Fantasy Baseball Team Previews – Chicago White Sox

Abreu will be looking to follow up a stunning rookie season in 2015

There was plenty of hype surround the Chicago White Sox in 2015, but they crashed and burned to a 76-86 record. They have a really solid squad with plenty of fantasy options and they should be a fun team to watch in 2016. In the offseason they added two key pieces to their infield in Brett Lawrie and Todd Frazier, who should both boost not only their infield defense but also their line-up incredibly.

However, they also made some concerning offseason moves with the additions of Avila and Navarro in place of Tyler Flowers. Flowers was a fantastic pitch framer and the two new guys are definitely more offense than defense additions. This could harm the fortunes of their young starter with control issues and make what looks a good top three look a little weaker. The loss of Jeff Samardzija is a gain for fantasy, and after a tough year his departure won’t see too many tears shed on the south side of Chicago. Overall they have added this offseason but at the cost of their farm system so they are all in on winning in the next couple of years.

AL East

AL Central AL West NL East NL Central NL West

Baltimore

Chicago WS Houston Atlanta Chicago

Arizona

Boston

Cleveland Los Angeles A Miami Cincinnati Colorado

New York Y

Detroit

Oakland New York M Milwaukee

Los Angeles D

Tampa Bay

Kansas City Texas Philadelphia Pittsburgh

San Diego

Toronto Minnesota Seattle Washington St. Louis

San Francisco

Projected Starting Line-up

  1. Adam Eaton
  2. Melky Cabrera
  3. Jose Abreu
  4. Todd Frazier
  5. Adam LaRoche (vs RH), Mike Olt (vs LH)
  6. Brett Lawrie
  7. Avisail Garcia
  8. Alex Avila (vs RH), Dioner Navarro (vs LH)
  9. Tyler Saladino

Todd Frazier, 3B

Can Todd Frazier remain a top five third baseman after a move to the South side of Chicago?

Can Todd Frazier remain a top five third baseman after a move to the South side of Chicago?

When the “Todd Frazier traded” headline popped up on my phone, my initial thoughts were all negative. Cincy is a really nice power hitters ball park and moving away from there seemed like a downside for Frazier. However, landing in Chicago has prevented Frazier from losing any value and may have actually given him a hint of value because of the better line-up he will drop into. Frazier is coming off a terrible second half in which he hit just 0.220 with 10 homers. He did manage 35 homers last year and although I think retains most of his value I do think the power drops off a tick. I currently have him projected for 75 runs with 88 RBI, hitting 29 homers with 15 steals at a 0.250 average. Frazier is currently falling just into the 5th round, which is about right value for me and is somewhere I would happy to take him if I have let the big three and Bryant slide past me.

Jose Abreu, 1B/DH

Abreu had a good season in 2015 even if compared to his debut season it seemed a little disappointing. His batting average dropped off by 27 points down to 0.290 and he managed six less homers. However, he still managed to put up similar numbers in the runs and RBI totals and batting third in this line-up should give him the opportunity to at least get close to a combined 190 across those two categories. Average and power wise I think we have found his correct value so I am expecting close to 30 homers and a 0.290 average again. Abreu is at worst my 6th option at first base in both formats and in roto may even sneak above Votto into 5th now Frazier has switched teams. However, he is currently being drafted above E5 in some leagues and I would prefer E5 and his extreme line-up and park to Abreu.

Adam Eaton, OF

Eaton had a superb second half to 2015 in which he stole 13 bases, hit eight homers and had an average of 0.335. In total, he had 14 homers last season which is a jump of 13 from the previous year as his ISO, HR/FB and AB/HR returned to the levels he had in limited time at the end of the 2012 season. I think his true value lies somewhere between these numbers with 10 being possible which combined with close to 20 steals gives him nice value as a number 3 outfielder, especially in roto leagues. His value is pretty much spot on in the 10th round of drafts as he has the potential to couple a 10/20 number with a 0.290 batting average and close to 100 runs.

Melky Cabrera, OF

Can Melky put together a more consistent year for fantasy owners in 2016?

Can Melky put together a more consistent year for fantasy owners in 2016?

Much like Eaton, Cabrera’s season was definitely a tale of two halves in 2015. Coming over to Chicago from Toronto, he started slow hitting just 0.267 with four homers. However, in the second half he hit 0.287 with eight homers as he adjusted to the new park and the new division. This year Cabrera is batting second where he should get plenty of opportunities to drive in Eaton and to be driven in by Abreu or Frazier. I have him projected for 80 runs with 65 RBI’s, 12 homers, four steals at a 0.280 average. Currently Melky is being drafted outside of the top 20 rounds in 150ish range among hitters. I have him being better than that and would be willing to take him in the 17th, if not earlier, in five outfielder leagues.

