2010 Rewind: The White Sox finished the 2010 season with an 88-74 record, but that was only good enough for a second-place finish in the AL Central, a division they’ve only managed to win twice over the past decade. The team faltered down the stretch with an eight-game losing streak, including a sweep by the rival Detroit Tigers that sealed their fate. The offense produced with four players driving in more than 70 runs, but the pitching did not live up to expectations with the starting rotation finishing eighth in the AL with a 4.26 ERA.
The Good: Outfielder Alex Rios finished with his best season since 2007 as he got it done both in the field and at the plate. The veteran batted .284 with 21 HR, 88 RBI and posted a .457 slugging percentage. Fellow outfielder Juan Pierre posted the fourth-best on-base percentage in the AL a year ago while hitting .275 with 96 runs and a career-high 68 stolen bases. Tall and lanky lefthander Chris Sale jumped from the June draft to the big league roster late in the season and dazzled with his triple-digit heat and great command. The future staff ace will likely start the year in the bullpen and could spell closer Matt Thornton from time to time.
The Bad: The acquisition of starting pitcher Jake Peavy has yet to pan out for the White Sox. Since joining the team during the 2008 season, the righty has only managed to go 10-6 with a 4.41 ERA. He is coming back from shoulder surgery so his status for Opening Day remains up in the air. Carlos Quentin disappointed many in 2010 by failing to hit .250 for the second year in a row. The right fielder has never played in more than 131 games.
Biggest Loss: Veteran sluggers Andruw Jones and Manny Ramirez both departed via free agency. The duo combined to hit 28 homers and drive in 90 runs in 543 at bats a year ago. Neither player proved to be dependable on a consistent basis.
Best Addition: Signing Adam Dunn will more than make up for the loss of power left by the departures of Jones and Ramirez. Dunn will benefit from being in a better lineup and playing his home games at US Celluar Field and that should be enough to put him back over the 40 HR mark and more than capable of driving in 100-plus runs. A move to DH is long overdue for the big guy.
Fantasy Slant: Alexi Ramirez has emerged as one of the best overall shortstops in the American League as he finished 2010 by hitting .282 with 18 HR and 70 RBI. Second baseman Gordon Beckham is a nice bounce-back candidate after a bit of a sophomore slump and provides great value at a thin position. Starters Gavin Floyd, John Danks, and Edwin Jackson all offer nice upside and should be considered solid No. 3 and No. 4 fantasy starting options.
Final Take: Expect the White Sox to stay in the division race once again this year and come close on equaling, if not improving upon their 2010 record. The key is going to be pitching and how much improvement their starters can make in the new season. The AL Central remains a tough division though, so a playoff spot is far from a given…2011 Record: 89-73, second place in AL Central
Fantasy Baseball, MLB