2011 Fantasy outlooks: Chicago White Sox

by | Fantasy Writer
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The White Sox missed out on the playoffs again in 2011, but not for a lack of trying. A midseason hot streak compelled them to retool for the stretch run, mortgaging part of their future for what ultimately amounted to a distant second-place finish.

The main casualty was top prospect Daniel Hudson, who looked overmatched in a brief trial with the White Sox but pitched like a stud in Arizona over the final two months. If the deal didn't fetch another promising starter in Edwin Jackson, it might already be known as one of general manager Kenny Williams' worst.

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Really, it was in line with Williams' usual strategy of building a winner from outside the organization. The big acquisition this offseason was Adam Dunn, whose power and patience immediately make him the most feared hitter in the lineup. Gone is closer Bobby Jenks, but his departure could be an addition by subtraction given the way left-handers Matt Thornton and Chris Sale pitched last year. The White Sox do have one home-grown talent in Brent Morel, who stands to take over at third base. What he lacks in home-run power he'll make up for in stability.

But more than any acquisition, the White Sox could use a return to form from their franchise players, especially since they can't necessarily expect Paul Konerko and Alex Rios to repeat their big seasons of a year ago. Will Gordon Beckham rebound from his sophomore slump and live up to his elite potential? Will Gavin Floyd learn to make the most of his top-of-the-rotation stuff? Will Carlos Quentin ever get back to playing the way he did in 2008?

With so much uncertainty, the White Sox should attract plenty of attention -- for better or worse -- in the middle rounds of Fantasy drafts.

Breakout ... Edwin Jackson, SP

Didn't Jackson break out two years ago for the Tigers? Sort of, but he demonstrated an incomplete mastery of his stuff with his poor performance in the second half that year and subsequent dysfunction in Arizona last year. No, the real breakout didn't come until the White Sox acquired him at the deadline last year and turned pitching guru Don Cooper loose on him. Cooper immediately identified Jackson was collapsing his delivery, causing his stuff to flatten and his walk and hit rates to rise. With a slight adjustment, Jackson instantly became a different pitcher, striking out more than a batter per inning and cutting his walk rate in half. He has always had ace stuff and now has the guidance to make the most of it, making that first half in Detroit the starting point of where he can go. Last year's numbers make him a No. 4 starting pitcher in Fantasy, but he could perform like a No. 2.

Bust ... Alexei Ramirez, SS

Paul Konerko and Juan Pierre are the obvious choices here as players on the wrong side of 32 coming off resurgent seasons, but Fantasy owners are generally smart enough to downgrade them on their own. Ramirez, for some reason, has people convinced he's on the verge of revolutionizing a historically weak position. At age 29, he's more or less a finished product, and he has yet to produce an .800 OPS or a .340 on-base percentage. And for all the talk of his power-speed combination, he hasn't come close to a 20-20 season, only once reaching 20 in either of those categories over three seasons. He's more of a 15-15 threat, which is still uncommon for a shortstop but, given his lack of plate discipline, doesn't put him as far ahead of Alex Gonzalez and Ian Desmond as you might think. If you're looking for an upside pick in the middle rounds, Stephen Drew and Elvis Andrus are better choices.

Sleeper ... Chris Sale, RP

Sale is kind of this year's version of Neftali Feliz. You don't know whether he's a starter or a reliever, but he's worth drafting on talent alone. And chances are he'll contribute in Fantasy either way. Shoot, he did last year. The White Sox thought enough of his talent to promote him only two months after drafting him, and he responded with a 1.93 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings, all while serving as a part-time closer. Now, the White Sox want to test him in the rotation, and if he doesn't pan out there, he'll just have to settle for replacing Bobby Jenks as the full-time closer, keeping Matt Thornton in the setup role. Maybe you can't get too specific with your plans for Sale, but something good is coming. And good is all you're looking for in the late rounds.

Chicago White Sox Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Juan Pierre LF 1 Mark Buehrle LH
2 Alexei Ramirez SS 2 Edwin Jackson RH
3 Alex Rios CF 3 John Danks LH
4 Adam Dunn DH 4 Gavin Floyd RH
5 Paul Konerko 1B 5 Chris Sale LH
6 Carlos Quentin RF Inj. Jake Peavy RH
7 A.J. Pierzynski C
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Gordon Beckham 2B CL Matt Thornton LH
9 Brent Morel 3B SU Jesse Crain RH
Top bench options RP Sergio Santos RH
R Mark Teahen 3B/OF RP Will Ohman LH
R Omar Vizquel INF RP Tony A. Pena RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2010 high Destination
1 Chris Sale 22 SP Majors Majors
First-rounder in 2010 reached bigs two months later. Will factor whether as starter or closer.
2 Brent Morel 23 3B Majors Majors
Line-drive hitter will get shot to start at 3B. Short on pop, but has potential to hit .300.
3 Dayan Viciedo 22 3B Majors Triple-A
One-trick pony's power translated to majors OK. Needs to work on defense and plate discipline.
4 Tyler Flowers 25 C Majors Triple-A
Stock dropping after hitting .220 at Triple-A. Still likely starter if Pierzynski goes down.
5 Gregory Infante 23 RP Double-A Triple-A
Hard-thrower broke through last year. Could win 'pen spot and even close as last resort.
Best of the rest: Jared Mitchell, OF; Eduardo Escobar, SS; Jacob Petricka, SP; Brandon Short, OF; Trayce Thompson, OF; Anthony Carter, RP; Jhonny Nunez, RP; Lucas Harrell, RP; Jordan Danks, OF; Brandon Hynick, SP; C.J. Retherford, 3B; Brian Omogrosso, RP; John Shelby, OF; Jeff Marquez, RP; and Josh Phegley, C.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can e-mail us your Fantasy Baseball questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com . Be sure to put Team outlooks in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.

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