Chicago White Sox
(Updated: February 28)
The White Sox haven't had a winning season since 2012 with their last playoff appearance coming in 2008. Chicago has three World Series titles (1906, 1917, and 2005).
Their failure last year came in both hitting and pitching. In 2018, the White Sox scored 50 runs fewer than 2017 (706) leading to a 24th place finish in the majors. The White Sox hit 182 HRs (16th) with weakness in their batting average (.241 - 21st). A big part of their struggles came from a major league-high 1,594 strikeouts.
On the pitching side, Chicago placed 26th in ERA (4.85) while also walking the most batters (653) in baseball. In the end, they finished with a 62-100 record, which was their worst record since 1981.
In the offseason, Chicago signed C James McCann, OF Jon Jay, and CL Kelvin Herrera. They traded for 1B Yonder Alonso, RP Alex Colome, SP Ervin Santana, and SP Ivan Nova while giving up no key players.
The White Sox lost 3B Matt Davidson, OF Avisail Garcia, SP Miguel Gonzalez, SP James Shields, RP Jeanmar Gomez, and SP Hector Santiago to free agency.
Last year Chicago lost top pitching prospect Michael Kopech for the 2019 season with a right elbow injury that required a TJ surgery.
Their bullpen should be competitive if their top arms stay healthy. I expect improvement In the starting rotation helped by a bounce-back season by SP Lucas Giolito.
The White Sox have one anchor bat in 1B Jose Abreu plus a potential impact young player with 2B YoanMoncada and Eloy Jimenez plus Tim Anderson looks to be on the verge of a breakout season.
Heading into 2019, Anderson will be a tough player to gauge his opportunity in the batting order. His free-swinging style (walk rate – 5.0 and K rate – 24.6) isn’t ready to bat at the top of the batting order even with some improvement in his approach last year. Last year Tim saw time batting leadoff (141 at-bats), but he spent most of the year hitting between 7th (.199) and 8th (.246). In his minor league career, Anderson made more contact (his CTBA was over .390 from 2013 to 2016), but he came up short in this area in 2017 (.355) and 2018 (.325). His AVH (1.691) continues to rise with success against lefties (.282 with seven HRs and seven RBI over 156 at-bats). Tim had a tough year in 2018 against RH pitching (.224 with 13 HRs and 47 RBI over 411 at-bats). His swing path did show growth in each of his last two year in the majors leading to a career-high fly rate (33.5) in 2018 with repeated value in his HR/FB rate (14.4 and 14.2). There’s a lot to like here especially with Chicago expected to have a better all-around starting lineup. Next step: .275 with 90+ runs, 25+ HRs, 75+ RBI, and 30+ SBs helping him move up the White Sox batting order.
Moncada appears to be overmatched in the majors after striking out 33.4 percent of the time in 2018. He did take some walks (10.3 percent) with a high enough CTBA (.377) to protect some of his downside in batting average. Overall, Yoan fell well below expectation in steals (111 stolen bases over 1,020 at-bats in the minors). Moncado struggled against both RH (.244 with 15 HRs and 15 RBI over 430 at-bats) and LH (.209 with two HRs and ten RBI over 148 at-bats). He tried to hit more fly balls (40.1) in the majors, but his HR/FB rate (11.7) was much lower than 2017 at AAA (16.2) and in the majors (18.2). His minor league resume (.285 with 212 runs, 35 HRs, 136 RBI, and 111 SBs over 1,020 at-bats). Growth should be expected in all areas, but his inability to make contact will invite more growing pains. Love his upside, but I can’t overpay for his speed potential and his batting average risk. Moncada has an ADP of 155 in the early draft season in the high-stakes market. Let’s set his bar at .250 with 80+ runs, 20+ HRs, 70+ RBI, and 30+ SBs while understanding his counting categories have much more upside with a better approach at the plate.
