The Chicago White Sox were a bit below average last season finishing with 76 wins ahead of only two teams in the American League. The front office decided to make moves this offseason to switch things up and acquired Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie, Austin Jackson and Alex Avila. On that list are plenty of solid pick-ups who will start and have a good shot at changing the culture for the better. Many would argue that the White Sox already have the superstars to build around in Chris Sale and Jose Abreu, not to mention a stud closer in David Robertson and several other very good pieces. Perhaps this new crop is exactly what the south side Chicago team needs to get themselves over the hump in a tough AL Central.
Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie, Austin Jackson, Alex Avila, Dioner Navarro, Hector Sanchez, Tommy Kahnle, Jerry Sands, Steve Lombardozzi, Andy Parrino, Daniel Fields, Scott Hairston, Matt Purke, Phillippe Aumont, Matt Lollis, Josh Wall, Will Lamb
Jeff Samardzija, Geovany Soto, Tyler Flowers, Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham, Micah Johnson, Trayce Thompson, Frankie Montas, Zack Erwin, JB Wendelken
Biggest Strength - Offense
During the offseason, the White Sox picked up a couple of solid pieces in Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie to add to a lineup that was already pretty good. They are actually one of very few team who seem like they have prototypical guys to hit in each spot through the first half of the lineup. Because of this, guys like Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera, who will likely hit first and second, should score a whole bunch of runs with Jose Abreu and company hitting right behind them. Towards the back end of the lineup, there aren't any weaknesses either. Solid all around players like Avisail Garcia, Jimmy Rollins, Austin Jackson, and Alex Avila will usually bring up the rear at least at the begining of the season - three out of those guys are former all-stars. This lineup should consistently put up a lot of runs throughout the season and they will be particularly scary if last year truly was a down year for their superstar Jose Abreu.
Biggest Weakness - Depth
Chicago has some great starters, but the depth that the organization provides is lackluster and it could cause problems throughout the year if there are any injury issues with the team. There are a few guys who are legitimate prospects in shortstop Tim Anderson and starting pitcher Carson Fulmer, but other than that there aren't a lot of guys with any hype. Aside from hype, the bench options and bevy of pitching options should have White Sox fans hoping that the trainer has these guys healthy all season long. You take away Jose Abreu, Todd Frazier, Adam Eaton and Chris Sale and replace them with Travis Ishikawa, Matt Davidson, JB Shuck and Erik Johnson respectively and the team is all of a sudden one of the worst in the American League. They have some work to do to bolster up their organization and it could easily cost them over the course of the season.
Something To Keep An Eye On - Shortstop
The Sox wisely picked up veteran Jimmy Rollins to be a place holder at the shortstop position this season, and he actually could still have some production left in him. A month before he got signed it looked like the team was going to go with non-hyped up prospects Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez for the job. These guys don't have a track record of being offensive threats and meerly look like serviceable options with little to no upside. The good news for Chicago fans is that looming in the minors is Tim Anderson. While Anderson apparently isn't ready with the glove yet, he appears to be the shortstop of the future. His main tool is his speed and he stole over 50 bases last season while putting up above average on base numbers. While the top of the lineup looks pretty solid with Adam Eaton there, if and when Anderson gets the call this season, he could be a great option to hit 9th as that secondary leadoff guy with great speed.
Projected Lineup… Lefties*… Switch Hitters^
- Adam Eaton* - RF
- Melky Cabrera^ - LF
- Jose Abreu - 1B
- Todd Frazier - 3B
- Brett Lawrie - 2B
- Avisail Garcia - DH
- Jimmy Rollins^ - SS
- Alex Avila* - C
- Austin Jackson - CF
Dioner Navarro^, Jerry Sands, Tyler Saladino, JB Shuck*
Projected Rotation… Lefties*
- Chris Sale*
- Jose Quintana*
- Carlos Rodon*
- John Danks*
- Mat Latos
David Robertson - Closer, Nate Jones, Matt Albers, Zach Duke*, Jake Petricka, Dan Jennings*, Zach Putnam
Fantasy Bargain - Adam Eaton
When you hit leadoff for one of the better offensive teams in the league, there is definite fantasy vaule to be had with you. Adam Eaton does just that, and he seems to get overlooked just because he doesn't typically put up huge numbers in the home run and stolen base categories. What he does do is get on base with the best of them in the league. Eaton has posted an on base percentage over .360 in each of the past two seasons and his track record before that shows that he's actually capable of better. He even brought his home run total up to 14 out of nowhere last year so he could be developing some power. He also steals bases, approaching 20 pretty much every season where he gets full playing time. Overall, now that the White Sox have bolstered their offense a bit, this looks like the type of guy who should be a lock for 100 runs scored, and he might even have a shot to be a top 5 run scorer in the league. In the middle rounds, when you need an outfielder, do not shy away from Eaton.
Overrated Fantasy Option - Todd Frazier
On the other end of the fantasy scale from Eaton, we have Todd Frazier. People seem to be crazy about Frazier since he exploded and hit 35 homers last season. What they might be choosing to ignore is that he was pretty bad in the second half of the season, and belongs in the category of guys who sacrifice big chunks of on base percentage in order to bolster power numbers. Frazier's track record suggests that we should expect a home run total in the high 20's and an on base percentage around .310 which is well below average. Truth is, Frazier is probably less valuable than Eaton numbers wise, but is getting taken about 50 spots higher on average. Do keep in mind that third base is a bit scarce this year, so there is a little increased value there.
The Sox look better this year. They fixed their bullpen last season with guys like Robertson and Duke, and this year the lineup got a lot more attention. The pitching rotation still looks about average, but very good at the very top with Chris Sale who many experts are picking for Cy Young this season. The American League is tough right now since it seems like everyone is trying to win right now. Even with the improvements the White Sox made, there are several teams in their own division who probably improved themselves more. Overall, Chicago should play about .500 ball this year and win around 81 games and miss the playoffs.