White Sox Lineup a Step Up from Last Year

U.S. Cellular Field
U.S. Cellular Field

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here was very little to be proud of during the 2014 Chicago White Sox season. First Baseman Paul Konerko’s retirement tour and First Baseman Jose Abreu’s epic Rookie of the Year campaign were the lone highlights. But there was more lowlights during the very long season. The team ranked 27th in the league in fielding percentage and their bullpen always seemed to implode when the game was on the line.

It seemed as if the White Sox we’re going to go the rebuilding route and playoff contention was a pipe dream. But ownership surprised the league during the offseason with some big moves and White Sox fans have something to look forward to in 2015. Here is a rundown of the Chicago White Sox’s 2014 season.

Projected Lineup:
1. Adam Eaton—Center Field
2. Melky Cabrera—Left Field
3. Jose Abreu—First Base
4. Adam LaRoche—Designated Hitter
5. Avisail Garcia—Right Field
6. Conor Gillaspie—Third Base
7. Alexei Ramirez—Shortstop
8. Tyler Flowers—Catcher
9. Carlos Sanchez—Second Base

General Manager Rick Hahn had one of the busiest and successful offseasons in recent memory. In only his third season as GM, Hahn was able to revamp the lineup by adding proven hitters in Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche. Those players have proven themselves, but Tyler Flowers has still not shown that he is a durable hitter and the team’s high expectation of Right Field Avisail Garcia may not translate into success. But the lineup looks to be an improvement of last year’s squad which only had a .310 team on base percentage (20th in the league) and .253 team batting average (16th in the league). And the addition of utility players Emilio Bonifacio and Gordon Beckham should help keep the team refreshed during the season and not sacrifice any offense by subbing guys.

Project Rotation:
1. Chris Sale
2. Jeff Samardzija
3. Jose Quintana
4. John Danks
5. Hector Noesi

Pitching was the team’s biggest weakness in 2014. The Southsiders had a 4.29 team earned run average (27th in the league) and gave up 758 runs in the process. But as he did with the lineup, Hahn was able to vastly improve the team’s key weakness over the winter. The addition of ace right hander Jeff Samardzija give the White Sox a potent 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation with Chris Sale being the anchor. Jose Quintana is a perfect middle of the rotation pitcher as he has a career ERA of 3.50 and has logged at least 200 innings pitched the last two years. The key to success for the rotation will be health. John Danks has been bogged by shoulder problems the last few years and Sale recently fractured his foot during a “home accident.” Freak injuries are always a gem to read about and Sale’s is no different, as he landed awkwardly while unloading items out of his truck.

Whereas the rotation has highlights in Sale, the White Sox bullpen in 2014 was a complete disaster posting a disgusting 4.38 ERA and a win above replacement of 0.7. But Hahn once again solved the issue by signing left hander Zach Duke and closer David Robertson.

Outlook

Expectations are definitely high for the team this year, but they may not translate into a playoff appearance. The Cleveland Indians have definitely improved from 2014, the Detroit Tigers are always in contention, the Kansas City Royals were in the World Series last year and the Minnesota Twins have always been tough opponents for the White Sox. But that does not mean the team will not put up a fight in the coming year. Look for the team to finish third in the Central Division and achieve 78-82 wins for the season.

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