Chicago White Sox 2012 Preview

Projected Record: 77-85

Player WAR Player WAR
C AJ Pierzynski 1.2 SP1 Gavin Floyd 3.7
1B Paul Konerko 3.1 SP2 John Danks 3.5
2B Gordon Beckham 1.4 SP3 Jake Peavy 2.6
SS Alexei Ramirez 4.5 SP4 Chris Sale 2.2
3B Brent Morel 1.2 SP5 Phil Humber 2.4
LF Alejandro De Aza 2.2 CP Matt Thornton 1.4
CF Alex Rios 1.4 RP Jesse Crain 0.5
RF Dayan Viciedo 1 RP Addison Reed 0.7
DH Adam Dunn 2.7 RP Wil Ohman 0.2
Bench Tyler Flowers 0.7 RP Dylan Axelrod 0.5
Bench Brent Lillibridge 1.1 RP Zach Stewart 0.5
Bench Ozzie Martinez 0 RP Brian Bruney 0
Bench Jordan Danks 0.5
Bench Kosuke Fukudome 0.4
Dan Johnson 0
Eduardo Escobar  0
21 18.2

The White Sox did not make a single major league acquisition in the offseason, as far as I can tell, while losing their staff ace, closer, and hitter with the second most HRs in 2011, and yet I still think they’ll only decline by two wins in 2012.* A lot of that hinges on getting better performances out of Adam Dunn and Alex Rios; which would make 77 wins a possibility in a very poor division. The White Sox infield is the same as it was in 2011, with Konerko, Beckham, Ramirez and Morel around the diamond. Konerko is still solid even though he’s going into his age 36 season, and Alexei Ramirez, who somehow turned 30 in September, should be solid again, although the other two spots have a few more questions. Beckham has gotten worse in each of the last two seasons, so he may not have much time left to prove himself. Brent Morel should play a bit better in 2012 than he did in his rookie year, but I still don’t have too high of expectations for him. Tyler Flowers who, despite a pretty good walk rate, hasn’t hit real well in the last 2 seasons, has a chance to unseat Pierzynski as the starting catcher, who has been thoroughly average for the last 5 years.

The outfield is also fairly unproven with De Aza in left, Viciedo in right, and the aforementioned Rios in center. De Aza is highly unlikely to repeat his numbers from 2011, but he should be slightly above average. It’s hard to know what to expect from Viciedo, who has a bit of pop, but he won’t provide the numbers that they got from Quentin last year. This brings us to Rios, who was absolutely awful last year. It was also his second terrible season in the last 3 years, so it’s hard to say that it was a huge aberration. I do see him improving, but not to the level of his 2010 season. Next up is Adam Dunn, and his historically poor 2011 season. Dunn had been eerily consistent for the previous 6 seasons, and I can’t see him being that bad again. I see him putting up 30 homeruns and hitting around .240, while getting on base. The bench is a little weak, with some youngsters along with Brent Lillibridge, who was pretty decent last year in limited time.

Chicago’s rotation, even without Buehrle, is quite solid. Gavin Floyd and the recently extended John Danks head it up, and should each be worth about 3.5 wins in 2012. Then comes Peavy, whose ERA last year was way higher than his peripherals indicated it should have been. He could be a sleeper to put up a good season, but then again his performance has taken a bit of a hit ever since he left the confines of the NL West. Chris Sale is also slotted to join the rotation, and I think he’ll be above average, but in limited innings. Phil Humber slots into the #5 role, and while he’ll probably take a step back from 2011, he’s still a step above the majority of teams’ 5th starters. Matt Thornton takes over as closer, followed by a couple of other solid pieces, such as Jesse Crain and Addison Reed. Losing Santos for very little hurts them though, especially after they locked him up to a team friendly deal.

If everything falls into place, the White Sox could be better than expected this year. They had the team to potentially win the division in 2011, but were taken out of it by Rios and Dunn’s awful play. If those two bounce back in a big way, it’s hard to say what could happen in the AL Central, as I don’t think the Tigers are that far ahead of the other teams.

*The White Sox conveniently signed Kosuke Fukudome minutes after I posted this; just another reason to badmouth the White Sox. Seeing as he’ll be the fourth outfielder this year, his addition doesn’t change my forecast for Chicago in 2012.

Offseason Acquisitions: Dan Johnson, Kosuke Fukudome

Offseason Losses: Carlos Quentin, Omar Vizquel, Ramon Castro, Juan Pierre, Mark Buehrle, Sergio Santos, Jason Frasor

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