Over the last six weeks of 2018, Abreu missed all but six games with an abdomen issue that required surgery. An infection with the injury led to his being shut down over the last two weeks of the season. The lack of talent on the White Sox roster pushed his RBI chances (292 – 362 if he had 620 at-bats) to his lowest level of his career. His CTBA (.338) came in well below his previous resume with Chicago (.365 or higher in each season) while maintaining a high RBI rate (19). Jose has a below-par walk rate (6.7) with a slight step back in his K rate (19.7). He had the most success against LH pitching (.290 with five HRs and 19 RBI over 100 at-bats). Abreu isn’t a big fly ball hitter (33.6 percent in his career). His HR/FB rate (16.1) fell short of his first two seasons in the majors (26.9 and 19.7) over the last three years. Nice steady run producer who would be helped by a better supporting cast. If Manny Machado does truly land in Chicago, Jose will have many more RBI chance while gaining some spunk in his power stroke. His floor should be a .290 hitter with 85+ runs, 25+ HRs, and 100+ RBI.
Jimenez is on the verge of reaching the majors after playing well at AA and AAA in 2018 (.337 over 416 at-bats with 22 HRs and 75 RBI). Over five seasons in the minors, Eloy hit .311 with 232 runs, 65 HRs, 281 RBI, and 15 SBs over 1,563 at-bats. His K rate (18.2) is better than the league average with a shallow walk rate (6.9). Jimenez had no problem at AAA (.355 with 12 HR and 33 RBI over 228 at-bats), which puts him on the fast track to left field with the White Sox. Eloy started last year with strained pectoral muscle while ending his season in winter ball with a quad issue. A Fantasy owner has to be attracted to his ability to hit for average while also expecting massive growth in power. In the high-stakes market, Fantasy owners are drafting him as though he already has a full-time starting job (ADP - 109). Bet on the come type player. Upside of .300/80/25/80 in his rookie season if he gets 500 at-bats. His spring training news will be key to his true early season value. I don't want to overpay for a player they may not be called up until June. If he comes quickly, the White Sox will have a fun middle of the batting order in 2019.
Even with a career-high in at-bats (516), Alonso fell short of his 2017 season (.266 with 72/28/67) in runs (64), HRs (23), and batting average (.250). Both his AVH (1.682) and CTBA (.328) were above his career averages, but a pullback from last year (1.883 and .360). Yonder had the most production in April (eight HRs and 21 RBI over 94 at-bats) and July (.302 over 86 at-bats with six HRs and 21 RBI). His swing may not be strong enough to be in the lineup every day against lefties (.227 with four HRs and 19 RBI over 128 at-bats), but he did improve in this area from 2017 (.181 with five HRs and ten RBI over 72 at-bats). Alonso had a much better swing path in 2017 and 2018 leading to a high rate in fly balls (43.2 and 40.1) with a big step forward in his HR/FB rate (19.4 in 2017 and 14.5 in 2018). I only see about 450 at-bats with a 60/15/60 skill set, but Yonder may hit his way into more playing time. Last season his walk rate (8.9) regressed with a slight improvement in his K rate (21.4). Alonso clearly wants to hit more home runs, so he prove to be a value DH option deep leagues.
Before coming to the majors in 2018, Palka was a neutral hitter (.270) in the minors with 109 HRs, 361 RBI, and 48 SBs over 2,134 at-bats. His slower path to the big leagues was tied to his high K rate (26.6) while showing the ability to take walks (10.5). With the White Sox last year, Daniel had a huge K rate (34.1) with a step down in his walk rate (6.7). His bat offered minimal value against lefties (.200 with two HRs and six RBI over 75 at-bats). Palka produces some nice stats over the last three months of the year (.242 with 20 HRs and 43 RBI over 244 at-bats) earning another shot with Chicago in 2019. His HR/FB rate (27.0) was the best of his career at any level, but it was in line with his success in 2016 at AA (26.6) and AAA (25.0). Last year his fly ball rate (37.9) was below some of his best seasons in the minors. Nice power stroke with 30+ HR upside with 500+ at-bats, but I can’t see that happening with his questionable value against lefties. Also, his K rate could lead to job loss risk.
