2014 AL Central Preview And Predictions

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Mar 11, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu (79) hits an RBI single in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago White Sox: 72-90

1- Why will this team exceed expectations?

James Fegan from Southside Showdown: 1- Presumably because expectations could not be lower. It’s hard to lose 99 games without having some career-worst years out of regulars (the Flowers/Phegley catching situation, the infield and outfield defense, etc.) and it’s hard to post career-worse years twice in a row.

Even if the Sox hadn’t undergone a rapid offensive re-tooling, a dead cat bounce could take them to fourth place. Third place if Kansas City’s pitching blows up.

2- Why will this team fall short of expectations?

The foundation of this team’s offense is all lottery tickets. Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu both have light tower power, but both could also be unable to work a sub-25% strikeout rate.

Adam Eaton or Matt Davidson are fairly unproven as well, and if not one of those four guys becomes the hitter the Sox hope they can be, then they’re left with an older version of last year’s awful offense.

3- Look for the team to make (this trade)

The Sox should be breaking up their double play combo at some point this year. Marcus Semien is about ready. Carlos Sanchez is in Triple-A and while I personally am bearish on Micah Johnson, there are a lot of middle infield prospects working their way up and neither Beckham nor Ramirez are bats worth holding on to.

4- Watch out for the emergence of (prospect)

I’ve already mentioned Semien, Garcia, Davidson, Sanchez and Johnson. Erik Johnson will probably be the most meaningful rookie, since he’ll likely break camp with a rotation slot.

But keep an eye out for Daniel Webb. He likely won’t make any prospect lists but he torched the middle minors in 2013, touches 100 mph and could be racking up saves by mid-summer.