2015 Season Previews: Chicago White Sox

Over the next several weeks, The Baseball Haven will be creating season previews for all 30 MLB teams. You’ll find their projected records (based on PECOTA records from Baseball Prospectus, as of 2/15/2015), each team’s top three players (based on Steamer WAR projections from FanGraphs), and some valuable notes on each team, including likely bounce-back candidates, potential breakout players or fantasy sleepers, as well as a look back at offseason transactions which led to each team’s projections. Stop back frequently to see where your favorite team ranks! 

Chicago White Sox

Courtesy: MLB.com
Courtesy: MLB.com

2015 Projected Record: 78-84 (3rd in AL Central, 22nd in MLB

Manager: Robin Ventura (221-265 in three seasons with Chicago)

Top Three Players: LHP Chris Sale (4.8), 1B Jose Abreu (4.5), RHP Jeff Samardzija (3.1)

Bounce-back Player: LHP John Danks

It isn’t easy to say that Danks is going to bounce-back, as he hasn’t been a very productive pitcher since winning 15 games in 2010; however, there are signs for people to be positive about Danks. For one thing, Danks was able to pitch 193.1 innings in 2014, less than two years removed from rotator cuff and bicep tendon surgery (which cost him all but nine starts in 2012). The results (4.74 ERA and 1.44 WHIP) weren’t there, but the innings are impressive. Additionally, Danks was able to keep the ball down a bit better, leading to a 1.16 HR:9 IP (1.82 in 2013) and 42.3 percent ground ball rate, neither of which are back to his glory days, but they are trending in the right direction. Danks won’t have the fastball that he once had ever again and he will become more of a changeup artist, but, at the age of 30, he still has time to continue to re-invent himself. Look for another healthy season, with additional improvements across the board – including the wins, as 11 from last season could move to 14 this year with an improved offense.

Carlos Rodon - is he the next Sale?  Courtesy: baseballamerica.com
Carlos Rodon – is he the next Sale?
Courtesy: baseballamerica.com

Fantasy Player to Watch: LHP Carlos Rodon

At one time, the former ace of the N.C. State Wolfpack was the left-handed version of the over-hype drool machine that brought us the “can’t-miss-ace” label that was stuck on Stephen Strasburg and Mark Prior. Today, he still has a lot of helium left in his prospect balloon, but with just a tick off of his fastball, due to collegiate overuse, Rodon’s star doesn’t glow as bright as it once did. Don’t be fooled, though, because this left-hander still possesses enough stuff to be a top-of-the-rotation beast, and, thanks to a Chris Sale foot injury, he will have additional time to shine during spring training in his efforts to make the 25-man roster. Luckily, he only has to keep Hector Noesi from the No.5 spot in order to do that. There will be learning curves, of course, as evidenced by his sexy 13.5 K:9 in 12 innings at AAA that were offset by his 6 BB:9, but Rodon will be an asset for the White Sox, and his time with Chicago should start immediately.

Offseason Overview: The Chicago White Sox were very busy, adding David Robertson as their closer, Jeff Samardzija to complement Sale at the top of the rotation, and Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche to strengthen the offense. It was a quick turnaround, adding several key pieces to immediately hop into contention within the AL Central. The front office attacked the weak spots on the roster, didn’t overdo it with a monster, nine-figure contract, and even acquired Samardzija for pennies on the dollar (in prospects) when compared to what Oakland had given up for him months prior. Chicago did an excellent job to quickly improve their roster this winter.

The Verdict: Those intelligent moves from the offseason really improved the White Sox, and they are going to be closer to the Tigers, Indians, and Royals in 2015, than they will be to the Twins. With that being said, Chicago needs production from some pieces who haven’t always been consistent. Danks and Rodon are wild cards in the rotation, and if Noesi is their best option if a long-term injury were to happen, they would be in great trouble. Adam Eaton has another year to get on base, Avisail Garcia has another year to become “Miguel Cabrera” (as he was called his clone while he was with Detroit), and Jose Quintana has another season to become one of the best left-handed starters in baseball. When you consider those existing pieces, in addition to what was mentioned above, the Chicago White Sox will outperform their PECOTA and be contenders in 2015.

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