The White Sox have a lot to prove in 2013.
The Chicago White Sox exceeded their expectations set for the beginning of the 2012 season, but the year still ended disappointingly. With the 2013 season approaching, several key returning players will need to step it up to keep the team relevant in the American League.
Things were looking good for the White Sox with two weeks left in the season. They were 83-67 and seemed to be in good shape for a playoff appearance.
Unfortunately, the team went on a 2-10 slump to end the year, finishing three games behind the Detroit Tigers and outside of the playoffs.
Although it was a tough end of the season, there is still a lot of talent on this team. The team is slowly improving, and making the playoffs in 2013 would be considered a success.
With that being said, here are five players who really need to show improvement this year to bring the White Sox into the playoffs.
Flowers will now take the starting job as the Sox catcher.
Many fans of the White Sox were very disappointed to hear the news that A.J. Pierzynski had signed with the Texas Rangers over the offseason. With his departure, it appears that Tyler Flowers will take over as the starting catcher.
Flowers didn't get too much time in the game during the 2012 year, but there are some numbers he will certainly need to work on. In his 153 plate appearances, he struck out 56 times. That's far too many strikeouts for a young player.
His batting average was also a little shaky, hitting only .213. This is certainly a number he could work on, and an entire offseason of training could help with that.
There are a few things Flowers needs to work on, but he has the opportunity to be a solid power hitter for the White Sox come April.
Floyd will need to become a consistent starter to make this team great.
Both Chris Sale and Jake Peavy have developed themselves as solid starting pitchers for the White Sox. If they want to be a playoff-caliber team, however, Gavin Floyd will need to be just as solid.
Overall, Floyd had a decent 2012 season. He won 12 games with an ERA of 4.29. He also held opponents to a .259 batting average.
Floyd's consistency is the biggest thing that he needs to improve on in 2013. He struggled to stay healthy last season, going on the disabled list twice with elbow injuries. He should be fine heading into April, but staying in the rotation will be important.
There was a pretty big rise in walks for Floyd in 2012 as well. Despite pitching 25.2 fewer innings, he still walked 18 more batters than he did in 2011. Letting batters get on base too often can be a big problem, and Floyd will need to work on this.
Ramirez is becoming one of the veterans for the Sox.
Now that Alexei Ramirez has played on the White Sox for five seasons, the team will be expecting him to become one of the leaders on the roster. He will need to improve his game in order to lead this team by example.
The former Silver Slugger will need to have another season like 2010 for the South Siders. His numbers have dipped a bit the past two seasons, and that needs to be fixed.
The home runs are something that Ramirez needs to improve on this year. By the end of May, he had only hit one homer for the year. He only finished with nine on the season.
Ramirez also had a big dip in his on-base percentage. After having four straight years comfortably over .300, his on-base percentage was only .287 last season. This is mostly due to the fact he only drew 16 walks.
Getting on base will be important for Ramirez, as he will be expected to be one of the more reliable players in the batting order.
Reed's rookie year was rocky, but he will improve.
2012 wasn't very kind to Addison Reed.
In his rookie year, Reed quickly became the team's closer. Unfortunately, there were definitely some growing pains as he became accustomed to facing major league hitters.
Among relievers with at least 30 save chances, Reed had the second-worst ERA with 4.75. This is definitely a number he needs to bring down, as it caused many stressful final innings for the team.
This is clearly something the young pitcher will need to work on. He showed that he can strike out hitters, but they still hit pretty well off of him.
There isn't much to be worried about, as it was only Reed's first full season in the majors. It takes time for a pitcher to become accustomed to the skill of opposing hitters, and he will likely develop into a solid closer in 2013.
Dunn improved quite a bit in 2012 from 2011.
After a dreadful 2011 season, Adam Dunn was able to turn it around in 2012. He was able hit 41 home runs after hitting only 11 the previous season.
Still, there are some things Dunn could certainly improve on. His batting average has been pretty bad since joining the White Sox, with averages of .159 in 2011 and .204 in 2012.
Dunn needs to try getting that average up around the .220 area to be a big power hitter. The contact issues were definitely a problem the past two years for him. The 41 home runs were nice, but the 222 strikeouts were by far the worst in the MLB. The next highest was Curtis Granderson, who had 195.
There are still a lot of things Dunn did well with the team. However, with so many changes, the team will want Dunn to be a solid hitter that can bring in runs on a consistent basis.