Over the first 33 games, Castillo hit .267 with six HRs and 15 RBI over 116 at-bats. He killed Fantasy teams over next three months after receiving an 80-game suspension for failing a drug test (performance-enhancing drug). Even with the summer off, Welington landed on the DL with a right shoulder injury. His K rate (25.4) remains a liability while almost matching his career average (25.2) while showing regression in his walk rate (5.0). His AVH (1.568), CTBA (.355), and RBI rate (9) all came in his below his previous two seasons. When back on the field in September, Castillo struggled to repeat his previous magic (.241 over 54 at-bats with no HRs and five RBI). His squirrelly path points mid-teen home runs if his swing doesn’t need extra juice to get the ball over the fence with short runs and downside risk in batting average. On draft day, I won’t fight for him as a backend top 15 catching option.
Last year Sanchez set a career high in at-bats (600), which was almost 20 percent higher than 2017. Even with more playing time, his stats fell below his production last year in four categories. Yolmer doesn’t appear to be an option to bat leadoff based on his low batting average (.242) and weakness in his CTBA (.314). His on-base percentage (.306) was 64 percentage points higher than his average, which plays much better if he reach his minor league success in batting average (.284). Sanchez showed some improvement in his walk rate (7.4) with about a league average K rate (20.9). He struggled against lefties (.194 BAA with no HRs over 134 at-bats) suggesting a platoon role if not corrected in 2019. Over his last 379 at-bats, Yolmer only hit .219 with five HRs, 28 RBI, and nine SBs. His swing path regressed (48.8 percent ground ball rate) leading to a shorter HR/FB rate (6.0 – 9.4 in 2018). Enough talent to surprise while being priced low on draft day. Outside chance at a neutral batting average with 70+ runs and RBI with a 15/15 skill set in power and speed.
Other than batting average (.285 in his career), there isn't a ton of excitement in Jay's skill set. Over his last five seasons, Jon only has 11 HRs, 156 RBI, and 18 SBs in 1,876 at-bats. His K rate (16.2) tend to be better than the league average while having regression in his walk rate (5.6). His major league experience may lead to the playing time edge in centerfield for the White Sox, but I expect many nights with empty stats. Weak bench player at best on Fantasy teams while not worthy of a major league starting job.
James McCann (C) – McCann takes over as the backup catcher in Chicago after regressing in 2018 (.220 with eight HRs and 39 RBI over 427 at-bats). Over five years in the majors, James hit .240 with 40 HRs and 177 RBI over 1,536 at-bats. Possible double-digit power if given 350+ at-bats. Last year his K rate (25.4) was his highest since 2016 (29.2) while talk fewer walks (5.7 percent).
Jose Rondon (SS) – Jose hit .285 over eight seasons in the minors with 37 HRs, 299 RBI, and 81 SBs over 2,516 at-bats. Last year his power made a step forward at AAA (.250 with 18 HRs and 38 RBI over 312 at-bats) leading to 100 at-bats in the majors (.230 with six HRs and 14 RBI), but Rondon did strikeout 28.0 percent of the time with the White Sox (15.1 percent in his minor league career). Possible utility infielder or even a switch to centerfield where his bat would play better than the emptiness of Jon Jay.
Leury Garcia (OF) – Garcia hit .271 over his last two seasons in the majors coving 558 at-bats with 64 runs, 13 HRs, 65 RBI., and 20 SBs. His combination of power and speed give him a chance at earning more at-bats with only a bump of success. His approach (K rate – 23.0 and walk rate – 3.7) won’t invite a starting job without an injury. Over ten years in the minors, Garcia hit .274 with 24 HRs, 219 RBI, and 206 SBs over 2,510 at bats. Sneaky injury cover in the season-long games.
