Apr 27, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox designated hitter Jose Abreu hits a two-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the sixth inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
After signing Jose Abreu in late 2013, and spending a significant amount of money this offseason, things are looking up for the Chicago White Sox. Since there is a lot of excitement for this team as we enter the new year, here are 5 things White Sox fans have to look forward to this upcoming 2015 season. (Remember we are just 95 days from Opening Day.)
• Jose Abreu’s 2nd MLB season
Abreu terrorized pitchers in his rookie year with the White Sox. He hit .317, with 36 home runs and 107 RBIs to set franchise rookie records.
Expect better things from Abreu in 2015, with him being used to a full season in MLB. Not to mention a better supporting cast around him in Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche. He’ll also know the pitchers better as well, which will make for some interesting at-bats.
• A healthy Avisail Garcia
Garcia is a potential force in the middle of the lineup for the White Sox. While he may never be a superstar, it is quite conceivable that he could become the 2012 version of Alex Rios on a yearly basis.
If that were to happen, the Sox would have an All-Star on their hands. Last year he suffered a shoulder injury in April, but returned in August. He finished with a .244 average with a .305 on-base percentage and .413 slugging percentage. If he stays healthy he’ll do good things for the White Sox.
• Jeff Samardzija in the rotation
Samardzija is a No. 1 ace on many MLB staffs, but will fit in as the No. 2 pitcher behind Chris Sale for the ’15 season.
While Samardzija has yet to have a winning season in the majors (he played most of his career with the Chicago Cubs) his career ERA is 3.85.
If he can be better than that (which he has been lately) he may win 14-18 games this year. Last season his combined ERA with the Cubs and Oakland Athletics was 2.99 with 202 strikeouts.
• An improved bullpen
When the White Sox signed reliever Zach Duke and closer David Robertson, the bullpen improved immensely. Will it be the best in baseball? Probably not, but with Robertson (39 saves in 2014) the White Sox should have someone in the ninth inning who can finish the game.
Duke had a 2.45 ERA in ’14 with the Milwaukee Brewers. He pitched 58.2 innings and struck out 74 batters.
• A competitive team! (hopefully)
With all the moves this franchise has made, it should be time for the White Sox to compete.
The top three of the rotation, a good 1-6 in the lineup and a good closer should be enough to play meaningful September baseball.
While the team isn’t perfect, the gap between the White Sox compared to the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers has closed drastically. The Cleveland Indians should be around as well, so expect a four horse race in the AL Central.
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This is the first White Sox team in quite some time that has a complete lineup. Speed, power and contact all exist in this lineup and it is no longer just home run or bust. While it is a little weak at the bottom of the order, the Top 6 should carry them.
Not to mention a 1-2 punch in the rotation of Sale and Samardzija. If enough things go their way, a postseason appearance is possible for the White Sox.
This will be the first time in maybe ever that four teams can actually compete for the AL Central championship. This year will be much more entertaining than the last two seasons at U.S. Cellular, which is something all White Sox fans are looking forward to.
Happy New Year White Sox fans!