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2016 Team Previews: Chicago White Sox

Throughout the long, cold offseason, I am doing team by team previews to get you ready for the 2016 fantasy baseball season. Today it's the White Sox.

Trayce Thompson is one source of hope for the future of the Pale Hose.
Trayce Thompson is one source of hope for the future of the Pale Hose.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to my 2016 fantasy team previews. I will be breaking down 2016 prospects for the relevant fantasy players on all 30 teams, one team at a time. Check back throughout the offseason for new team previews. You can catch up on old ones in my archive (here) or in the section (here). Because there are 30 teams to cover in limited time, I have to get started now, even though there will certainly be some trades that move players around and open up larger roles for existing players. Also, free agents and guys that moved midseason will be analyzed with one of the teams they played for, even though they likely (or definitely) won't be on that team in 2016 so they don't get missed. Hopefully you can bear with me on those issues and remember that these were written before those trades occurred.

I am starting at the bottom of the standings and working my way up. In each team preview, I will attempt to follow the same layout. First, there will be two tables of stats for hitters (showing stats acquired while playing for this team; traded players will be missing some stats) followed by quick analysis of the most fantasy relevant of those hitters (relevance at my discretion). After that, two tables for the pitching stats and some pitcher analysis. I will then present one breakout player (aka sleeper) and one breakdown player (or bust, if you prefer) for the team. Got it? Ok, let's get started.

Chicago White Sox

Hitters

Name Position PA HR R RBI SB CS BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
Trayce Thompson OF 135 5 17 16 1 0 9.60% 19.30% 0.295 0.363 0.533
Jose Abreu 1B 668 30 88 101 0 0 5.80% 21.00% 0.29 0.347 0.502
Adam Eaton OF 689 14 98 56 18 8 8.40% 19.00% 0.287 0.361 0.431
Geovany Soto C 210 9 20 21 0 1 10.00% 30.00% 0.219 0.301 0.406
Melky Cabrera OF 683 12 70 77 3 0 5.90% 12.90% 0.273 0.314 0.394
J.B. Shuck OF 165 0 15 15 7 5 9.70% 9.70% 0.266 0.34 0.35
Avisail Garcia OF 601 13 66 59 7 7 6.00% 23.50% 0.257 0.309 0.365
Tyler Flowers C 361 9 21 39 0 1 5.80% 28.80% 0.239 0.295 0.356
Adam LaRoche 1B 484 12 41 44 0 0 10.10% 27.50% 0.207 0.293 0.34
Alexei Ramirez SS 622 10 54 62 17 7 5.00% 10.90% 0.249 0.285 0.357
Conor Gillaspie 3B 185 3 10 15 0 1 4.90% 18.40% 0.237 0.276 0.364
Gordon Beckham 3B, 2B* 237 6 24 20 0 1 8.00% 18.10% 0.209 0.275 0.332
Micah Johnson 2B 114 0 10 4 3 2 7.90% 26.30% 0.23 0.306 0.27
Tyler Saladino 3B 254 4 33 20 8 2 4.70% 20.10% 0.225 0.267 0.335
Carlos Sanchez 2B 420 5 40 31 2 2 4.50% 19.30% 0.224 0.268 0.326