In 2017, a late spring training left biceps issue led to Rodon becoming undraftable in the season-long games. He missed almost the first three months of the season. When he returned on June 28th, Carlos battled bouts of wildness (4.0 walk rate) and whiplash (12 HRs - 1.6 per nine innings). His season ended in early September with a left shoulder injury that required surgery to a bursitis issue. Last year Carlos made his first appearance of the year on June 9th. Over his first 14 starts, he allowed two runs or fewer in 11 games leading to a 6-3 record with a 2.70 ERA, 71 Ks, and .178 BAA over 93.1 innings. His finals stats finished with weakness after getting drilled in September (28 runs, 58 baserunners, and five HRs over 27.1 innings). Rodon finished with poor walk rate (4.1) and his lowest K rate (6.7) in his career (drop of 2.5 Ks per nine from his previous three seasons). Most of his success came against RH batters (.213) while showing some disaster risk against vs. lefties (.245 with six HRs allowed over 94 at-bats). His AFB (93.0) was just below his career average (93.3). Carlos throws a slider (.117 BAA) as his best pitch. His changeup (.246 BAA), sinker (.254 BAA), and four-seam fastball (.258 BAA) all need work especially in his command. Coin flip for me, his arm screams upside while his injuries over the last two years invite more missed time highlighted by his bad ending to 2018. If Carlos figures out his command and stays healthy, he has ace upside. With an ADP of 271, he works as a backend starter with a chance at a sub 3.75 ERA and 175+ Ks with 30 starts.
This young upside arm wasn’t a fun ride in 2018. He walked the most batters (90) in the American League leading to the most runs (118) allowed as well and a massive ERA (6.13). After showing winning command (2.4 walk rate) over seven starts with Chicago late in 2017, his walk rate exploded to 4.7) with weak K rate (6.5). Lucas did help some Fantasy owners over his last four starts in August (3-0 with a 2.84 ERA and 27 Ks over 25.1 innings), but he drove the season home with a poor September (9.27 ERA). Over his 32 starts, Giolito allowed four runs or more 15 times. RH batters only hit .227 against him, but they did hit 18 HRs over 321 at-bats. Lucas needs to find a pitch to help his success against lefties (.271 BAA). His AFB (92.4) is league average while offering a slider (.183 BAA) and changeup (.212 BAA) of value. Over his six seasons in the minors, Giolito went 31-25 with a 3.18 ERA and 531 Ks over 497.2 innings with a much stronger K rate (9.6) while his K rate (3.3) came in below average. Live arm in 2019, as he could come quickly if he throws more strikes. It all starts with his first pitch strike rate (55). He reasonable chance at a 3.75 ERA and 150+ Ks with 180 innings pitch. I expect continued risk in his WHIP until he cleans up his command.
Lopez started to climb the pitching mountain in 2018. He tossed a career-high 188.2 innings with the White Sox with growth in his ERA (3.91). His walk rate (3.6) remains a liability restricting his value in Ks (7.2 per nine). He pitched his best ball of the season over the last seven starts (1.38 ERA, 48 Ks, and .173 BAA over 45.2 innings), which is a nice sign heading into 2019. Reynaldo started the year with a 3.26 ERA over his first 77.1 innings with 54 Ks and a low BAA (.215), but he walked too many batters (34). His stuff played better against lefties (.220 BAA). Lopez had an edge fastball (95.5) with batters hitting .236 against it. His best pitch in 2018 was his slider (.194 BAA), which is a pitch he added last year at the expense of his curveball. His minor league resume (3.34 ERA and 434 Ks over 428.2 innings) points to more upside with growth in his command. If he shaves off 15 to 20 walks over 200 innings pitching, Lopez should strikeout 175+ batters with a push toward a 3.50 ERA. His ADP should come in at about 250 in 2019 in 15-team leagues in the high-stakes market.
