Though they didn't make it through to the postseason, the Chicago White Sox put together a much better season in 2012 than many were expecting. A small collapse in the final month of the season allowed the future American League Champion Detroit Tigers to grab the Central Division title. As disappointing as it was for the folks on the South Side, there's no doubt that it left some positive vibes and some larger expectations heading into 2013.
Depth Chart (As of 3/14)
C: Tyler Flowers
1B: Paul Konerko
2B: Gordon Beckham
SS: Alexei Ramirez
3B: Jeff Keppinger
LF: Dayan Viciedo
CF: Alejandro De Aza
RF: Alex Rios
DH: Adam Dunn
SP: Chris Sale
SP: Jake Peavy
SP: John Danks
SP: Gavin Floyd
SP: Jose Quintana
CL: Addison Reed
Not much in the way of new faces for the Sox headed into 2013. Jeff Keppinger was brought in to replace Kevin Youkilis at the hot corner and should be an upgrade there in virtually every area except as far as the power numbers are concerned. Matt Lindstrom should be a nice addition to the bullpen. Rule 5 pick Angel Sanchez has a chance to be a utility guy in the infield.
The big one for this team is the loss of A.J. Piersynski. He signed with the Texas Rangers after a career year, leaving the White Sox without 27 home runs and 77 RBIs, along with some extra flavor that he brought to the clubhouse. Kevin Youkilis is gone, as was probably expected. Francisco Liriano's short stint came to an end when he also left in free agency, as did Brett Myers.
The White Sox are returning mainly the same team that we saw on the field in 2012. Which means that there isn't much room for a rookie to crack the lineup. One guy to keep an eye on is Angel Sanchez. He's a Rule 5 pick and probably the only option for the White Sox as a backup middle infielder at this point. He hit .320 with Oklahoma City in the Houston Astros organization last season.
Supposedly, there's a position battle at third base between Keppinger and Brett Morel. But you don't pay a guy $4 million a year to sit on the bench. Which means that Keppinger is going to be starting at third. Luckily, he can move over and play other positions if the Sox need to give someone a day off, and they can slot Morel in at third. The fifth spot in the rotation is also up for grabs, between Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago. Of course, trading Gavin Floyd would probably make this battle much easier for everyone involved.
Chris Sale's mechanics leave him as a walking injury risk. But there haven't been any problems to this point. Jesse Crain missed the World Baseball Classic with a groin injury. Jeff Keppinger has been hampered by a shoulder injury during spring training.
Can the White Sox carry their success from last season over into 2013?
The White Sox success carries over into the new year. Chris Sale makes a bid for the Cy Young, while Dayan Viciedo experiences a breakout season. The Sox narrowly win the division over Detroit and discover that magic in their pitching staff, similar to what led them to a title back in 2005.
Their success from 2012 turns out to be nothing more than a mirage, Chris Sale's elbow explodes, they fall apart, and battle the Minnesota Twins to stay out of last place in the AL Central.
With the exception of the Twins, everyone in this division got better. The Sox stayed about the same. They'll be fighting for a wild card spot, but whether or not last year was a fluke is a total wild card in itself.