Name BABIP LD% GB% FB% HR/FB SwStr% Soft% Med% Hard% ESPN Player Rater
Trayce Thompson 0.341 29.20% 38.50% 32.30% 16.10% 10.30% 26.00% 45.80% 28.10% -1.34
Jose Abreu 0.333 20.70% 47.30% 32.10% 19.70% 11.40% 16.70% 49.00% 34.40% 7.98
Adam Eaton 0.345 22.00% 50.70% 27.30% 10.90% 7.00% 20.40% 53.90% 25.70% 7.34
Geovany Soto 0.278 22.80% 37.40% 39.80% 18.40% 10.90% 14.40% 52.00% 33.60% -2.08
Melky Cabrera 0.297 23.90% 46.30% 29.90% 7.30% 5.60% 15.70% 57.10% 27.10% 4.02
J.B. Shuck 0.295 18.00% 57.00% 25.00% 0.00% 5.50% 30.30% 53.80% 15.90% -1.53
Avisail Garcia 0.32 24.50% 48.80% 26.70% 11.70% 17.30% 19.00% 52.20% 28.90% 2.94
Tyler Flowers 0.32 17.10% 46.90% 36.00% 11.00% 13.70% 19.10% 50.00% 30.90% -1.30
Adam LaRoche 0.269 17.60% 42.90% 39.50% 10.30% 10.80% 12.10% 54.00% 33.90% -1.66
Alexei Ramirez 0.264 21.40% 49.50% 29.10% 6.60% 7.00% 24.10% 54.80% 21.10% 3.24
Conor Gillaspie 0.275 20.00% 45.70% 34.30% 6.30% 10.80% 18.40% 59.60% 22.00% -2.70
Gordon Beckham 0.229 19.20% 45.30% 35.50% 9.80% 7.10% 27.20% 52.00% 20.80% -2.64
Micah Johnson 0.329 21.50% 58.50% 20.00% 0.00% 9.50% 30.60% 51.40% 18.10% -3.08
Tyler Saladino 0.269 23.00% 53.60% 23.50% 9.30% 7.00% 23.80% 58.20% 18.00% -1.15
Carlos Sanchez 0.27 22.80% 54.10% 23.10% 7.00% 9.50% 21.60% 56.20% 22.20% -1.79

*Will lose this eligibility in 2016

**The ESPN player rater is based on a player's standard 5 x 5 category performance relative to average. A score of 0 is replacement level and negative values mean the player is actually hurting your team. Values in the 1-2 range generally are for your worst starting player, unless you are unlucky. There are no positional adjustments, though, so shortstops and catchers will often have very low scores relative to everyone else. It is normalized so that guys with little playing time can be compared to guys that played all year.

Analysis

So, this is one of the worst offenses in baseball and it shows. This is only second to the Phillies in terms of having the fewest relevant fantasy hitters. Ok, maybe the Brewers are on that list too. Still, this is pretty bad. At least you've got Jose Abreu and his continued excellence. Sure, he didn't dominate like he did in 2014, but he was still #7 among first basemen on ESPN and was a boost in four categories, with a great average, above average power, and great runs and RBI hitting in the middle of the lineup every day. I see no reason not to draft him as the #6 first baseman (maybe even #5) next year. I don't trust Eric Hosmer (who finished #6 on ESPN) to repeat his season.

Adam Eaton had the season I've been waiting for. This is what I expected him to be in previous years. A little bit of power, a little bit of speed, a good OBP, and lots of runs scored. He is a well-balanced leadoff hitter. If he can stay healthy in 2016, I think he can repeat 2015's stats, but not improve much on them. His high BABIP isn't necessarily due to luck since he has kept it up for over 1100 plate appearances and two seasons, he is young, and he has some speed.

Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia, despite a big age gap, put up similar seasons and show little hope for 2016. Garcia's problems stem from too many grounders, a lack of power, and awful plate discipline. While Cabrera's problems come from a lack of power, age, and the fact that his average isn't high enough anymore to make up for those shortcomings. I don't see upside for either next year and would steer clear. Garcia is still young but hasn't shown any growth.

Adam LaRoche was a shell of himself and is only a platoon option at this point in AL-only leagues. Alexei Ramirez is a top-20 SS, but not top-15 and is already 34 years old and will lose speed as he ages. He relies on double-digit homers and steals to be valuable, since his average and OBP are not helpful at all. With a decline in steals, he will struggle to be even top 20 at the position in 2016. He's a free agent, so we don't know where he will play next year.

Micah Johnson was given the second base position but struggled and lost it. He has excellent speed, but can't hit or defend well enough to stay afloat. If he can't hit or get on base, his speed is useless, so you should stay away until he gets things figured out.

I'll leave one more fantasy-relevant hitter until later.

The White Sox prospects to watch for 2016 are: Tim Anderson (SS), Courtney Hawkins (OF), and Jacob May (OF). Anderson is clearly the best of the group and is the #1 prospect in the Sox system. He profiles like a younger Alexei Ramirez, who he will almost certainly replace at some point in 2016. He has a little power, an above average hit tool, and plus plus speed. He could be a top-15 SS by the end of the season. That is always worth watching. He could win the starting job in spring training.

