Chicago White Sox Predictions
The Chicago White Sox got off to a fast start last season before stumbling down the stretch and allowing the Detroit Tigers to overtake them for the AL Central division title. Still, not many experts picked the White Sox to win 85 games last year, which is precisely what they did. First-year general manager Rick Hahn is hoping that his rotation can out-pitch the rest of the Central this year. He re-signed Jake Peavy, who forms a solid 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation alongside Chris Sale. Hahn is also banking on a healthy return of 2012 Opening Day starter, John Danks.
The lineup lacks dynamic young hitters while continuing to rely on Alex Rios, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko. Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo need to blossom after decent seasons last year, while Tyler Flowers must try and replace the production of the departed A.J. Pierzynski behind the plate. There is a lot that needs to go right for Chicago to improve upon its 85-win season from a year ago. It may be asking too much for a team that was in first place for most of 2012.
Alejandro De Aza (CF) – The leadoff man actually had a higher WAR than Paul Konerko last season. He hit .281 while scoring 81 runs with 26 stolen bases in his first season as a full-time starter.
Jeff Keppinger (3B) – The White Sox signed the third-baseman to a three-year deal this offseason. He hit .325 over 385 at-bats with a Tampa Bay Rays last season and should get closer to 500 at-bats in 2013.
Alex Rios (RF) – After hitting in the fifth and sixth spots last year while having a very productive season, Rios must be moved up to the No. 3 spot in the order. He hit .304 with 25 homers, 91 RBIs, 93 runs scored and 23 stolen bases last season.
Paul Konerko (1B) – Had surgery on his left wrist last season which probably explains why his OPS dropped from .932 at the All-Star break to .771 in the second half. Konerko is still the heart and soul of this team and he remains one of the most underrated players in the league.
Adam Dunn (DH) – Bounced back nicely from a dismal 2011 by hitting 41 homers to go along with 96 RBIs and 87 runs scored. While Dunn hit just .204 with 222 strikeouts last year, the White Sox will clearly take that tradeoff with his power numbers.
Dayan Viciedo (LF) – Had a decent first season last year hitting .255 with 25 homers and 78 RBIs. His 2012 campaign was highlighted by a .289 average with runners in scoring position.
Tyler Flowers (C) – A favorite of teammates and coaches, Flowers is ready to take over the every day role behind the plate after waiting in the wings over the past two seasons behind veteran A.J. Pierzynski. He threw out 33 percent of runners attempting to steal last season.
Gordon Beckham (2B) – Hit .270 as a rookie back in 2009 but his career batting average has shrunk to .245 after three straight sub-par campaigns. Chicago is really going out on a limb in believing that Beckham is still going to blossom into the player it thought he’d become.
Alexei Ramirez (SS) – Hit a career-low nine homers while taking just 14 unintentional walks in 621 plate appearances in 2012. Ramirez had hit at least 15 homers in each season from 2008-11.
Chris Sale (LHP) – After winning 17 games and earning an All-Star spot in his first year as a starter, the White Sox believe Sale is a cornerstone player. He finished 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA while striking out 192 batters over 192 innings in 2012.
Jake Peavy (RHP) – Finished fifth in the AL with 219 innings pitched last year and the White Sox believe he has overcome his injuries. The former Cy Young winner went 11-12 with a 3.37 ERA while striking out 194 batters.
John Danks (LHP) – After signing a $65 million contract a year ago, Danks started just nine games last year before eventually undergoing shoulder surgery. Chicago really need him to earn his contract and return to his 2010 form in which he went 15-11 with a 3.72 ERA.
Gavin Floyd (RHP) – With free agency around the corner, the consistent double-digit winner is certainly a trade candidate. Floyd finished 12-11 with a 4.29 ERA over 29 starters last season.
Jose Quintana (LHP) – One of the biggest surprises on the roster in 2012, Quintana started 22 games while going 6-6 with a 3.76 ERA. He ate up 136.1 innings and figures to get the first shot as the No. 5 starter in the rotation in 2013.
Addison Reed (RHP) – Stephen Strasburg’s old college closer went 29-for-33 in save opportunities in his first season in the role last year. He posted a 4.75 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 55 innings, so by no means does Reed have a stranglehold on this job. However, Matt Thornton (4-10, 3.46 ERA) and Jess Crain (2-3, 2.44 ERA) have been much more effective in their set-up roles, so it would be ideal for Reed to run away with the closer’s job.
2nd Place AL Central & OVER 80.5 Wins – With the return of Danks, the White Sox will push the Tigers for the best rotation in the Central Division. They certainly have the most depth with Sale, Peavy, Danks, Floyd and Quintanilla. The lineup is the only real concern here, but De Aza and Viciedo are coming off solid first seasons, while Rios, Konerko and Dunn continue to produce. This team should come close to matching its 85-win total from last season, but unfortunately that won’t be enough to overtake the Tigers atop this weak division.
|2013 Chicago White Sox Odds|
|Total Regular Season Wins||O80.5 (-115)|