Last year Santana suffered a finger injury in early February that required surgery and eventually all of the 2018 season. He struggled in his limited innings with a drop in velocity on his pitches. The White Sox signed him to a minor league deal with the hopes Ervin can bridge the gap until some of their young arms develop. Here’s a look at last year’s profile to give a Fantasy owner a feel for his direction before his injury:
Santana had his best season of his career in 2017 in ERA (3.28). Over his last two years with the Twins, Ervin went 23-19 with a 3.32 ERA and 316 Ks over 392.2 innings. His walk rate (2.6) was above his career average (2.8) in back-to-back seasons with a slight drop-off in his K rate (7.1). Santana did struggle with home runs (1.3 per nine). Over his first six starts, he went 5-0 with a 0.66 ERA and 33 Ks over 41 innings. Ervin had a battle between stud and disaster over his next 11 starts (two complete-game shutouts, and no runs over 13 innings in two other starts plus 34 runs and 60 baserunners over 31.1 innings. Santana did allow over four runs over his last 17 starts leading to a 3.51 ERA and 81 Ks over 100 innings. His stuff had value against both RH (.234 BAA) and LH (.215 BAA) batters. His AFB (93.4) has been in a tight area over the last nine seasons. Ervin continues to have an elite slider (.154 BAA) and success with his four-seam fastball (.246 BAA). He allowed 19 of his 35 HRs off his four-seamer. Both his sinker (.333 BAA) and changeup (.280 BAA) were below league average pitches. Veteran arm whose pitched his best ball over the last five seasons (3.52 ERA and 1.207 WHIP).
At age 36, his arm doesn’t have upside, but he does have enough experience to get major league batters out with a rebound in his fastball. Worth a late flier based on his career resume while being replaceable if he stumbles out of the gate.
Over his last three seasons in the majors, Nova went 32-31 with a 4.16 ERA and 372 Ks over 510 innings. Even with growth in his walk rate (1.7) over this span, Ivan offers no upside in Ks (6.6 per nine). His HR/9 rate (1.5) regressed in each of the last three seasons. Nova struggled with lefties (.288 with 14 HRs allowed over 306 at-bats). Throughout a long season, Ivan did pitch well in April (3.32 ERA, June (1.75 ERA), and September (3.10 ERA), but his other three months led to losing results (7.61, 5.33, and 4.44 ERA). His AFB (92.9) has been in a tight range over the last four seasons. When at his best, Nova features a plus curveball (.153 BAA) with his disaster tied to his changeup (.343 BAA) and sinker (.304 BAA). The move to a more hitter-friendly park can’t be a positive. Low-grade inning eater who will be tough to time. I also don’t like the drop in his first pitch strike rate (57).
Most of the top young arms in the White Sox system have command issues, which isn’t the case with Dunning. Over three seasons in the minors, Dane has 17-13 record with a 2.74 ERA and 300 Ks over 266 innings. His walk rate (2.4) looks major league ready with strength as well in his K rate (10.2). Last year he made 11 starts at AA with success (2.76 ERA and 69 Ks over 62 innings), which should have led to a call up to AAA. Unfortunately, a sprained right elbow ended his season in late June. Elbow injuries can be tricky, so hopefully, his issue is minor. At age 24, I expect him to year at AAA while having the talent to seize the fifth starting job in Chicago sometime in late spring. He brings to the table a sinking fastball plus a slider and changeup with plus upside.
After struggling to win games in 2017 (1-10) despite a 3.28 ERA, Cease showed growth between High A and AA last year (12-2 with a 2.40 ERA and 160 Ks over 124 innings). His K rate (11.9) has been elite in his minor league career while still trying to find his command (walk rate - 4.2). Last year he did have the lowest walk rate (3.6) of his young career. Overall, Dylan has a 2.67 ERA over four seasons in the minors with 377 Ks over 286 innings. In 2018, batters only hit .198 against him. His fastball sits in the mid-90s while featuring a curveball with upside. Cease needs to find a third pitch to have consistent success in the majors. This season he'll pitch at AAA with a chance at a mid-season call up to the majors. His command will be the key to his movement forward.