Brett Lawrie 2B/3B

Ever since his superb debut in 2011 where he hit 0.293 with nine homers in just 171 PA’s, everyone has been waiting for the Lawrie breakout. The move to Oakland last year caused a lot of concern to arise that any power potential may be sucked out by that park. However, Lawrie had the best year of his career, hitting 16 homers at a 0.260 average. He had the most amount of AB’s in his career which may account for the increased number of homers and strikeouts he had last year. The move to the White Sox should play well with his power so repeating those 16 homers is not out of the question. If he can move up into the 5 spot and gain the extra runs and RBI that would bring then we could be looking at a potential top 15 second baseman with eligibility to play at third as an added bonus. Currently, Lawrie is going outside of the top 240 and considering the weakness of middle infield I would be happy to draft him three rounds earlier in the end of the 17th/top of the 18th.

Avisail Garcia, OF

Garcia is an interesting conundrum for fantasy owners entering the 2016 season. In 2015 he managed to play a whole season for the first time and hit 13 homers at a 0.257 average. However, being projected to bat 7th in this line-up really hurts his value as it depresses his runs and RBI potential. That means he is outside my top 60 outfielders based on projections alone where I have him projected for a combined 110 runs and RBI with 13 homers, eight steals at a 0.250 average. That puts him in the same sort of category as Rusney Castillo but Garcia is going pretty much undrafted in most leagues. His power upside is enough for me to consider drafting him as a 6th or 7th outfielder with a late round pick in the hope he puts it together and can move up this line-up a little.

Any Other Business?

  • Adam LaRoche, 1B/DH: Going to the AL should have been the shot that prolonged the career of LaRoche but in 2015 he hit half of the homers he had in 2014 and his batting average dropped off a startling 0.052 down to close to 0.200. I mentioned him here as a clear stay clear warning rather than to endorse him as a late round upside play.
  • Dioneer Navarro. C: Navarro is a borderline number two catcher in two catcher leagues but being on the short side of a platoon to start the year depresses his value.
  • Alex Avila, C: A real deep league two catcher league option. Even on the plus side a platoon he doesn’t have a lot of fantasy value as a hitter.

Projected Rotation

  1. Chris Sale
  2. Jose Quintana
  3. Carlos Rodon
  4. John Danks
  5. Erik Johnson

Chris Sale

Can better fielding help Chris Sale challenge for that #2 pitcher spot in 2016?

Can better fielding help Chris Sale challenge for that #2 pitcher spot in 2016?

In terms of ERA Sale had the worst year of his career in 2015, but at one point in the season he was on track for 300 strikeouts. Sale’s ERA woes largely seem to have come down to shoddy fielding given that his ERA was 0.7 higher (3.41 compared to 2.73) and that is something the White Sox looked to have addressed with the additions of Lawrie and Frazier. In terms of fantasy value Sale should benefit from an extra win or two given the improvements to the line-up around him. It would not surprise me if we were talking about Sale as the clear number two SP and debating whether he can challenge Kershaw next season.

Jose Quintana

Quintana had another solid season in 2015 and has established himself in the low end number two/high end number three SP range for fantasy. He doesn’t have the same strikeout prowess as his elite team mate, but he has consistently had an ERA in the 3’s over the last four years. Even with a little bit of ERA increase built into his projections he still projects as a solid number three starting pitcher for fantasy with number two upside.

Carlos Rodon

Rodon had a mixed first season in the majors as he managed a decent ERA and strikeout rate on his way to winning nine games. However, he walked 4.6 batters/9 and had a 1.4 WHIP which he is going to need to improve on. There will be bumps in the road for this sophomore in 2016 and if he falls into the 50’s among starting pitchers then he is a solid upside play as a fifth starter in the 14th/15th round.

John Danks & Erik Johnson

Neither of these guys enter the season as draftable outside of the deepest of leagues.

Closer:

David Robertson

Robertson enters 2016 as a solid top 10 closer as there are no clear candidates to take the job away from him right now. He has a really nice strikeout rate and even if he has an ERA creeping high in the 2’s his shot to have 40 saves makes sure he remains a top 10 option.

Prospect Potential

  • Tim Anderson, SS: Anderson’s upside is above average hitter who plays at the weakest position for fantasy in baseball. He is a really speedy guy who had a bit of pop that could see potentially 10 homers coupled with 30+ steals. He has the potential to be a 0.300+ hitter but the concerning strikeout to walk numbers we have seen in the minors is a big drawback. As with most shortstops in the minors there are concerns about whether he can stick at the position as a move to the outfield would decrease his value. There is a chance we could see him reasonably early if Saladino struggles at short but how he does at AAA with the strikeouts and defensively is well worth monitoring.
  • Jacob May, OF: May stole 37 bases in 2015 in AA whilst hitting 0.275. There is next to no power in his bat which may make the White Sox hesitant to bring him up too early given that they would be replacing Garcia or Cabrera who both have some pop. May will start the year either in AA or AAA but if he continues to hit well he should progress quickly into the major’s discussion. The natural fit is to replace Eaton in CF if anything happens to him so that is something to watch out for.

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