Chicago White Sox- Prediction 83-79
There were not a ton of high hopes for the Chicago White Sox going into the 2012 season but they managed to actually spend most go the year in first before faltering and allowing the Tigers to catch them at the wire. They were overachieving with that roster and the 85 wins they finished with was a good season. Since the season ended the White Sox have parted ways with many players from their 2012 roster like Orlando Hudson, Francisco Liriano, Philip Humber, Brett Myers, Kevin Youkilis and AJ Pierzynski. Most were not impact players but even in a down year, Youkilis provided value and everyone knows the kind of player Pierzynski was to the pitching staff of the White Sox. In return the best player the White Sox have acquired is Jeff Keppinger, so that should frame it for you. What does all this mean? Let’s look into it.
The Chicago White Sox pitching staff was average at best in 2012. They were basically a middle of the road team when you look at the stats; a 19th place position in team ERA, 13th in total runs allowed, 18th in team WHIP, 12th in opposing teams batting average and 10th in strikeouts. Considering those numbers I would have expected some type of free agency push for a pitcher like Kyle Lohse but that has not developed and it appears they are ready to take the roster in place into 2013. Chris Sale (17-8, 3.05 ERA in 2012) will be the unquestionable ace this year and for years to come. He is young with more than one plus pitch and should be expected to contend for near 20 wins in 2013. The White Sox locked up their number two for the next couple of years by signing Peavy to a two year extension. Jake Peavy (11-12, 3.37 ERA in 2012) is a quality pitcher when healthy and that is the big question, can he stay healthy? If he can he is perfectly capable of a 15 win season. John Danks (3-4, 5.70 ERA in 2012) will be back for a full season which bodes well for the rotation. While he is not going to win you 20 games he has the ability to win you 12 games and even more importantly carry the load for 200 innings in a season. Going in the fourth spot in the rotation is a man who is mentioned in trade talks all the time but is still with the White Sox organization. He isn’t flashy but Gavin Floyd (12-11, 4.29 ERA in 2012) is serviceable. He won’t wow you with his stuff but what he will do is give you a chance to win on most days. Expecting an ERA around 4.00 and a .500 record is reasonable. The back end of the rotation is consumed with a man named Jose Quintana (6-6, 3.76 ERA in 2012). It will be interesting to see how he develops in his second year in MLB. Last year he was every part the rookie, he had some outings that looked sensational and some that were just horrific. We will have to see what happens in 2013 but I would assume a step forward and around 12 wins with an ERA just south of 4.00 is reasonable. I think the long pole is life without Pierzynski who was a fixture behind the plate for many seasons. Instead the White Sox staff will be pitching to Tyler Flowers. It is nothing against Flowers but he isn’t AJ so it will be interesting to watch in 2013. This rotation is a good but not great rotation that will rely on some offensive performances to win a bunch of games.
Offensively in 2012, the White Sox were 7th in runs scored, 14th in team batting average, 8th in slugging, 13th in stolen bases and 3rd in home runs. A very solid offensive season turned in from the boys in Chicago. That roster lost Youkilis (who did have a down year) and Pierzynski (who had arguably a career year) which will factor overall. Konerko (26 HR, 75 RBI, .298 BA in 2012) and Dunn (41 HR, 96 RBI in 2012) are year older and they are not spring chickens. They should continue to produce but I guess it is too late to expect Dunn to hit for a little average and strikeout less than 200 times while his 2012 was a nice rebound from a horrible 2011. You get the good and bad with him.
Gordan Becknam needs to show what all the hype was about this year. He is entering year five and it is time to either improve on the career .245 average or hit over 20 home runs. The question is, will he? Even if he doesn’t he is a serviceable second baseman if he can just hit around 15 home runs and bat .245. Alex Rios bounced back in 2012 (25 HR, 95 RBI and .304 BA) from a 2011 season that began to show a decline. It makes you wonder what you will get. Regardless, 20 home runs and hitting around .280 is perfectly reasonable for the right fielder. Dayan Viciedo had a very nice campaign in his first full year with the big club putting up a line of 25 home runs, 78 runs batted in and a .255 average. He should take a step forward in 2013 but he needs to work on plate discipline (28 walks vs. 120 strikeouts) which is not uncommon for a youngster. Another youngster in Alejandro De Aza made an impact when finally getting a full time roll at the highest level. He stole 26 bases in 38 attempts in 2012 A 40 stolen base season is reasonable but he needs to improve on his .349 OBP if he wants to really be a difference maker. Jeff Keppinger will be a nice addition but I am not sold on him as an everyday player which appears to be the White Sox goal with him. For their sake I hope he works out.
The White Sox farm system is not in the best of shape. Sure a couple of the young guys are up with the big club but it appears to be slim pickings overall. Trayce Thompson has power that is showing form in the minors but he desperately needs to learn plate discipline before the big dance. Courtney Hawkins is another intriguing prospect that suffers from Thompson’s affliction when you think of plate discipline. He has a chance to be a put out master with a cannon arm from a corner outfield spot. They are young so there is time. It is just not at a very deep system so the couple that can be great need to pull through. Maybe the new regime can work on that. Overall this team is probably destined to be right around .500 in 2013 with an 83-79 record.
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