Over his first two seasons in the minors, Hansen went 13-9 with a 2.39 ERA and 272 Ks over 196 innings. His K rate (12.5) was electric with some work needed in his walk rate (3.3). In 2017, Alec pushed his way to AA where his game wasn’t ready to make an impact (4.35 ERA with 17 Ks over 10.1 innings). Last year a right forearm issue early in the year led to a lost season (6.31 ERA over 51.1 innings) with more walks (59) than Ks (55). His college resume (8-12 with a 4.53 ERA and 185 Ks over 145 innings) wasn't impressive due to health and command issues. HIs fastball can reach the upper 90s with a plus slider and edge curveball. Also, Hansen throws a changeup with upside. The key here is better command. In 2019, Alec will need to prove himself at AA before making his push toward the majors. Too early to roster, but a Fantasy owner needs to follow his spring progress closely to determine if he’ll be relevant Fantasy option.
For the second straight year, Herrera struggled to deliver on his expected value in saves. His season started off well over his first 27 games with the Royals (1.05 ERA and 22 Ks over 25.2 innings) while converting 14 of his 16 saves. After a trade to the Nationals, Kelvin pitched poor over 19 games (4.76 ERA, 15 Ks, ad four HRs over 17 innings). He finished the year on the DL with a left foot injury that required surgery in early September. Over his last three seasons, Herrera has 7-12 record with a 3.18 ERA, 180 Ks, and 55 SVs over 175.2 innings). Last year his K rate (7.7) regressed for the second straight season despite an elite fastball (96.5 – career low). Kelvin has a plus slider (.207 BAA) with questions with the value of his four-seam fastball (.254 BAA) and changeup (.286 BAA). In the past, his changeup has been an edge pitch. Tough call here, his arm has the upside and foundation to close, but Herrera never seems to take the opportunity and run with it. Chicago paid him $16 million over the two seasons, which puts him first in line for saves. Possible sub 3.00 ERA with 75+ Ks and 35+ saves while making sure to buy his insurance card.
After picking up 84 saves in 2016 and 2017 with a 2.63 ERA and 129 Ks over 123.1 innings, the Rays killed Fantasy owners by trading him to Seattle. Alex started the year with 11 successful saves in 13 chances with weakness in his ERA (3.04). With the Mariners, he looked closer-worthy (2.53 ERA and 49 Ks over 56.1 innings) with the exception of home runs allowed (six). Both his walk rate (2.8) and K rate (9.5) beat his career averages. His AFB (95.1) matched his career best while having his best edge with his cutter (.216 BAA). Last year Colome dominated lefties (.171 BAA), but his risk against RH batters (.274 BAA) does paint a setup role. The previous two years, he held righties to a much lower batting average (2016 – .221 and 2017 – .236). His closing experience still gives him a chance to close for the White Sox. If I’m drafting Herrera, I would make sure to roster Alex for insurance.
After having TJ surgery twice early in his career, Fry made a nice transition to the White Sox bullpen last year. He finished with a below-par ERA (4.38), but his WHIP (1.110) and K rate (12.3) painted much more upside. An early July slump (eight runs and nine baserunners over 3.2 innings) put him in a hole in ERA. Even with many good days over the second half of the year, Jace still posted a poor ERA (4.70) over his last 23 innings despite batters hitting .207 against him over this span with 35 Ks in 23 innings. He dominated lefties (.143 BAA) with success as well against RB batters (.234 BAA). His AFB (92.9) is league average while offering an edge slider (.169 BAA) and curveball (.169 BAA) followed by a low volume changeup (.111 BAA) with value. Nice left bullpen arm with closing upside with growth in his command (walk rate - 3.5).
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