The 2013 White Sox look a great deal like the 2012 White Sox, with the core of a team that won 85 games returning nearly en masse to try and challenge the Tigers for the American League Central crown (or, at least, the Athletics for the second wild card spot). There isn't much new with Chicago: A.J. Pierzynski left via free agency to sign with the Rangers, which elevated Tyler Flowers to starting duties at catcher. Flowers hasn't exactly set the world on fire so far -- in 108 career games, Flowers has a .205 batting average with 12 home runs and two steals. But the 26-year-old former top prospect has been relegated to backup catching duties the past two years. When he was given more regular playing time in the minors, Flowers was much better, hitting .275 with an .876 OPS in more than 1,800 at-bats. He hit 15 or more home runs four times, despite getting more than 400 at-bats just once. Look for flowers, given regular playing time, to flex a decent amount of power, while bringing his average up to the .250 to .260 level.
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The White Sox also brought in Jeff Keppinger to play third base. The team had acquired Kevin Youkilis halfway through 2012, but Youkilis jumped ship to the Yankees in the offseason. Keppinger has quietly put up impressive numbers in his career, with a .288 average -- buoyed by a .325 average in 385 at-bats last season as a member of the Rays. The 32-year-old will have first, third and second base eligibility in 2013. Despite his lack of power -- he could top out at 15 home runs if he manages full-time at-bats and gets a few lucky swings in a hitter-friendly park -- Keppinger is a decent bet to hit for average and score a good amount of runs in a lineup with plenty of power behind him. Mixed-leaguers desperate for middle infield help can consider him a late option that won't hurt your team, while AL-only leaguers should consider Keppinger a mid/late-round sleeper option.
The pitching staff seems to be Chicago's possible weak spot, as every member of the rotation has question marks: Will Chris Sale's 2012 elbow issues pop up again? Can Jake Peavy stay healthy for two straight seasons? Will John Danks rebound from shoulder surgery? Can Gavin Floyd finish a season with a sub-4.00 ERA? And was the Jose Quintana we saw last year the real deal? Granted, the talented rotation could also shine if things break the right way, but the lingering doubt about each of them should give drafters pause when their names reach the top of the queue. Additionally, Addison Reed, who was a revelation after the White Sox cycled through their first few choices at closer, had a higher-than-we-may-remember 4.75 ERA last year. And while 29 saves for a rookie is a solid start to a career, Chicago has a lot of safety nets in that bullpen (Jesse Crain, Matt Lindstrom, Donnie Veal) in case he falters.
Deep sleeper ... Hector Santiago, pitcher
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Santiago is currently slated for a role out of the bullpen, which will give him value in AL-only leagues as a low-ratio, high-strikeout reliever, but if any member of the starting rotation falters, Santiago could be a surprisingly solid option in his place. Many owners may not have noticed, as it all took place in September, but Santiago made four starts in 2012, allowing four earned runs in 19 1/3 innings, good for a 1.86 ERA. He struck out 26 batters and had a 1.19 WHIP. His sleeper status is meant for deeper AL-only formats, where this type of risk-taking could pay off, but it wouldn't hurt for mixed league owners to keep an eye on his situation, as a few strong starts in this scenario could elevate Santiago to mixed-league worthiness (think Hisashi Iwakuma last season).
Breakout ... Dayan Viciedo, outfielder
One would think a 25 home run season from a 23-year-old would already be considered a breakout performance. But Viciedo's 2012 has been mostly overlooked by Fantasy players. Viciedo had two straight 20 home run seasons in the minors in 2010 and 2011, while keeping up a decent average. An improvement on his average is within reason and an uptick in power isn't out of the question, so a .280 average and 30 home runs from Viciedo in 2013 is a real possibility, making him a solid late-round pick in mixed leagues.
Roto gem ... Adam Dunn, first baseman
When a player hits 39 home runs in nine of his past 10 seasons, that one year without the power production looks almost certain to be the outlier. Chalk up Adam Dunn's 2011 failings to any factor of your choosing -- the switch to a different league, the move to full-time DH, injury -- but know that it was the exception, not the rule. Dunn will get you home runs in bunches while dragging your average down. But 40 home runs bring at least 95 RBI and 80 or more runs scored. Dunn even stole two bases last year. You might luck into one of those .260 seasons from Dunn, but you won't have to worry about a lack of doubles or leading the league in strikeouts, which haunt those in points leagues.
The White Sox have a pretty shallow group of top prospects heading into 2013. Not from lack of building, but mainly because many of them have been promoted recently, clearing out space at the upper levels. ... Trayce Thompson and Courtney Hawkins lead their farm stars, but the most intriguing prospect is Nestor Molina, a converted outfielder/third baseman who didn't start pitching until 2008. Since then, he's compiled a 2.92 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in more than 400 minor league innings. Pickins are slim here for Fantasy vultures -- you may want to look elsewhere for minor league impact.
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