From the A.L. East, we move to the Central, and take a look at the Chicago White Sox. First up, Kevin Youkilis. Mr. Youkilis should be 1B/3B eligible next year, which will continue to make him a favorite in fantasy leagues. I think owners need to take a good long look, though, before drafting him too high, because I am not convinced he will return as much value as a round ten or higher draft position assumes. 2012 marked the first season since 2008 Mr. Youkilis had more than 500 PA’s, but there has been too much missed time in those middle three years to make me comfortable projecting more than 400 PA’s. Counting stats? Kevin’s owners got 19 HR’s, 72 runs, and 60 RBI in 2012. Considering the above plate appearance comment, I think that is a ceiling. Combined with his lowest PX since 2006 (110) and his age (34 on opening day), I look for lower totals in each of those areas for 2013. Batting average? I think this will improve. Mr. Youklils continues to walk at a 10% rate, and his contact rate is still serviceable (kinda-sorta) at 75%. Given that, I would look for a BA closer to .261, than the .235 from 2012. He’ll produce, just not in the way his name and reputation might imply. Draft him as your corner infielder, then draft (or at least think about) a backup, and you will be OK. Anything more and you may be disappointed.
Next up, SS, Alexei Ramirez. Was 2012 a down year for Alexei, or at 31, are we seeing the beginning of a decline? In 2012, Alexei owners were treated to career-lows in HR, runs, and BA, but a career high 20 stolen bags. His BABIP and CT% were about what you might expect (.290 and 87.6%, respectively, but walked an insanely low 2.6% of the time. What gives? Shouldn’t we see some plate patience, with that experience? Not so with Mr. Ramirez. However, at 31, while I am not ready to completely write-off Mr. Ramirez, I will not pay for a rebound in 2013. With such a nice contact rate and four out of four seasons (2008 – 2011) of 15+ HRs, I expected .271 and 15 HRs in 2012. But 9 HRs really surprised me. His PX of 61 is roughly the same as 2009 when he hit 15 HRs, but much lower than 2011 (82), when he hit 15 HR. Those are a lot of stats, and I really did not say much. (Those close to me will not be surprised by that.) So, what does all that mean? While his HR/FB also declined, I think we may be seeing a new norm for Mr. Ramirez. When I see 15 HR from a player, I am more likely to believe it will repeat if I see that PX of 82, than one at 61. Additionally, even if his plate patience rebounds, he has never walked more than 8.1% of the time, and I am not comfortable projecting more than a 5.3 (career average) BB%, which equates to roughly a .263 BA. He has had double digit SBs in four of his five major league seasons, who, I will continue to look for that in 2013, but, that is all the good news I have regarding a rebound. I will project 8 HRs, 17 SBs, and a .263 BA. Certainly serviceable as a middle infielder, but I think you have better starting options at SS, even in a deep league.
Let’s finish with starting pitcher Jose Quintana. As you prepare for next year’s draft, and you take a look at starting pitchers, you will see Jose’s 6 wins and 81 K’s, and yawn. If you are lucky, so will the owners you draft against. Let’s take a closer look. Mr. Quintana started the year in AA and, without the necessary stop in AAA, was promoted the Big’s. Whenever you see something like that, it is a red flag. You will have the outlier that occasionally works out, to which folks will point, and mutter nonsense about how anyone should be able to make that jump, but, overall, it is what this apprentice analyst likes to call, bad. Jose started his major league career well enough in 2012, but just fell off in the second half. His ERA and WHIP ballooned from 2.19/1.07 to 4.66/1.51, his CTL (bb/9) went from 1.6 to 3.4, and, throughout 2012, he never did get his DOM (K/9) out of the 5.3-5.4 range. That, however, was to be expected. Without the chance to test his skills in AAA, Jose did not have the necessary time to adjust before coming to the majors. Down the stretch, he did what lots of rookie pitchers do; he wore down. Prior to 2012, he most innings he pitched in a season was 102.0. He began 2012 with 48.2 IP in AA, so he had about 60 IP left in that arm, for the year. He hit that 60 mark in mid-July. 2013? Look for a little more endurance, but don’t think you will get 175 quality IP. Once he gets around 130, start to look for trading partners. Overall, Jose’s minor league K/9 of above 7.00 makes me confident in a DOM north of 6.5 and his bb/9 should stay south of 3.00. For a second year pitcher, that is not bad; and if you are in a dynasty or keeper league, you may be able to snag him on the cheap, and enjoy a quality back of the rotation pitcher for a few years.
Did I miss any ChiSox that you would like me to review? Leave a comment; I’ll do my best.