The White Sox have struggled to redefine themselves over the last few years. They’ve built teams that were contenders at least on paper, and they have plenty of great players who can help your fantasy team. The Chi Sox play in the American League’s most offense friendly ballpark. Even if they can’t put the components together in real life, they have bats that can help, some solid pitching and plenty of risks too.
Here are 10 to watch in 2013
Jake Peavy (SP): Hard to call Peavy an ace at this point in his career. Nonetheless he was outstanding last year and pitched like one, managing 32 starts after failing to pitch more than 20 starts per year in the three previous seasons. He’s a serious injury risk, but oh, all that talent is so tempting. He’s got all the tools, but that right shoulder and the related muscles not to mention the elbow all of which have been issues in three of the last four years. He’s a great investment at the right price, just don’t overpay.
Tyler Flowers (C): Flowers is poised to be the primary catcher for the Sox coming into this season. That’s good, and that’s bad too. He has plenty of power, but his splits against right-handed pitchers are downright ugly. That could spell platoon at some point, but if he can adjust he’s got a lot of upside. That said, what you as a fantasy player want and what the White Sox want might be slightly different. For now what they want is a solid defensive backstop and his focus might well be on that all season.
Gavin Floyd (SP): The fantasy community has been waiting for years to watch Floyd have a breakout season and become a legitimate ace. He’ll be 30 at the start of this year, a time when most pitchers start reaching their prime and for him it is a contract year to boot, so he’s got plenty of extra incentive. This could be the year we see a sub-4.00 ERA, or even a sub-3.75 ERA. He’s got great control and a career 7 K/9 on his side, but it was even better last year almost reaching 8 K/9.
Alejandro De Aza (OF): De Aza is a lock for 20 steals, maybe more and there is a hint of power here too. He’s more than capable of double-digit home runs, but how many more is the big question. He’ll never be more than a .270 hitter unless he improves his contact rate and manages to improve a bit against left handers.
Adam Dunn (DH): He’s 33 and he’s capable of more average than he displayed last year, but no matter what he’ll offer you power. An increase in his flyball rate could be the difference between him hitting 30 and 40 home runs. Still for a player who won’t cost you more than a buck or three, he’s a cheap, reliable sense of power who still has a few years before the inevitable cliff.
Alex Rios (OF): Rios had his best year in a White Sox uniform last year as he rediscovered the ability to hit to all fields and contributed in all five categories. That’s what happens when it all comes together. The question is will it stay together or fall apart again? He’s 32 and should have the ability to repeat, but some regression from last year’s .304-81-25-91-23 is likely to occur. But heck, 80% of that is still pretty good and that’s probably as far as he’d be likely to regress.
Clayton Richards (SP): Richards is a guy who has posted a number of useful seasons, posting three consecutive sub-4.00 ERAs. However he’s a creature who’s thrived on the home splits, while struggling on the road. The changes to the cavernous dimensions of PETCO Park will not work in his favor.
Paul Konerko (1B): Dismiss at least some of last year’s power fall off. That’s what happens when you get a slugger with a wrist injury. He should be fully recovered going into 2013 and while others are writing the 37-year-old off as fading quickly, realize he probably is still a lot better than he showed last year and it could be a good opportunity to grab him on the cheap.
Dayan Viciedo (OF): He could hit 30 home runs if the stars align just right, however he’s not likely to ever hit for average unless he learns the to master the strike zone a little better. He’s young and in the growth phase of his career so there is a good chance he can take that step forward. Betting on him, especially in the bandbox, to keep slugging and contributing to your fantasy well being isn’t a bad thing.
Chris Sale (SP): Sale has true ace level skills, but durability is a point of concern considering he threw 192 innings last year after never throwing more than 71 innings in a season before this. That’s a huge workload increase, but is it too much? Some studies have suggested that a big increase in innings is likely to lead to arm/shoulder injury. If so Sale is a major league risk. He's worth that risk provided the price is right, but there are plenty of more proven arms in the same class if he's commanding ace type money in your league.