The White Sox finished 2019 with a 72-89 record, sitting third place in the American League Central and finishing a massive 28.5 games behind the division winners, the Minnesota Twins. Chicago’s run differential was poor, being outscored by opponents by 124 runs, seventh worst among all MLB teams. However, armed with a ton of young talent and multiple significant veteran acquisitions, the White Sox have an extremely bright future and could push for playoff contention in 2020.
Potential White Sox breakout stars this season
— League Winner: +1500
— World Series: +3500
Key Departures:Ian Nova, SP
Key Acquisitions:Yasmani Grandal, C; Edwin Encarnacion, DH/1B; Nomar Mazara, OF; Dallas Keuchel, SP; Gio Gonzalez, SP
2020 Fantasy MVP
Eloy Jimenez, OFJimenez has an elite prospect background, sitting as a consensus top five overall prospect prior to the 2019 season. His rookie season was solid overall, producing 16 percent better than league average when adjusted for park and league. Jimenez also displayed encouraging progress as the season went along, boosting his production in the second half of the season. After the All-Star break, Jimenez hit .292 with 15 dingers in 253 plate appearances, contributing to a .250 isolated power and .542 slugging percentage, all excellent numbers. His park and league adjusted metrics rose to 28 percent better than average after the All-Star break, up from just five percent better than average in the first half of the season. Jimenez’s production was also supported by strong contact quality. Jimenez’s expected slugging percentage of .564 based on the exit velocities and angles of his batted balls was even better than his actual slugging percentage, and his expected batting average of .290 was also excellent. Jimenez will play most of his games in a good park for hitting at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, which adds to his fantasy potential.
2020 Fantasy LVP
Tim Anderson, SSAnderson has some alarming peripheral statistics from 2019 that may indicate incoming regression. Anderson’s .399 batting average on balls in play is generally considered an unsustainable number over the long term. Anderson’s contact quality was also not as strong as his outcomes, another potential signal for incoming regression. Anderson is also one of the least selective batters in MLB, chasing a massive 46% of pitches located outside of the strike zone, much higher than the league average of 31% and tied for the worst mark among all qualified batters. Anderson’s lack of plate discipline contributed to walking in just three percent of his plate appearances in 2019, second lowest among all qualified batters. Anderson can still have a productive fantasy season in 2020, but his peripheral statistics make him a risk to regress from 2019.
2020 Breakout Players
Michael Kopech, SPKopech missed the entire 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery, but he is expected to be ready to return in early 2020. Provided Kopech is healthy and claims a rotation spot, he carries huge upside. Kopech was one of baseball’s top pitching prospects prior to his injury, and features explosive stuff with one of the hardest fastballs in the game, which gives him huge strikeout potential. Kopech struck out a heavy 31% of batters in his last stint in the minors before his MLB call up and touched 101 mph in a 2020 spring training game. In addition to having elite velocity, Kopech’s fastball also has elite backspin, which helps him pitch with life up in the zone and miss bats. Kopech’s four-seam fastball recorded an average spin rate of 2,559 RPM in 2018, much better than the league average of 2,264 RPM on four-seam fastballs. If Kopech stays healthy and puts everything together, he could emerge as one of MLB’s better pitchers at generating strikeouts.
Dylan Cease, SPCease has explosive pure stuff, which had him ranked as a consensus top 40 overall prospect prior to the 2019 season. Cease’s outcomes were poor after making his MLB debut, posting an ugly 5.79 ERA in 14 starts, which was 28 percent worse than average when adjusted for park and league. However, some of Cease’s peripheral statistics were much more encouraging. Cease’s contact quality allowed to opposing batters was much closer to league average when taking into account exit velocity combined with batted ball angle, which could indicate some poor luck. Cease was also plus at generating strikeouts, striking out 25% of batters faced, better than the SP league average of 22%. Cease could provide some value in fantasy drafts if other fantasy owners are scared off by his ugly ERA.
Luis Robert, OFRobert enters 2020 as a consensus top six overall prospect. Robert has a strong combination of both power and speed, so he could contribute to both home runs and stolen bases. Baseball Prospectus ranked him sixth overall on their top prospect list and gushed about his athleticism, ultimately labeling him a 70 grade Overall Future Potential (OFP), which is a baseball scouting term for elite. Robert could immediately post a 20 home run, 20 stolen base season as a rookie in 2020, which is especially valuable in DraftKings contests.
Final ThoughtsThe White Sox have made massive upgrades that could put them into 2020 contention, especially if their plethora of talented young players perform up to their ceilings. The addition of C Yasmani Grandal could significantly help the pitching staff, as Grandal is one of the best pitch framers in MLB and can help put pitchers into advantageous counts by stealing strikes. Grandal is also one of the best offensive catchers in the game, and his addition to the lineup, combined with adding Edwin Encarnacion, Luis Robert and Nomar Mazara, could make Chicago’s offense potent. The White Sox are also expected to call up top 2B prospect Nick Madrigal at some point in 2020, which could be another significant addition to the lineup. A starting rotation of ace Lucas Giolito, combined with veteran left-handed pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez and young flamethrowers Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease, could also give the White Sox a strong rotation. DraftKings users can expect the White Sox to have a much improved 2020 season and could develop into one of the most fun teams to watch if their young players reach their future potential.
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