125 favorites to win the AL Central, +375 second favorites to the Yankees (+240) for the pennant and +1000 to win the World Series. Those numbers haven't changed yet, presumably because Jimenez will be back for the stretch run, but Chicago's Over/Under win total has dropped from 90.5 to 89.5.

The SportsLine Projection Model has dropped the White Sox from 89.1 wins to 87.5 – which still may be enough to win the weak AL Central. However, the Sox's division title chances dropped from 31 percent to 25.1 and their playoff chances from 85.9 percent to 80.1. Chicago's pennant and World Series chances were largely unchanged. 

The White Sox open the season next Thursday at AL MVP favorite Mike Trout and the Angels. 

WHITE SOX                       WIN      WIN%        DIVISION      PLAYOFF      LCS           WS
Before Injury 89.1 55.00% 31.00% 85.90% 10.70% 3.90%
Jimenez Out 5-6 Mo 87.5 54.00% 25.10% 80.10% 10.00% 3.80%
IMPACT -1.6 -1.00% -5.90% -5.80% -0.70% -0.10%

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