This should be a pretty simple preview format.
1. Juan Pierre - He's turning 34 years-old and his game has a lot speed-reliance to it, so the possibility of complete collapse is always on the table. Other than that, the numbers could be seen as offering a chance of improvement for Pierre. I mean, he can't go the first 31 games without an extra-base hit again, can he? The slugging percentage should increase...not to anything good, but above .316.
Triple Slash Line You Can't Hold Me To: .285/.342/.340
2. Gordon Beckham - A lot of the optimistic comparisons for Bacon--I donno, Ryne Sandbeg, Jeff Kent?--got thrown out the window and splattered on the ground after 2010's first half. Could someone be any good, while being capable of being that bad? A .581 OPS? An absolutely torrid 2nd half followed by a fairly bonkers Spring suggests he's back on the path to All-Stardom. Pass the kool-aid
Triple Slash Line You Can't Hold Me To: .290/.360/.470
Uh...I don't know who will hit 3rd, but I'll side with Rios because I prefer the concept of speed in front of the two mashers
3. Alex Rios
- On June 11th, Rios was sporting a .967 OPS, was out-hitting Paul
Konerko, and was from what I was told, dating my sister. Then he spent 3
1/2 months regressing to the mean. Beyond the ballooning
strikeout-rate and power-outage, Rios struck the ball solidly throughout
the 2nd half, even though his line drives barely cleared the infield.
His BABIP finished a touch under the norm for his prime years, and he's
young enough that large-scale regression shouldn't be considered just
Triple Slash Line You Can't Hold Me To: .285/.335/.470
4. Adam Dunn
- Sooooooo maybe we forked over $56 million to a 31 year-old slugger
coming off his worst season in 4 years. "Career-worst" is not the label
you want to see next to your newly acquired slugger's strikeout and
walk rates. U.S. Cellular's tiny right field should boost Dunn's power
numbers, but if he doesn't ditch whatever disastrous approach change
that zapped his plate discipline in 2010, there'll be a lot stronger
emphasis on how he's an upgrade at DH rather than the next great Sox
Triple Slash Line You Can't Hold Me To: .265/.360/.560
5. Paul Konerko -
Players like Paulie, who have career years that blow every other season
of their lives out of the water at age 34, make it difficult to make
projections. The most recent, and therefore most relevant, set of data
suggests a super-elite hitter, but general trends for aging suggests
that another 39 HR and 158 wRC+ isn't coming. It probably isn't.
Paulie's too old and 2010 was too good to expect anyone to replicate.
However, he is healthy, and will get all the days off he needs for the
2nd straight season.
Triple Slash Line You Can't Hold Me To: .275/.365/.530
6. Carlos Quentin
- Quentin is another guy that becomes hard to project because we have
seen his ceiling (best hitter in the league), and seen his floor
(mercurial, occasional masher who is an above-average run producer with
ugly traditional numbers), with no idea when or if he'll ever settle
into a comfortable middle. All of Quentin's useless contact (14.1% of
his contact was infield fly balls in 2010 and his career BABIP is .251)
makes it questionable whether he can be placed in the middle of the
order, but having a guy who can tear off and hit 5 HRs in a week seems
like some fine late-order pop.
Triple Slash Line You Can't Hold Me To: .250/.360/.500
7. A.J. Pierzynski - I categorically disagree with him hitting in
front of Alexei Ramirez. For the most part this is a rosy view of the
lineup, but Pierzynski had the worst offensive year of his career last
season, and hey, coincidentally, he was the oldest he's ever been with
the highest accumulated workload he's ever had last season too. A.J.'s
always been allergic to walks without much power. If he's really on the
decline now, he'll downgrade all the way from 'solid starter' to
'negligible caretaker' down to 'Tyler Flowers seat-warmer'.
Triple Slash Line You Can't Hold Me To: .260/.295/.380
8. Alexei Ramirez - One positive about Ramirez being relegated to the eight-slot rather than 7th, or 2nd, or leading off like Phil Rogers wants,
is that his hyper-streaky, free-swinging, take-the-cold-months off ways
would be maddening in almost any context, a .241 wOBA in April is less
awful when it's buried at the end of the lineup. While it's been widely
speculated that if Alexei ever adjusted to cold weather, he could
eclipse an .800 OPS, you have to wonder if it's wishful thinking for
someone so lacking in plate discipline to eliminate their slumps.
Triple Slash Line You Can't Hold Me To: .290/.325/.460
9. Brent Morel - What's an .818 OPS? Pretty good?
Above-average? Not spectacular, but better than most? Well that's
Morel's career mark in the minor leagues. That number also represents
probably the gaudiest offensive numbers you can have while not hitting
many home runs or drawing many walks. Those limitations will have a
more pronounced effect in the majors, but this team has had more
tolerance for streaky singles hitters than most. His late-season
call-up hinted at 10-15 HR power.
Triple Slash Line You Can't Hold Me To: .275/.315/.410
Bench: Predicting the numbers of guys who aren't even going to snag
regular at-bats is even more of a fools errand than pre-season
predictions in general. Lillibridge isn't on the roster for his bat, so
he seems like the safest bet to not contribute, while Vizquel's offense
is best summed up as 'Slow Juan Pierre'. Mark Teahen and Ramon Castro
have both been above-average hitters at points in their lives, and the
guys in front of them are shaky enough that they'll earn plenty of time
at the plate if they're hot. Strangely enough, Lastings Milledge is
generating the most excitement out of anyone despite a career wOBA of
It's not an elite offense. Too many guys here are missing good on-base
skills, and besides Beckham. What it is, significantly more than last
year, is an offense more tailored to its ballpark. 6 of these guys
could hit 20 HRs, and maybe 5 of them actually will. This is still a
pitching team, but one that can sock plenty of dingers...hey, that's
Jim ponders this brave new world with an 11-man pitching staff.
J.J. continues his insightful "Out-pitches" series with John Danks, and analyzes whether the Jake Peavy trade is a failure yet. He's pumping out a lot of content right now. Did someone drop a class?
Mike has his first post at his new digs,
whitesoxwatch.com. Today's post addresses the roster decisions and
from what I understand, everyone who reads it gets free pizza. I'll add
his new spot to the blogroll, which means it will probably be uploaded