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2019 MLB Team Preview: Chicago White Sox

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A look at the Chicago White Sox with a fantasy baseball slant.

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox
Jose Abreu is currently being selected as a top-7 first base option
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Basic Stats:

Final Record: 62-100
RS/G: 4.05 (24th)
RA/G: 5.23 (29th)
SB: 98 (7th)
ERA: 4.85 (26th)
Saves: 34 (27th)
Strikeouts: 1259 (23rd)

RS/G - Runs Scored Per Game
RA/G - Runs Allowed Per Game

The next organization in our 2019 MLB Team Preview Series is the Chicago White Sox. Like the Orioles & Royals before them, the White Sox are another team who not only struggled to score runs, but also who gave up near-league leading runs per game. The White Sox are rumored to be looking at major additions this offseason. With a young core of prospects, coupled with some viable Major League players already rostered, the time to ramp up the quality of the Major League squad is now for the South Siders.

The Superstar: Jose Abreu

A somewhat injury-plagued year for Abreu in 2018 likely has some fantasy baseball owners concerned about his future production. The injuries included an infection in his thigh and surgery to his groin. That doesn’t sound fun. When Abreu was on the field (553 plate appearances) the production was close to what we’ve come to expect. The power metrics were still above average for Abreu, granted slightly reduced from prior levels. A near lock for a .300 batting average in previous years, Abreu’s 2018 batting average of .265 (.294 BABIP vs career .329 BABIP) was also slightly off from what many had projected last March. Abreu had also never failed to reach the 100 RBI mark in his previous four seasons. Reduced playing time due to injury, coupled with a poor team context are to blame for the drop. At 32 years old next season, Abreu could continue a gentle slide from his peak performances. A return to full health and an improved team around him could be enough to mask a slight decline for at least one more season, however. The current state of the first base position is such that Abreu will still be a highly sought after player in 2019 fantasy baseball drafts.

The Sleeper: Jace Fry

Our sleeper section takes us to the bullpen for the South Side White Sox. With only 34 saves in 2018, the White Sox aren’t exactly a prime target for the category. That said, in a category such as Saves where fantasy baseball owners are constantly looking for a handful here or there, Jace Fry could provide great value. Currently, the White Sox have Nate Jones penciled in at closer after exercising his first of three contract options. Nate Jones is a great arm when healthy, but that has been the major issue with him. Jones has only one full season over the last five seasons combined. Fry’s path to saves is not only based on the health of Jones. Jace Fry displayed impressive skills across the board over 51 1/3 Major League innings pitched in 2018.

Potential Chicago White Sox Closers

Player Team Age W SV IP SO ERA FIP xFIP WHIP BB/9 K/9 K/BB F-Strike% SwStr% GB% LD% FB% BABIP LOB% HR/9 HR/FB Soft% Med% Hard% K% BB% K-BB%
Player Team Age W SV IP SO ERA FIP xFIP WHIP BB/9 K/9 K/BB F-Strike% SwStr% GB% LD% FB% BABIP LOB% HR/9 HR/FB Soft% Med% Hard% K% BB% K-BB%
Jace Fry White Sox 24 2 4 51.1 70 4.38 2.67 2.95 1.11 3.51 12.27 3.5 61.7 % 14.9 % 45.4 % 21.0 % 33.6 % 0.277 57.3 % 0.7 10.0 % 15.4 % 59.3 % 25.2 % 32.7 % 9.4 % 23.4 %
Nate Jones White Sox 32 2 5 30 32 3.00 4.56 4.70 1.43 4.5 9.6 2.13 57.7 % 13.6 % 39.5 % 20.9 % 39.5 % 0.289 79.2 % 1.2 11.8 % 20.7 % 43.7 % 35.6 % 23.4 % 11.0 % 12.4 %
Data courtesy of FanGraphs

The Guy to Avoid: Carlos Rodon

Hope continues to run high for the former third overall pick (2014). After missing the first couple of months recovering from injury, Rodon pitched 120 2/3 innings of mixed results for the White Sox in 2018. A 4.18 ERA | 1.26 WHIP is far from elite, however, a FIP / xFIP of 4.95 | 5.40 shows just how much worse it could have been for Rodon last year. After sitting between 22-25 K% earlier in his career, that figure dropped to 17.6% in 2018. Making matters worse, Rodon’s swinging strike rate, which was essentially league average during his good years, confirms his stuff wasn’t fooling hitters. Besides, since the 2016 season Rodon has also displayed control issues throughout his time in the Major Leagues. A low first pitch strike percentage is a decent indicator for control and Rodon is below average on that front as well. A year removed from shoulder surgery could help Rodon regain some of his former self on the mound. Then again, Rodon has never been that great and shoulder surgery is certainly a scary procedure for both the athlete and to a much lesser extent, the fantasy baseball player investing in said athlete.

The Prospect to Watch: Eloy Jimenez

As if there was ever a doubt who The Prospect to Watch would be for the Chicago White Sox. Eloy Jimenez is the type of prospect that fantasy owners lose their mind over. With the way some young players have entered the league and hit the ground running, our excitement over Eloy could be well justified. At age 21, Eloy spent half the season at Double-A (228 plate appearances) where he hit 10 home runs along with a .317/.368/.556 triple slash. Upon moving to Triple-A (also 228 plate appearances) Eloy added another 12 home runs while slashing .355/.399/.597—elite production. Steamer Projections currently have the 22-year-old Eloy Jimenez hitting 21 home runs with a .293/.342/.502 triple slash over 485 plate appearances. The Depth Chart Projections have him projected for more playing time and counting statistics. In Early NFBC Drafts, Eloy Jimenez is being selected between pick 114 and 133—Round 7 or 8 in a 15-team mixed league.

Our 2019 MLB Preview series will run from late-November throughout the off-season. We will cover each team in reverse order of the 2018 Major League Baseball Standings. Because of the number of teams and time required to produce these posts, we’re needing to early; before all roster moves have been made. Because we strive to provide informative and useful fantasy baseball content, we will be updating these preview posts throughout the off-season as rosters continue to take their final shape.

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