Why the White Sox Will Be the Most Exciting AL Central Team to Watch in 2011
Baseball season is coming up and the American League Central is promising to be one of the most competitive divisions this season. I have come up with six different reasons why the White Sox will be the most exciting team to watch within this division.
The White Sox are always full of excitement, exemplified last year by the feud between manager Ozzie Guillen and general manager Kenny Williams, the team's 25-5 start and by the addition of Manny Ramirez—one of the biggest characters in all of baseball.
This season promises to be even more exciting, as the White Sox have added some new pieces to their roster, while retaining the main pieces from last year. Oh yeah, Williams and Guillen still work together on the South Side.
Now granted, this team is a lot older than most other baseball teams, but the White Sox do possess four young players whom every baseball fan should keep their eye on. These four players are John Danks (25), Gordon Beckham (24), Chris Sale (21), and Dayan Viciedo (22).
Danks is entering his fifth season as a starting pitcher for the White Sox, and he seems ready to finally take over as the team ace and make his first All-Star appearance. His innings and wins have increased every year as a starter. He also set a career high in strikeouts last year while posting his second-best ERA as a member of the White Sox. Look for him to improve on all these numbers this year.
Sale is competing for the closer job and, although I don't believe he will start the season out as the White Sox closer, I think he will end the season as the closer because his stuff and his numbers will be too hard to pass up. The kid should only grow from his amazing finish last year—as long as he doesn't let his nerves bother him.
Beckham ended the 2010 season on a high note. Entering into his third season as a member of the White Sox, hopefully he can play from start to finish the same way, or better than he played during both his rookie year and the end of 2010.
Viciedo will probably not make the Opening Day roster, but if an injury occurs to Brent Morel, Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn or Carlos Quentin, I expect him to be called up as a starter. I think he will prove to everyone that he belongs on this team. The kid has a lot of power and, if given the chance to play every day, will learn control in an effort to take more walks and strikeout less—he will also learn how to play better defense. When this happens, watch out!
This team possesses a lot of power, which almost all baseball fans love to see. Without a doubt, they have the best duo of home run hitters in the division with Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko.
Dunn is the model for consistency when it comes to home runs. Konerko is always a threat to go deep, which he proved last year by knocking out 39 home runs.
If Carlos Quentin could return to his MVP form, he could easily hit at least 30 home runs this year. Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez are all capable of hitting at least 20 home runs.
A.J. Pierzynski and Morel could both give you 10-15 home runs if they play a full season and if Viciedo takes over a starting position, depending on how many games he plays, he could knock out 25-30 home runs in a season.
Ozzie Guillen and Kenny Williams
Even if we didn't count their feud from last year, Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen are always a lot of fun to pay attention to. Both men are very blunt about what's on their minds and neither one is afraid to change things around when they are going wrong.
Kenny Williams has never been afraid of picking up a big name during the trade deadline in an effort to improve the team, proven by Jake Peavy, Manny Ramirez and Ken Griffey Jr. to name a few. Regardless of how the moves pan out, the man is always up to take a risk and is always looking for ways to improve the ballclub, which excites every White Sox fan.
Ozzie Guillen is borderline legendary for his postgame tirades and for calling out his players after games. In addition, the guy just loves to have fun—whether it's before, during or after the game, which makes for good entertainment.
Add in the fact that he and Kenny Williams love nothing more than winning, and you've got yourself the most exciting management duo in the AL Central, and probably in all of baseball.
Although the White Sox don't have one superstar on this team, they have arguably one of the most balanced teams in MLB.
With a healthy Jake Peavy (which seems to be the case now), all five White Sox starters are above-average pitchers who will give you a chance to win every game. Not one of these players is a bona fide ace, but all five of these men could be quality second or third starters on most other teams.
The same case applies to the bullpen. Although they do not have a clear-cut closer, they have four and even five men who could take over the position and do a quality job. Sale, Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and Sergio Santos are the four men who are expected to be given a chance to close for this team. Even Will Ohman could be given a chance to close if the other four players don't pan out or if he starts the season on a really high note.
The White Sox lineup possesses speed, power, players who can hit for average and also some defense as well. Juan Pierre led the league in stolen bases last year with 68, while Alex Rios added over 30 of his own. With Ozzie's aggressive style, don't expect those numbers to drop much this year.
Konerko belted out 39 home runs last year and, with the addition of Dunn, the White Sox should once again be atop the home run leaderboard in the AL Central, and maybe in the entire American League.
Rios, Ramirez, Omar Vizquel, Pierzynski and Pierre all hit around .270 last year, and expect Beckham to join them this year.
Finally on the defensive end, Ramirez was a Gold Glove candidate at shortstop last year and Rios provides great defense in center field. Add in the defense of Morel this year at third base, and this team should have another good year on the defensive end.
With Mark Buehrle on this team, anything is possible.
Sure, he may not be the best pitcher in the game, but he has definitely been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball over the last 10 years. He gets to the point, as he pitches quicker than probably any other pitcher in all of baseball.
The main thing that makes him exciting though is that he is always capable of pitching a no-hitter or a perfect game.
He already has a no-hitter and a perfect game on his resume and will constantly be a threat to do it again as long as he is in the league due to his pitching style. For this reason, every time he takes the mound, fans are excited to watch him and to see what happens. They don't even have to take too much time out of their day to do so, as the games he starts only last about two hours.