The 2014 Chicago White Sox are a team comprised of questions. Can José Abreu live up to they hype? Will Chris Sale continue his dominance? Can Adam Eaton have a breakout year? If many of these questions have positive answers, the White Sox will make a run at the playoffs; however, as it stands now, there is too much uncertainty to project a winning record for this team in 2014.
This offseason, the acquisition of José Abreu was undoubtedly the biggest move for the White Sox. Abreu, a first baseman from Cuba, batted .383 in the 2013 World Baseball Classic and was signed to a 6 year/$68 million deal last October. Whether he likes it or not, Abreu was signed to be the future of the White Sox offense and he will have to produce; otherwise, many fans will label him as a bust. Additionally, Abreu has had his plate discipline and bat speed questioned because many think they won’t translate to the MLB. All of this has created immense hype for Abreu and it is very tough to project how he will deal with that. If I had to guess, based on his fantastic World Baseball Classic, I would say Abreu has shown he can handle a decent amount of pressure. Look for him to have a big year in 2014 and possibly put up 30 home runs.
Chris Sale (3.07 ERA) pitched 214 innings in 2013 and proved he could be a durable pitcher in the MLB despite a somewhat violent delivery (see picture above). However, aside from him, the White Sox have a weak rotation that will rely on arms such as John Danks and Erik Johnson, the #70 prospect in the league according to MLB.com. Danks is looking to rebound from a rough 2013 season in which he pitched to the tune of a 4.75 ERA. Johnson, on the other hand, is going to try to carry his minor league success (1.96 ERA, .986 WHIP) over into the MLB. Much like Abreu, Johnson has the entire organization’s eyes on him, and many hope to see a Sale/Johnson combo for many years to come. But will this occur in 2013? While I think that Johnson certainly has the talent, it is very difficult to go from the minors to the MLB without any hiccups (see Kevin Gausman.) For 2014, I predict a respectable 4.10 ERA for Johnson with a sub 4.00 ERA in the second half.
All pitching aside, the main issue with the 2013 White Sox was their offense. Unfortunately for them, no true star emerged the entire season, hence the signing of José Abreu and trading for Adam Eaton. Eaton, who was projected to win Rookie of the Year, had an injury plagued season in 2013, but he looks to bounce back for his new ball club. With these two players, plus the progression of others like Avisail García, the White Sox hope to field an improved offense in 2014. Yet, that is all they can do right now, hope. Nothing will be a certainty with the 2014 White Sox, but that could be a good thing. If all goes better than expected, don’t be surprised to see this AL Chicago team compete for a Wild Card spot in the coming year.
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