30 Clubs in 30 Days: Chicago White Sox

Posted: February 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

ImageWe kick off the American League Central with the Chicago White Sox, who last won this division in 2008. Chicago, amazingly, has never made the postseason in consecutive years in their 112-year history. They have, however, succeeded tremendously once they get to the big-dance, appearing in 5 World Series (3-2 record). The AL Central is the only division in baseball in which every team has won at least one World Series. The White Sox have the most recent title, when they triumphed over Houston in 2005, 4-0.

Of course, this is 2013, and Chicago is coming off a promising year in which they won 85 games despite a rookie manager and an aging lineup. The team will get an infusion of youth in 2013, as OF Dayan Viciedo and C Tyler Flowers finally step into full time rolls with the club. If the Sox are going to return to the top of the division, they will need their pitching to take them there. A rotation led by Jake Peavy (11-12, 3.37), Chris Sale (17-8, 3.05), and Gavin Floyd (12-11, 4.29) will be infused by the return of John Danks (3-4, 5.70), who missed most of 2012 with shoulder problems.

Five Year Review:
2012: 85-77
2011: 79-83
2010: 88-74
2009: 79-83
2008: 89-74
Lost ALDS to Tampa Bay, 3-1

2012 Team MVP: LHP Chris Sale: A 6’6 southpaw with tremendous stuff, Chris Sale burst onto the scene in 2012 after two strong campaigns out of the bullpen in 2010-11. As a setup man, the 2010 first round pick was at the top of his game, posting a 4-3, 2.58 mark with a 111-37 K-BB ratio. But, injuries and inconsistency from other arms in the rotation forced this former top-prospect into the starting staff. Sale did not disappoint. Prior to making his first All-Star Game, the left-hander was 10-2 with a 2.19 ERA, including back-to-back June starts against lowly Seattle and Houston in which he tossed 17 IP allowing just two ER whilst striking out 15 and walking just two. Sale started to wear down at the end of the season, and his final start against Tampa Bay (3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER) was his worst of the season. There should be valid concern in 2013, however, as Sale had never thrown more than 71.0 IP over his professional career before ballooning to 192.0 last year.

2012 Team LVP: 2B Gordon Beckham: The choice for LVP was down to Beckham and Danks. But, I cannot in good conscience give a player this award due to injury. Beckham, however, further solidified his status as a monumental bust at the major league level with another lowly offensive season. After receiving more hype than a James Cameron movie coming out of college, Beckham has flopped bigger than “Gigli.” His .894 minor league OPS never translated after his rookie year, in which the former Georgia Bulldog hit .270-14-63. Since then, Beckham’s average has dropped precipitously, slumping down to .234 last season. His .694 career OPS puts him on par with such offensive luminaries as Cameron Maybin and Darwin Barney. 

Beckham can still play the field as well as anyone in the sport. But, with so much hype, one would expect his offense to catch up to his glove. So far, that simply has not been the case.

Key Acquisitions:

SS Angel Sanchez (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
3B Jeff Keppinger (Tampa Bay Rays)
RHP Matt Lindstrom (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Key Departures:

C A.J. Pierzynski (Texas Rangers)
2B Orlando Hudson (Unsigned)
2B Jose Lopez (Japan)
3B Kevin Youkilis (New York Yankees)
RHP Brett Myers (Cleveland Indians)
LHP Francisco Liriano (Pittsburgh Pirates)

Projected Lineup/Rotation (w/composite 2013 projections):

CF Alejandro de Aza (.277-11-56)
3B Jeff Keppinger (.290-9-52)
DH Adam Dunn (.218-31-83)
1B Paul Konerko (.287-26-85)
RF Alex Rios (.273-18-73)
LF Dayan Viciedo (.269-22-67)
SS Alexei Ramirez (.275-13-65)
C Tyler Flowers (.220-14-40)
2B Gordon Beckham (.249-13-57)

LHP Chris Sale (12-9, 3.35)
RHP Jake Peavy (10-9, 3.96)
LHP John Danks (9-10, 4.47)
RHP Gavin Floyd (11-11, 4.28)
LHP Jose Quintana (8-8, 4.53)

2013 Outlook:

Many were surprised that first-year manager Robin Ventura led Chicago to an 85-77 record in 2012. The six-win improvement over the year before ultimately did not culminate in a postseason berth. But, it was a good stepping stone when one considers the hurdles that the team had to overcome during the season. Still, it is questionable at best to suggest that they improved during the offseason. Youkilis is gone. As is a strong veteran presence in Pierzynski. Replacing them are Jeff Keppinger and Tyler Flowers, two players who have never been full time MLB starters.

In the rotation, Chicago should benefit from the return of John Danks and his exorbitant contract. A full season of young LHP Jose Quintana should also be interesting. The Sox have young pitching prospects like RHP Andre Rienzo, RHP Simon Castro, and LHP Scott Snodgress who could be ready this season and might see time in the bullpen or rotation. The big key for Chicago will be keeping their top-two healthy. If Jake Peavy and Chris Sale can combine for 400+ innings again, Chicago will be in the race until September. If not, it will be a long summer on the South Side. Due to these question marks, I foresee Chicago winning between 75-81 games and finishing third or lower in the American League Central.


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