The southsiders, despite the fact that they have won a world series more recently than the Cubs, despite the recent run of winning seasons, the ChiSox are still trying to remove themselves from the shadow of the older, more tenured Cubbies. Well from the fantasy world, this team has a plethera of talent. Already one of the more powerful teams in the Junior Circuit, they went out and added Adam Dunn, the most consistent power hitter this side of the Mississippi River (technically St. Louis is on that side, FYI), to add to the power of Konerko and Quentin. Here are the ChiSox:
LF Juan Pierre - There is so much to like about this speedster. His consistency on the basepaths (68 steals last year), his good not great average (.275 last year, career .291 hitter), and that he's at the top of a very powerful line-up. Like I said, a lot to like about him. I have him ranked in the top 30 for outfielders.
CF Alex Rios - The combo of power and speed is exactly why Rios was such a highly sought draft pick in 2002, now that he's in his prime, he's showing why he belongs at the top of the line-up. Have we seen the most of what Rios has to offer? Probably not. I have him ranked in the top 30 for Outfielders.
SS Alexei Ramirez - He has power and some speed, although not the speed that Rios has. He could easily bat 2nd and Rios third, but at this point, this is how I see it going down for now. Ramirez is a source of high strikeouts with low walks, but at the ultra thin shortstop position, his value is really strong. I have Ramirez ranked between 11th and 15th overall for shortstops.
DH Adam Dunn - Last year he hit 35 homeruns at the homer neutral Washington Nationals home park, I fully expect him to return to the 40 to 45 dingers that he was known for when he played for the Reds. Plus hitting in front of at least one power hitter is going to be huge for him, while in Washington he had little protection. While this wont cure him of his strikeouts, and he does walk a lot to offset nearly 60% of those Ks, I have him ranked between 15th and 20th for 1st baseman.
1B Paul Konerko - What a fantastic rebound year, after he had a fantastic rebound year in 2009, he continues to get better. The real question for Konerko is, will he plateau? or will he fall? Because surely he can't get any better than 39 dingers and 111 RBIs and a .312 batting average. He showed emmense power last season, and once again will headline the middle of the line-up. I have Konerko ranked between 10th and 15th.
RF Carlos Quentin - In 2009 he hit over 30 homeruns and lost the last month of the season. Last year, he lost about the same amount of time and had a massively down year with a .245 batting average, 26 dingers and 87 RBIs. Now in 2011, if he can put it all together, play 150 games, what will happen? I expect 32 homeruns, 100+ RBIs, but .275 average at best. The translation puts him in the top 30 for outfielders with the other two he shares the outfield with. Of the three though, he could be the one that busts out.
CA AJ Pierzynski - There are three things that you can count on happening no matter what for the ChiSox, 1) Pierre will steal 50+ bases, 2) Buehrle will pitch in one of the 5 fastest games, 2) Pierzynski will play 120+ games, hit 10 dingers, drive in 60 runs, and will remain unheralded in his efforts. He is one of the most consistent catchers, and while he's on the downside of his career, he's still something that can be counted on, no matter what. I have Pierzynski ranked between 10-15 for CA.
2B Gordon Beckham - Unfortunately for baseball fans everywhere, we were all fooled by the coming of this Beckham. There were three major story lines entering spring training, 1) Jason Heyward's 500 foot blasts, 2) Roy Halladay's adjusting to the National League, and 3) Gordon Beckham and his transition in the infield. He was terrible in the first half, and slightly serviceable in the 2nd half. He finished the year at .252 with 9 dingers, 4 steals, and 49 RBIs in 131 games, a far cry from the 20/20 expectations with 80 RBIs and someone who was going to challenge for batting titles. Well we aren't fooled this year. I have Beckham ranked between 20th and 25th for 2nd baseman and that's saying a lot at the super thin position.
3B Mark Teahan - This is probably the only offensive White Sox player that will go without being drafted, too many people will take a flyer on Beckham, but no one should be fooled by the guy that's probably going to lose his job either out of spring training or shortly after. He can't field, he strikes out too much, and he has no power. I do not have Teahan ranked in the top 30 for 3rd basemen.
#1. Mark Buehrle - Buehrle has become an every other year type pitcher as he ages. You can count on low pitch counts, which should lead to plenty of quality starts, which means that he'll have decisions (wins/losses) in most of his starts. He's highly competitive, and he's good for a web gem or two. He is probably the only #1 starter that has 3 starters better than him, following him. I have Buehrle projected between 325-350 points.
#2. John Danks - 15-11 last year, sub 4 ERA, and 162 K's vs. only 70 walks in 210 innings. Nothing spectacular, nothing crazy here, just very solid. He does it again... I have him projected between 375-400 points.
#3. Gavin Floyd - 10-13 last season in only 187 innings pitched. He is a very streaky pitcher, and oddly enough he's really good against the teams that are playoff contenders. He has let down games against the Royals (6.33 ERA) and the Mariners (5.77 ERA), but put him up against the Red Sox, Yankees, or Rangers (combined 2.96 ERA) and he's a cy young contender. Now it might be a fluke that he posted those numbers last year. He should still put up decent numbers, especially with a 3-1 K's to BBs ratio. I have him projected between 375-400 points.
#4. Edwin Jackson - 151 pitches in a complete game no-hitter, that looked more like an exhibition of wildness. The deal is, that he's not as wild as he seems 78 walks in 210 innings, and he's not as bad as can be at times, sub 3.00 ERA for both July and August. If, and that's a big if, he can post those kinds of numbers consistently throughout the year, then Edwin Jackson can be a solid pitcher. Until then, I can only project him out at 350-375 points.
#5. Jake Peavy - He could be phenomenal, or he could get injured, that's pretty much the depth of what could happen to Mr. Peavy. When he was healthy he was ordinary, but coming back from a shoulder injury is always a tough bag to handle. He could be in-line for a strong year, but spring training injuries might bog my rather optimistic view on him. I have him projected to score 275-300 points.
Closers - Matt Thornton is a strikeout pitcher with control, and that's a great start. Couple that with the ChiSox projected to win 80-85 games, and you are looking at 35-40 saves easily. I have Thornton ranked between 16th and 20th.