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White Sox Mon Mar 25 2013

White Sox Fantasy Baseball Preview, Part 1

Sox_200.pngIt's fantasy baseball season! Oh, the excitement.

This year, the first overall pick requires a difficult decision. Do you go with Ryan Braun, and risk losing him for 50 games if the PED investigation nets something? Do you go with Mike Trout, and hope he doesn't have a sophomore slump? What about Miguel Cabrera? Of course he's a beast. But in fantasy, he's a step behind (potentially) Braun and Trout.

Then, after the top three and Robinson Cano at four, the rest of the first round picks are spotty. Guys with injury history, guys who might regress. No sure things.

You'll figure it out, though. You'll make your first five picks and talk yourself into your team, no matter how flawed it is. And don't sweat the draft too much: by the end of the year -- really, maybe even by June -- your team will look completely different after all the waiver wire adds and drops, and after trades and injuries.

The question is, where do White Sox players fit into your fantasy team this season?

Well, unfortunately, they probably won't. At least they shouldn't.

Let's break this down by tiers. This is assuming 5x5 standard scoring - batting average, runs, home runs, RBIs, stolen bases, ERA, wins, saves, WHIP and strikeouts - and is based on mixed-league formats. Today is the lower round picks and sleepers. Tomorrow will be the cream of the Sox crop.

Undrafted, Waiver-Wire Players

Tyler Flowers, Jose Quintana, Gavin Floyd, John Danks, any bench players, any non-closers in the bullpen, any Sox prospects.

These guys provide little value. Flowers has marginal power, but will kill you with a low batting average (and presumably a low amount of RBIs and runs scored). You can find a better catcher. He'll be a stop-gap fill-in at some point this season when he gets on a hot streak, but he shouldn't be on your team the entire year.

Floyd has never had a high strikeout rate, typically has a high ERA, and a bad WHIP. He also gives up a good amount of home runs (1.2 HR/9 innings over his career), which is problematic at a small park like The Cell. On face value, he shouldn't sniff your team. That is, unless you believe in the "contract year" theory, and that Floyd, playing out a one-year option, will post a career year.

Both Floyd and Quintana may be serviceable at some point in the season, but back-end starters are a dime a dozen. Ignore Quintana for now, who was horrible down the stretch last year (5.01 ERA, 1.62 WHIP in the second half).

Danks might have been an intriguing sleeper pick, but since he's starting the year on the DL after missing most of last year he's not worth drafting. He also wasn't very good in 2011 or before he got hurt in 2012, and he had a poor spring -- 16.36 ERA and 2.91 WHIP over 11 innings.

The Sox have no prominent bench players, no cannon-armed relievers ready to take the closer role, and no prospects close to making an impact in the bigs this season. There's no Oscar Taveras or Wil Myers with in the Sox organization.

Low Round Picks

Jeff Keppinger, Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez.

These guys have value because of their position. In the post steroid era, second and third basemen and shortstops don't crush 35 homers a year anymore. Those positions can get ugly after the best 10 are snapped up.

Ramirez is consistent, which is good and bad. He'll play around 158 games a year, steal a couple bags, and hit about .270. But, he hits at the bottom of the order, so runs aren't plentiful, and he has limited power. Not the worst pick, but he should be a bench player unless you are super stacked at other positions.

Beckham has some power (maybe 15 home runs a year). But his batting average is low (.234 last year, .230 the year before), he doesn't steal bases and he gets on-base less than 30 percent of the time. He's not a big run scorer. It's a shame his good glove doesn't earn fantasy points.

Keppinger had a fine season last year, hitting .325 for Tampa. But, again, he's limited in every other category, 2012 was by far his strongest season, he's 32, and his batting average on balls in play (BAbip) was exceptionally high last year, at .332. He was fairly lucky in that sense. However, Keppinger has some value because he plays multiple positions -- on ESPN, he's listed at 3B, 2B, 1B and DH. He'll fill some spots in your lineup.

Upside Guys In Late Rounds

Dayan Viciedo

Viciedo hit 25 home runs with 78 RBIs last year. Pretty solid, right? Well, when you break it down by month, the left fielder had a phenomenal May (8 HR, 24 RBI, .351 BA), a good September (6 HR, 20 RBI, .259 BA), and a very mediocre rest of the season. He'll fall into slumps and frustrate you when he goes on those 1-for-14 stretches.

But it's easy to have a soft spot for "Tank." This could be the year he'll put it all together: He just turned 24, and when everything was clicking last May, he just looked like a different player. Viciedo can hit the ball hard. Naturally, this will be a challenge for him to play like this for an entire season. But he might be one of those random guys (like Carlos Gomez of the Brewers last year) who finally finds the keys to unlock his tool box.

Coming tomorrow: mid- and early-round picks

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