Cubs: Starlin Castro (.292/.339/.438+ 14 HR, All-Star in 2014)
White Sox: Alexei Ramirez (.273/.305/.408+ 15 HR, 21 SB, All-Star, Silver Slugger in 2014)
Analysis: Another battle between two good players. Castro and Ramirez were both all-stars in 2014, and both were staples for their respective teams in 2014. Also, both were on the trade block this season, potentially giving way to younger replacements (Castro to Baez and Ramirez to Marcus Semien), but both ended their seasons in Chicago and both are expected to start 2015 there as well. Ramirez had a really nice season in 2014, being an All-Star and taking home a Silver Slugger, and at 33 years old it’s a bit more impressive. Castro had a bounce-back season from his down 2013 where he slashed .245/.284/.347, and it came as a relief to Cubs fans to see him back, or at least closer to his first 3 seasons, 2 of which he was an All-Star again (2011,2012). It seems likely that Castro will continue on the path he’s on towards being a .300 hitter who can steal 15-20 bags as well. Castro and Baez could shape up as one of the best combos up the middle in baseball very soon.
Alexei had a nice season, but it was his only really above average season since 2008 when his line was .290/.317/.475 and he hit 21 home runs. Plus, at 33, it wouldn’t be sensible to expect Alexei to go above and beyond expectations again. Meanwhile, Castro will be only 25 by the time Spring Training rolls around, and has already been an All-Star three out of his five seasons in the majors. To go with that, Castro still has more potential to show the baseball world, and he made a statement in 2014 by showing that he wasn’t going to let a disappointing 2013 bother him, and came out and impressed in 2014. Until Tim Anderson arrives for the Southsiders, the Cubs have the advantage here.