Hawkins is a little bit farther away from the majors and much slower, but he has plus power. He could debut late in the year, but his other tools are just average or worse, so his power is the primary reason you should care about him and you shouldn't get too excited. Another guy with one skill we care about is May. He has no power, but near top-of-the-scale speed and his father and grandfather played in MLB. He's a switch hitter and might debut this year. He will only be useful for steals at this point, if that.

Pitchers

Name Position IP ERA FIP xFIP WHIP BABIP LOB% GB% SwStr%
Matt Albers RP 37.1 1.21 3.48 3.66 1.07 0.259 95.10% 58.60% 6.70%
Erik Johnson SP, RP* 35 3.34 5.93 5.2 1.4 0.253 92.80% 23.80% 8.20%
Jose Quintana SP 206.1 3.36 3.18 3.51 1.27 0.327 76.30% 47.10% 9.30%
Chris Sale SP 208.2 3.41 2.73 2.6 1.09 0.323 73.20% 42.60% 14.60%
David Robertson RP 63.1 3.41 2.52 2.27 0.93 0.273 65.70% 35.60% 14.10%
Zach Duke RP 60.2 3.41 4.62 3.59 1.3 0.262 80.70% 58.30% 11.20%
Scott Carroll RP, SP* 36.2 3.44 3.68 4.14 1.45 0.325 69.60% 59.30% 9.30%
Jacob Petricka RP 52 3.63 3.46 3.76 1.42 0.325 74.80% 65.20% 9.40%
Carlos Rodon SP, RP 139.1 3.75 3.87 4.03 1.44 0.315 75.40% 46.80% 10.10%
Dan Jennings RP 56.1 3.99 3.47 3.62 1.4 0.304 68.20% 65.10% 8.80%
Zach Putnam RP 48.2 4.07 4.1 3.44 1.36 0.31 76.40% 43.90% 16.90%
John Danks SP 177.2 4.71 4.49 4.65 1.41 0.305 68.10% 38.20% 9.00%
Jeff Samardzija SP 214 4.96 4.23 4.31 1.29 0.303 67.20% 39.00% 9.80%
Daniel Webb RP 30 6.3 5.27 5.39 2.1 0.373 63.60% 50.50% 11.20%
Hector Noesi RP, SP 32.2 6.89 6.23 5.61 1.78 0.318 67.10% 39.50% 11.20%

Name SV HLD K% BB% Soft% Med% Hard% ESPN Player Rater
Matt Albers 0 6 18.80% 6.00% 26.10% 50.50% 23.40% 0.83
Erik Johnson 0 0 19.90% 11.30% 14.60% 47.60% 37.90% -0.68
Jose Quintana 0 0 20.50% 5.10% 16.80% 55.90% 27.30% 4.30
Chris Sale 0 0 32.10% 4.90% 21.00% 53.70% 25.30% 8.48
David Robertson 34 0 34.40% 5.20% 20.10% 47.70% 32.20% 6.94
Zach Duke 1 26 25.90% 12.60% 21.60% 54.30% 24.20% 0.36
Scott Carroll 0 0 16.70% 8.00% 23.50% 55.50% 21.00% -1.31
Jake Petricka 2 12 15.00% 8.20% 22.60% 54.80% 22.60% -0.42
Carlos Rodon 0 0 22.90% 11.70% 19.30% 52.70% 28.00% 1.53
Dan Jennings 0 4 18.90% 9.80% 25.90% 53.50% 20.70% -1.05
Zach Putnam 0 6 30.20% 11.30% 20.80% 49.20% 30.00% -0.39
John Danks 0 0 16.20% 7.30% 19.50% 52.50% 28.00% -0.60
Jeff Samardzija 0 0 17.90% 5.40% 18.70% 54.70% 26.70% 1.33
Daniel Webb 0 0 14.70% 14.70% 21.90% 48.60% 29.50% #N/A
Hector Noesi 0 0 14.30% 11.00% 25.40% 45.60% 29.00% #N/A

*If they were outside the top 550 pitchers on the player rater, they will show up as #N/A

Analysis

Chris Sale is excellent. Boring. His ERA was too high given his FIP and xFIP, so if you can get him even a couple spots lower in drafts next year, it will be an absolute steal. He deserves to be in the mix of top 4 pitchers. Kershaw, Scherzer, Arrieta, then Sale should be in the mix with Greinke, Cole, and deGrom. He is absolutely the best AL pitcher, with Felix slowing down quite a bit.

