The Chicago White Sox finished a disappointing 4th in the AL central last season and they appear to have made plenty of efforts to try and change that in 2015. The main additions were Jeff Samardzija to bolster a top heavy rotation, David Robertson to give them a consistent closer and Melky Cabrera to add some experience to a very young outfield. In return they lost Konerko and Semien but they have definitely gained in the offseason.
- Adam Eaton, OF
- Melky Cabrera, OF
- Jose Abreu, 1B
- Adam LaRoche, DH (vs RH), Gordon Beckham, DH (vs LH)
- Avisail Garcia, OF
- Conor Gillaspie, 3B (vs RH), Emilio Bonifacio, 3B (vs LH)
- Alexei Ramirez, SS
- Tyler Flowers, C
- Carlos Sanchez, 2B
Fantasy Superstar: Jose Abreu, 1B
Coming into 2014 Abreu was an unknown quantity in the major leagues. He came from Cuba with a strong reputation but whether that would translate to the majors was questionable. He raced out of the blocks last season hitting roughly three quarters of his homers before the all-star break. After the all-star break he hit more for average and less for power meaning that he ended the year with a great all round stat line and left us wondering what he really is at the major league levels. This year I expect a little regression all around but I still expect him to be a top 5 first baseman rather than being the number one overall as he was last year.
Bust Potential?: Alexei Ramirez, SS
2014 was somewhat of a return to old heights for the ageing Ramirez as he hit double digit home runs for the first time since in three years whilst also grabbing 20 steals. 30+ year old shortstops don’t often find a second wind that lasts long so expecting Ramirez to repeat last year’s performance may be building yourself up for disappointment. One thing Ramirez does offer you is consistent playing time having played 158 games the past four years and never playing less than 135. Shortstop is such a weak position that you will naturally find yourself reaching for one but beware Ramirez could have a major regression this season back to what he was two years ago (10th overall shortstop).
Mid-Round Power: Adam LaRoche, 1B/DH
LaRoche has been a 20 homer guy the past three years and has often had to be part of a platoon at first base for the Nationals. The move to the AL means that he should become a full time guy for the first time since 2012 (his 36 homer year!). With the DH spot his to start the year LaRoche should be a lock for 550 AB’s if he stays healthy. In that situation 25+ homers should be a realistic expectation but beware as they will come at a slight cost to your batting average meaning he is unlikely to end the year much higher than the 10-15th best first baseman.
All-Round Contributor: Melky Cabrera, OF
Cabrera seems to be the forgotten man at times in the outfield because he doesn’t bring 20 homers or even 10 steals to your team. However, he makes up for that with a nearly 0.300 average which allows you to draft power and steals later in the draft even if they come at a cost to your average. I am really excited for Cabrera’s runs scored potential batting second above the powerful duo of Abreu and LaRoche and could lead to 90+ runs scored! If Micah Johnson grabs the second base job and bats 9th and Adam Eaton can show some of the potential he had in Arizona then there could also be decent RBI numbers for Cabrera but that is a longer shot than elite runs scored is.
5 Category Contributor: Avisail Garcia, OF
Drafting Avisail Garcia won’t help you sew up any one particular category but he should provide decent production across all five categories which as a third outfielder is something extremely valuable in itself. Garcia should give you some balance so that you can chase power or steal at your last two outfield spots if you missed out on either early in drafts.
Upside Gamble: Adam Eaton, OF
Eaton has been somewhat of a disappointment considering the touting he was given as a prospect but Chicago will keep giving him every opportunity to live up to that hype this season. The increase to close to 500 AB’s last season meant he broke the 10 steal barrier last season but there was no power to follow. His batting average and runs scored last season were more than useful and even if the average regresses a little I would still expect decent average with 15ish steals and 80ish runs. While this isn’t something I recommend you go chasing he is a decent late round pick if you need some help in runs and steals. Hopefully there might be a glint of power start to come through as he grows into the major leagues but right now he is barely a utility player in redraft leagues.
- Chris Sale
- Jeff Samardzija
- Jose Quintana
- John Danks
- Hector Noesi
Fantasy Superstar: Chris Sale, SP
As the undoubted star of this rotation, Sale could easily be the closest challenger to Kershaw’s throne of most amazing pitcher in baseball come the end of 2015. He projects to have a K/9 of around 10 with an ERA close to 2 and a WHIP around 1. All around that really does speak for itself and do not be surprised if he is the second pitcher off the board following Kershaw. The issue with Sale is that he is looking likely to miss his first start or two which is not ideal for a second/third round pick but he should bounce back just fine and if he falls in drafts on this news you could find yourself some really nice value late in the second/top of the third
Fantasy Star: Jeff Samardzija, SP
Not quite a superstar as he is closer to the 15th best pitcher entering 2015 than the 10th best. Samardzija has crept further up draft boards over the last few years having been a trendy sleeper on the other side of Chicago. Now playing for a team that has a decent line up not only does he have decent k/9 potential, a WHIP of just over one and an ERA around 3 but he should be close to 15 wins this season meaning he can step up as a fantasy #2 for you this year.
Late Round Value?: Jose Quintana, SP
I was just going to lump Quintana in with the rest of the rotation but I feel the 16th round is decent value for a guy who isn’t far off the potential of pitchers such as Gerritt Cole and Alex Cobb who will generally go 5+ rounds higher. Now Quintana’s draft position may well be a product of just how deep starting pitching is that teams are waiting on their 4th through 6th starting pitchers and hovering up value deep in drafts. For reference Quintana doesn’t project a mile off Zach Grienke who people still value extremely highly, in fact, my roto score for them is the same but Grienke’s actual numbers project to be just fractionally better.
The rest of the rotation is nothing to write home about with Noesi and Danks the two current holders of the torch. Do not be surprised if they are quickly replaced by Carlos Rodon, especially if Rodon is in the rotation due to Sale’s injury and impresses then quickly could be week two. Don’t touch either unless you are in super deep leagues.
CL: David Robertson
SU: Zach Putnam
SU: Jake Petricka
MR: Javy Guerra
MR: Zach Duke
MR: Matt Albers
LR: Dan Jennings
They just paid Robertson a nice fat contract to come and be the closer for them so he has solid job security. That pretty much rules out the rest of the bullpen from draft value in a non-holds league.
- Micah Johnson, 2B: I love the potential of another steals specialist at second base and Johnson is someone I will seriously consider late in deep drafts for a few steals. There is a realistic chance he could win this job in spring and then we have a 20 steal minimum second baseman on our hands with 30+ steal upside.
- Carlos Rodon, SP: I sort of covered him above when discussing Noesi and Danks. He was nearly called up for an extended period last year but the Sox hesitated. Do not be surprised if they use him in week 1 to give Sale some extra recovery time and his performance means he sticks in the rotation. Well worth a late round gamble as there is plenty of waiver wire options if he doesn’t get called up until mid-season.