Thursday, March 1, 2012

2012 MLB Preview #8: Chicago White Sox

Greetings everyone... Making our way up the AL Central with the Chi-Sox...


C - AJ Pierzynski
1B - Paul Konerko
2B - Gordon Beckham
SS - Alexei Ramirez
3B - Brent Morel
LF - Alejando De Aza/Brent Lillibridge
CF - Alex Rios
RF - Dayan Viciedo/Kosuke Fukudome
DH - Adam Dunn

Well, this is an interesting offense. Adam Dunn was an unmitigated disaster to the point where it may have been the worst drop-off in the history of baseball. Don't believe me? Check out the numbers. In 2010, Adam Dunn hit 38 homers with 103 RBI and a slash line of .260/.356/.536 for an OPS of .892. In 2011, Adam Dunn hit 11 homers with 42 RBI and a slash line of .159/.292/.277 for an OPS of .569. I can't explain to you a better definition of falling off the table, and the worst part is that the peripherals show that he actually wasn't that unlucky. At any rate, he can't possibly be this bad again, but they need the 30-40 homer guy back and I'm not sure he's coming. On a more positive note, Paul Konerko keeps on chugging (.906 OPS in '11), Alexei Ramirez has emerged as an upper-tier shortstop, and AJ Pierzynski is a better-than-average catcher. After that? Question marks abound. Gordon Beckham was one of the bigger disappointments in baseball last year, as the former #8 overall pick hit just .230 with a .633 OPS on the season and really, really struggled to generate anything. Alex Rios is paid handsomely, but is one of the streakier players in the league, and had a miserable season in 2011 posting a .613 OPS and hitting only 10 homers in 537 at-bats. Those two guys need to turn it around (at least to a point) to justify this prediction, and the White Sox will need average play out of the corner outfielders (neither of which have done anything at the major league level) to generate offense if the "stars" fail again. This is certainly not the strength of the 2012 White Sox, but I can't fathom that the Dunn/Beckham/Rios trio could be nearly as bad as 2011.

Starting Rotation

1 - John Danks
2 - Jake Peavy
3 - Gavin Floyd
4 - Philip Humber
5 - Chris Sale

I'm a John Danks fan. He had a rough overall year by his standards in 2011 (4.33 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, only 170 innings), but if you look at the splits, he had a career-high BABIP allowed and an xFIP far lower than his ERA would indicate. All that to say (in baseball nerd terms), he got unlucky in 2011 and I expect it to turn around. Former Cy Young winner Jake Peavy is healthy, and if he stays that way, they'll be pleased with the returns, but the key for me? The 3 through 5. Floyd, Humber, and Sale all have Bill James projections of less than 4.00 ERAs, and Humber/Sale provide a youth infusion while Floyd is yet another guy who got unlucky last year in the peripherals. This isn't a top-5 rotation in the AL, but it's certainly in the upper-half, and if things break right at the top, it could be upper-echelon.


Matt Thornton gets the closer nod finally with the trading of Sergio Santos, and I think he's up for the job. He had a strikeout rate of over 9 last year, and has shown the stuff needed to effectively close. Jesse Crain and Dylan Axelrod both posted sub-3.00 ERAs last year and return to set-up along with lefty specialist Will Ohman. The real key, however? Flame-throwing rookie Addison Reed who struck out 12 in 7.1 innings last year and has 100 MPH power with the fastball. Look for him to get the nod in late-inning, high-leverage spots. Not a bad unit


82-80, 2nd in AL Central

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