Jose Quintana is still underrated. He just keeps putting up season after season of above average, healthy baseball. The strikeouts aren't going to blow you away and the WHIP isn't very good, but everything else is rock solid. He is a classic very high floor pitcher. He doesn't have a high ceiling, but he is one of the most consistent pitchers around. Continue to draft him with confidence, expecting similar output in 2016.

Jeff Samard..Samardiz...well, you know who I'm talking about. He had an awful year in Chicago and is now a free agent. The strikeouts went down and the walks went up, and he was already prone to throwing too many hittable balls, so the result was an ERA very close to 5. Unfortunately, there isn't much hope in his peripheral numbers to point to a turnaround. He probably won't be this bad again, but an ERA around 4 is very likely. He needs to get his strikeout rate back up to 23% or more to have a chance of getting his ERA back to a respectable level.

The young Carlos Rodon and his terrifying slider had an up-and-down first year. Overall, he was the third best starter on the team and was near league average. For fantasy purposes, the strikeouts were pretty good, but the WHIP and walk rate were not. Unlike the Shark, there is hope here for improvement. The swinging strike rate is very good and if he can just cut down on the walks even a little, I expect the ERA to settle in the 3.5-3.6 range. His ceiling is even higher than that long term if he can continue to improve his command and control. He's got the raw stuff to get hitters to swing and miss and just needs some refinement. He could be a sneaky sleeper in drafts, now that the hype has died down some.

In the bullpen, there isn't much positive to note. David Robertson was his usual excellent self, closing games on a terrible team. He was actually unlucky based on his LOB% and the fact that his ERA was well above his FIP and xFIP. If anything, he should be better in 2016. Zach Putnam is my favorite of the rest of the 'pen. He had a strikeout rate not that far from Robertson's and had the best swinging strike rate on the team. He has control issues that keep him from becoming a top-10 setup man. Maybe this is the year he puts it together and becomes reliable, relievers can change a lot in one offseason. The strikeouts give him a nice upside that the rest of this bullpen doesn't have.

The White Sox have some serious rotation help coming up from the minors. Carson Fulmer has the highest upside (he could be a #1 starter), but probably won't debut in 2016. He is a good grab in dynasty leagues, but isn't a top priority for single-season leagues. Frankie Montas, however, will likely pitch a lot in 2016 and has a high ceiling of his own. He has a plus plus fastball. I like what I've seen so far, and the strikeouts will be there. If he can show decent control, he could certainly be a fantasy sleeper.

Tyler Danish is yet another starter likely to pitch in 2016. He doesn't have the upside of the others, but could be an innings-eater #4 starter type. Kind of like when Matt Garza was decent. He has good control and great sink on his fastball and changeup, which could lead to lots of grounders.

Breakout

Trayce Thompson

Carlos Rodon could easily share this spot, because I believe that he will do very well in 2016, but this goes to Klay Thompson's little brother in the outfield. He is the kind of player that gets overlooked. He didn't put up huge numbers in the minors, but he has scouting grades just above average in four tools and has a balance between speed and power. His very small sample of MLB experience is too small to draw conclusions from, but it was great. He is the 4th OF right now on the depth chart, but all three outfielders ahead of him are injury-prone, so he could easily see playing time. I'm not predicting a top-20 OF performance or anything, but he could be a top-40 outfielder that no one expected, kind of like Delino DeShields was this year. He's even got that athletic gene like DeShields and likely learned how to work hard from his brothers and dad, all pro athletes. That can't hurt.

Breakdown

Adam Eaton

If he can stay healthy, I said above that he can repeat his season from 2015. I believe that, but he is prone to a number of nagging injuries and that worries me. He is a good bet to miss a month or more in 2016, opening up a position for Thompson and hurting Eaton's season totals. For that reason, I'm going to label him a breakdown.

Check back soon for the next team preview as we keep moving up the standings. Tschus!