This 2014 Chicago White Sox club is a team in transition. After years of contending with veteran players — especially on offense — the White Sox will likely field their youngest team in years.
The White Sox made several trades both at the deadline and in the offseason that have changed the major league roster drastically.
They also have another exciting Cuban defector who could be one of the biggest wild cards of the entire Fantasy Baseball season.
While the White Sox may not have as many Fantasy studs as in recent years, they still have plenty of Fantasy potential.
Projected 2014 Chicago White Sox “Go-To” Lineup:
- Adam Eaton, CF
- Alejandro De Aza, LF
- Jose Dariel Abreu, 1B
- Adam Dunn, DH
- Avisail Garcia, RF
- Alexei Ramirez, SS
- Gordon Beckham, 2B
- Matt Davidson, 3B
- Tyler Flowers, C
- SP1: Chris Sale, LHP
- SP2: Jose Quintana, LHP
- SP3: John Danks, LHP
- SP4: Erik Johnson, RHP
- SP5: Felipe Paulino, RHP
- Closer: Nate Jones, RHP
- Setup: Matt Lindstrom, RHP, Ronald Belisario, RHP
Fantasy Stud: Chris Sale, SP
This is an easy call. In two full seasons as a starter, Sale owns a 3.06 ERA and 1.10 WHIP as well as an impressive 4.34 K/BB rate. At worst is he a top-15 starting pitcher.
Breakout Candidate: Jose Dariel Abreu
I believe I am actually more down on Jose Dariel Abreu than most, but I don’t think anyone would be shocked if he batted .280 with 30 home runs and 100 RBI. U.S. Cellular Field is certainly a favorable ballpark.
I also think the presence of fellow Cuban players Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo makes it more likely Abreu will adjust to U.S. baseball quickly. At the very least, Abreu should provide home runs, but he has the potential to be a four-category producer right off the bat.
Sleeper Candidates: Felipe Paulino, Adam Eaton
Paulino has been largely forgotten in the Fantasy community, mostly because he has played on terrible teams, walked too many batters and had Tommy John surgery in 2012.
After making seven minor league starts with the Royals at the end of last season, Paulino and Erik Johnson appear to be the frontrunners to join Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks in the starting rotation.
Pitching coach Don Cooper has a reputation as a miracle worker, and if he can finally help Paulino limit his walks, Paulino could easily finish the season with an ERA under 4.00 while striking out around a batter per inning.
Eaton was a trendy sleeper last season, but an injury and a crowded Arizona outfield limited him to just 277 plate appearances. Eaton’s ceiling was probably overstated last season, but I see no reason to believe he cannot be a 10/20 guy while batting .280 at the top of a solid lineup in a good ballpark for hitters. I could easily see him becoming Norichika Aoki with a bit more power and a bit less batting average. That sounds like a mid-round pick to me, and I suspect Eaton goes later than that in most drafts.
Bust Candidate: Nate Jones
The White Sox don’t have a true bust candidate. Sale is the only player who will go early enough in drafts to qualify, and while I still think his funky delivery puts him at a better-than-average risk of having arm problems, I don’t see any reason to expect a drop in performance.
Abreu could just as easily be a bust as a breakout candidate, but I already used him once and he isn’t really going to cost enough on Draft Day to be a bust.
I think a lot of Fantasy players already have Jones penciled in to close for the White Sox, but I think that is premature. My guess is the White Sox will go with whoever has the best spring training out of Jones, Matt Lindstrom and Daniel Webb.
Jones has been very good in his two seasons with the White Sox, but Lindstrom does have closing experience – albeit, it wasn’t a very good experience — and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that counts for something with the White Sox front office.
Top Rookies: Matt Davidson, Erik Johnson
As I mentioned above, the White Sox are in the midst of a youth movement unheard of in the Kenny Williams era. It looked for awhile like the White Sox would sign Juan Uribe to a multi-year contract. But after he re-signed with the Dodgers and they traded Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Matt Davidson, the third base job is Davidson’s to lose.
Davidson probably will not hit for a great average or a ton of power, especially right away, but he should play every day. I feel confident projecting him for .250 with 15 home runs. Those numbers aren’t anything to write home about, but they are very solid for AL-only. Davidson also has a chance to luck into 20 home runs or a .280 average.
Johnson is widely considered the top prospect in the White Sox system. That isn’t exactly a badge of honor, but Johnson looks like a future No. 3 or 4 starter. After making five big league starts in September, Johnson will likely have a rotation spot from Day One.
Johnson is probably just an AL-only play or spot starter in mixed leagues, but like Davidson he should have a job and he has some upside.
What Should We Know?
Ramirez is as solid as they come. He is probably the least-sexy shortstop in the top 10, but he is a near-lock to bat .270 while contributing steals and home runs. Lately, he has provided more speed than power, but I think at the very least, he will get you something. He may not have a great ceiling, but I believe his floor is very high.
With the acquisitions of Avisail Garcia, Abreu and Eaton, the 2014 Chicago White Sox will likely have two platoons. Alejandro de Aza and Viciedo will likely split time in left field while Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko platoon at DH. De Aza actually has pretty even platoon splits in his career, but Viciedo is too good to sit against lefties.
The White Sox catcher situation is a mess. Tyler Flowers owns a .279 OBP in 592 plate appearances, and at age 28, time is running out for him to become an average offensive catcher. The other catcher options — Rule 5 pick Adrian Nieto and Josh Phegley — are equally underwhelming. I suspect all three start intermittently and bat just north of the Mendoza line. I would avoid all three, even in two-catcher or AL-only leagues.
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