Team Ace: Jake Peavy
Most Valuable Position Player: Alex Rios
Breakout Candidate: Dayan Viciedo
Notable Offseason Additions: Jeff Keppinger
Notable Offseason Losses: A.J. Pierzynski, Kevin Youkilis
Biggest Team Weakness: Age and lack of pizzaz
The Chicago White Sox are a veteran ball club with a deteriorating skill set. They haven’t made the post season since 2008, being between 75-85 wins every season since, and they’ll be at the lower end of the spectrum this season, with a less-than-potent offense and average pitching depth.
Alexi Ramirez had a down year in 2012, only walking 16 times compared to 51 times in 2011. He also had a clear drop in power, hitting for single digit homeruns for the first time in his career. Paul Konerko started the season hot, but slowed down significantly after the All Star break for the second year in a row. Adam Dunn re-found his homerun swing but still hit close to .200 for the entire season. The only player still playing at his max potential is outfielder Alex Rios, who’ll be starting his 10th season in the majors.
Replacing A.J. Pierzynsk off his best season with Tyler Flower will be a huge downgrade, even though it does help the team get younger. Jeff Keppinger is also a step down at third base, although his numbers with the Rays last year were surprisingly good.
Jake Peavy had a resurgence in 2012, pitching his lowest ERA and best strikeout numbers over the last 7 seasons, but still has a losing record, and he can easily find himself with an ERA north of 4 this coming season with little run support. The real X-factor of the rotation will be Chris Sale, and if he can repeat what he did when he broke out last season.
The worst part is, this team is boring. Aside from Chris Sale’s huge potential, there aren’t any players that really have a chance to do something unexpected, and none of them are bringing fans into the ballpark alone. Gavin Floyd and John Danks might be the two dullest starters in the league, and the bullpen is in no way a shutdown squad. Would I be surprised if they won 80 again? Definitely not, but I would expect 65-70 wins a little more, with the postseason as an afterthought.