Here are the top five questions facing the Chicago White Sox in 2013.
5. Is this all there is for Gordon Beckham? After a solid rookie debut in 2009, and coming into the majors with a good pedigree, hopes were high that Beckham would be a star. It hasn’t quite worked out that way. After three consecutive seasons with an OPS below .700, Beckham is now 26 and at a crossroads. If you are looking for positives in his statistical record, good luck to you. There is no reason to expect improvement, at least in a logical sense, and yet one cannot resist taking one last flyer.
4. What happened to Alexei Ramirez’ power? Your guess is as good as ours, but we think it is going to rebound. Overall, his skill set has been fairly consistent over the last three seasons, but his HR/FB has plummeted from 11% to 5%. There is no real explanation for this drop. On the good side he has traded power for speed, so if that power rebounds he might end up as the number-one AL player at his position.
3. Can Chris Sale stay healthy? The front office thinks so, buying out his arbitration seasons with a long-term deal. But his mechanics are frowned upon by most scouts, of which I am not one, and the universality of their opinions means there is probably fire where there is smoke. For now, he is a good example of a pen-to-rotation convert, and skills-wise there is absolutely nothing not to like; he has a Cy Young-worthy skill set.
2. Is Addison Reed the closer? The Closer Identifier Algorithm thinks so, but not by a large margin. He gets a ‘hold” status based on a 3.0 K/BB and a 91 BPV, both of which are slightly above CIA minimums. Reed is only 24 and has some upside though, with bad luck in both his LOB% and BABIP, especially as compared to other closers. So, for now we say “yes” on Reed, but we, and CIA, will keep a close eye on him.
1. Do we get Jekyll or Hyde from Alex Rios? Fellow Fantasy Baseball Roundtable Show host Mike Podhorzer made fun of me for always having Alex Rios, and he is right. Thankfully, 2012 was the Dr. Jekyll version of Alex Rios. One of these years he might have two straight good years, but 2013 looks bad. His BB rate and K/BB rate are at all-time lows, his BABIP is going to drop in 2013 and last year was a power peak at age 32. All signs are pointing down in 2013.