Coming off of a season where they were one of the worst teams in the league both in terms of fantasy value and more importantly, wins and losses, the Chicago White Sox apparently decided it was time for a revamp in the off-season.
With a strong infusion of youth, the White Sox will be interesting to watch all season, if nothing else. But, will an interesting team translate to a good one, or one with a lot of fantasy value?
Projected 2014 White Sox Offense
|1. Adam Eaton||CF||25||L||500||78||7||54||24||.268|
|2. Alejandro De Aza||LF||30||L||570||84||13||66||18||.274|
|3. Jose Dariel Abreu||1B||27||R||450||73||22||80||7||.273|
|4. Adam Dunn||DH||34||L||520||62||30||91||1||.212|
|5. Avisail Garcia||RF||23||R||500||70||16||68||10||.276|
|6. Alexei Ramirez||SS||32||R||590||62||10||56||21||.278|
|7. Gordon Beckham||2B||27||R||425||47||8||38||6||.252|
|8. Matt Davidson||3B||23||R||270||30||8||31||2||.241|
|9. Tyler Flowers||C||28||R||260||21||7||24||1||.215|
- Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Ramirez is the only sure thing, though anyone else in the Top-6 of the order has strong potential.
Now, Alexei Ramirez is not Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, or Jose Reyes. Those players are all superstars, or at least bring that potential. What makes Ramirez work is that he’s dependable, and dependable at a bad position. If his spot in the lineup changes, it’s most likely going to be up to one of the top two spots, which will only bolster his value.
The rest of the team is where it gets interesting. Adam Eaton, Alejandro De Aza, Jose Abreu, Adam Dunn, and Avisail Garcia all have potential to be big fantasy contributors, at least in a category or two. But I have some concerns.
- Playing Time: Remember, Dayan Viciedo has been more than competent in his time in the Majors. He’s also only 25. He doesn’t fit the typical description of a fourth outfielder who pinch hits and spot starts. They can certainly make a trade but as of now, that hasn’t happened. The same things makes me worry about Dunn and Abreu, specifically Dunn. Remember, the South Siders brought Paul Konerko back. Now, he does fit the spot starer/pinch hit model a little more than Viciedo, but if either of those two struggle, I can see Konerko taking significant playing time away. Again, especially from Dunn.
- Batting Order: There are a lot of ways that order can go. If they stick to the lineup I posted above, I like all six of these guys. But what if Ramirez is moved up? What if Dunn is moved down? There’s not one real obvious way to order these nine guys.
- The Unknown: Big time concern for Eaton, Abreu, and Garcia. We really don’t know what these guys offer as full-time Major League players. We hear things about what they can do. We see what they’ve done in the minors. We just don’t know what they’ll bring playing a full slate. So, if they struggle early, their playing time and spot in the batting order will suffer, at least potentially.
Projected 2014 White Sox Pitching
- Crackerjack Fantasy Options: All listed
I actually think that Jose Quintana has been an underrated pitcher for the last few years. I don’t think he’s ever going to be an ace or anything like that, but he’s been pretty reliable over the last few years. I can say with some confidence that he’ll be a guy that you should have on your roster in most leagues, even if you don’t want to start him against the top teams.
Chris Sale is one of the best in the game. If you told me that you won a championship with him as your best pitcher, it wouldn’t surprise me at all. Expect more great things from him.
We’ll get to Erik Johnson in a little bit. In trading Addison Reed, the Sox made Nate Jones their full time closer and I like the decision. He had a rough ERA last year, but allowed hits and walks at a lower rate than in 2012. His WHIP would have likely been too high for much MRI value but as a closer, I like Jones a lot.
Click here for a more detailed look at the Sox closer situation.
- Fantasy Star: Chris Sale
It wouldn’t normally be a pitcher here. But as we went over earlier, the White Sox hitters that would normally go here have some questions around them. As we also went over earlier, Sale has been an unquestioned stud since becoming a starter in 2012. See for yourself.
He’ll also be 25 on Opening Day, meaning he’s more likely to get better than worse.
I don’t have any big questions about Chris Sale, and he’s one of the best in the game. Again, the fantasy star of most teams will not be a pitcher. In this case, it is and it’s not that close.
- Fantasy Busts: Dunn and Eaton
I almost didn’t include Dunn here. When you bring Adam Dunn to your fantasy team, you know that he’ll bring power and nothing else and that you’ll have to work around a .220 average — in a good season. The problem here is that with the addition of Jose Abreu and re-signing Paul Konerko, Dunn is going to lose at-bats. Dunn needs to belt 35 plus home runs to have any real fantasy value, and I doubt that he’ll get those at-bats.
As for Adam Eaton…We went over it above, but there’s a great unknown about him. If you add up what he did in 2012 and 2013 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, it equals barely over a half year’s worth of MLB service.
Eaton’s Minor League batting average was a whopping .348, but he never had more than 10 homers in a season there. I think the tendency will be for owners to look for the new young stud and overvalue Eaton, which considering all of that and the potential OF logjam, will be a mistake.
I don’t think he’s a bad player by any means, but I don’t know how much value he’ll bring your fantasy team, especially early in the season. I’d say Eaton will emerge as a valuable fantasy player in 2015, but don’t buy his stock in 2014. He’s still a little raw and one-dimensional for my liking.
- Prospect Watch: Erik Johnson
There are times when it’s best to just shut up and let the numbers do the talking. That’s exactly what we’re going to do with Erik Johnson.
Erik Johnson: Minor League Stats
I’m not saying that Johnson will be that dominant in the majors. But I will say that the numbers above are relatively conservative, and not at all bad for a 24-year-old. Johnson will have a spot in the Sox rotation as long as he stays healthy, and I’m expecting a big rookie year from him in 2014.
I should also mention 3B Matt Davidson and C Josh Phegley, who are both likely to log significant major league time in 2014. Unfortunately, I don’t see them providing a lot of fantasy value, especially at those two positions.
- Fantasy Sleeper: Avisail Garcia
I try really hard to avoid hype and be aware of people speaking in hyperbole, or over-exaggerating. But when I hear people say that Avisail Garcia reminds them of a young Miguel Cabrera, I can’t help but get a little excited.
The fact of the matter is that Garcia hit .379 in the minors in 2013 with seven homers in 198 at-bats, which translates into about 17 homers over 500 at-bats. He’s also shown an ability to steal 15-20 bags a season, and wont even turn 23 until June.
US Cellular Field is one of the better hitter’s parks in the league, and Garcia should be batting somewhere in the 3-5 spots of the Sox order. His numbers won’t actually mirror Miggy’s, but I’m really excited about Garcia’s potential to be a big fantasy contributor.
- Final Thoughts:
Two words: Guardedly optimistic.
The White Sox have a lot of talent. Unfortunately, a lot of it is unproven at the Major League level, and our tendency in fantasy baseball is to get a little too gaga over the young studs, especially considering what guys like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Jose Fernandez, and Yasiel Puig have done over the last few years.
At the very least, it will be a lot of fun to see how these guys develop over the course of the season. Other than Sale and probably Ramirez, I wouldn’t rank any White Sox players as Top-10 at their position. But there is seriously a ton of potential brewing with this team.