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March 18, 2014 posted by Chuck Anderson

2014 Fantasy Baseball Top Five Questions: Chicago White Sox

2014 Fantasy Baseball Top Five Questions:  Chicago White Sox
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The White Sox are in rough shape.  In 2013 their team wOBA was .299, the lowest mark since 1968.  The front office seems intent on collecting young assets and bracing for a rebuilding phase.  Many positions are open so fantasy players should watch for potential values.  Just do yourself a favor and don’t get talked into Gordon Beckham again.

1)  Are there any dents in Chris Sale’s resume?  In a word, no.  His skills have either stayed consistent or improved throughout his brief career.  His surface stats are fully supported by the underlying numbers.  His delivery worries some, but given how often pitchers go down it is silly to avoid one that has no major health issues.  He throws a slider, but not so often that it is a clear risk.  He is plenty good enough to be the ace of any fantasy team.

2)  Project Jose Abreu.  There are multiple reasons why the Cuban slugger is a nightmare for projection systems to figure out.  One does not have to look far for positive statements, both from those inside and outside the organization.

He is hitting .290/.313/.452 this spring.  That line is almost useless, but one walk in 32 PA shows a high level of aggression.  His ground out to air out ratio is also extremely high at 5.33.  That could hinder his power.  Mark me down for .272, 26 HR, 78 R, 83 RBI, and 3 SB.  Once the top ten first basemen leave the board be happy to grab him on the chance he could far exceed that.

3)  Is Alejandro De Aza’s power legit?  He spent parts of the last three seasons in Chicago and his ISOs are .191, .130, and .142.  There was not a huge change last year, just more plate appearances and a gradual trend towards hitting more fly balls.  He was only 233rd out of the top 300 hitters in average fly ball distance, however.  Strangely his HR/FB ratio at cozy US Cellular Field was just 5.8% while away it was 14.8%.  Expect 12-15 long balls should he play 150 games.

4)  Which relief pitcher has the best skills?  The White Sox know what they want in their bullpen.  All three closer candidates are right handed, rely on a fastball/slider combination, and keep the ball on the ground.

Matt Lindstrom is the veteran, he has very consistent FIPs and xFIPs over the last three years.  The last time his K/9 was over 8.0 was 2007 however.

Daniel Webb started 2013 in High-A but was in Chicago by the end of the year.  His K/BB suffered as he advanced past Double-A and could use more refinement time.

Nate Jones took a big step forward last year.  His K/BB improved from 2.03 to 3.42.  His GB/FB ratio jumped from 1.42 to 1.80.  His 4.15 ERA was clearly unlucky, he should be handed the keys to the ninth.

5)  Are either one of the former Arizona hitters worth a look?  Third baseman Matt Davidson has issues making contact.  His strikeout rate was 26.8% in Triple-A, 27.6% in the majors.  Depending on how he looks early he could find himself back riding buses.  Make him prove it before investing.

Adam Eaton is far more interesting.  He has far better plate discipline and he stole 38 bases in 2012.  He could nail down the leadoff spot giving him a chance to contribute positively in Runs, AVG, and steals.  He is not worth going crazy over, but makes a fine fourth or fifth outfielder in twelve team mixed leagues.

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