Break Out Player: This is it for Gordon Beckham
. I believe Gordon knows it to, he was drafted in the first round of the draft in 2008 (8th Overall). There was lots of hype surrounding him in college and in the minors. A lot of baseball “experts” believed he was the next Ian Kinsler/Michael Young type. He dominated the minors posting a .894 OPS in A, AA, & AAA. (259 AB’s) Gordon was called up in June 2009, and struggled at first, but as July came he started to dominate and finished the 2009 season by posting a .808 OPS and finished 5th in ROY voting, but did win Sporting News ROY. Now since then it’s been all downhill offensively. He posted a slash line of .252/.317.378 in 2010 and .230/.296/.337 in 2011. Although with his struggles at the plate Beckham’s defense never took a back seat. A career SS in college he played 3B in 2009 and struggled a bit with the new position and was eventually moved to 2B where he has dominated the position in 2010 & 2011. I am more hoping he will break out then thinking he will. With the White Sox having new coaches and a new manager this season it should help Gordon and I am hoping he will be posting a slash line similar to his 2009 season of .270/.347/.460.
Player To Regress:There is nothing really bad to say about Paul Konerko
. I love the man and is probably the second best 1B in White Sox history behind Frank Thomas. The man has been great his whole career except for a bad 2003 season. But can he continue to post OPS’ North of .900 at age 36? He had a career high OPS of .977 in 2010 and a .906 OPS in 2011. Paulie has posted these outstanding numbers with pretty much no protection in the order as well. Konerko has also been hampered with hand injuries the last few seasons and has needed cortisone shots to help deal with the pain. With age and health not on his side I would expect him to be around his career OPS of .858. This is still very good but a regression from his last two very good seasons.
Overall Team Projection: Now the White Sox finished the 2011 season with a 79-83 record. This is bad but quite remarkable considering they had 4 regulars who had sub .300 OBP’s on the team. Which is unheard of especially on an AL team. This shows just how good their pitch was last year. I have a hard time believing that Rios, Dunn, Morel and Beckham will post sub .300 OBP’s in 2012. The White Sox traded away closer Sergio Santos and RF’er Carlos Quentin in an attempt to rebuild but Kenny Williams couldn’t do a full rebuild with a lot of bad contracts on the books. So he was forced to try to compete and rebuild at the same time, which is pretty damn hard to do. In losing those two players the White Sox are hoping Addison Reed (future closer) who I believe is better than Santos and young Cuban OF’er Dayan Viciedo will fill the void of the two traded away players. Chris Sale a young pitching rising star gets his chance in the rotation with the departure of Mark Buehrle (Signed w/Miami). Sale has been dominant in the bullpen, but was starter in college. Look for a breakout season for Sale. Rounding out the rest of the rotation is new #1 starter John Danks, a resurgent and finally healthy Jake Peavy, an always reliable Gavin Floyd and last year’s surprise Philip Humber. The White Sox bullpen is probably the biggest question mark on this team. As we all know bullpens are a crap shoot year to year and the White Sox have usually have had a decent bullpen. This year is different considering there are two spots to fill the Santos being traded and Sale moving to the rotation. Who will be the closer Thornton, Crain or Reed. I believe Thornton will start the year as closer but Reed will take over the job early to mid season. Now again I don’t believe the White Sox will be as bad offensively as last year and with the Tigers picked to win the division people will sleep on the White Sox so I predict the White Sox to finish second in the division at 84-78. But just to let you know the pre-season champ picked by the experts really never wins the AL Central as we have seen in the past.