By Tommy Rancel //
Biggest Surprise: Alex Rios
Following last season’s mid-summer waiver claim by the White Sox, Rios hit just .199/.229/.301 for his new club for the rest of 2009. However, the 29-year-old rebounded to post numbers above his career average across the board in 2010. His .284/.334/.457 slash line slightly bests his career .281/.331/.446. More importantly from a fantasy perspective, he regained his great power/speed combo, smashing 21 home runs while stealing 34 bases. He also crossed the plate 89 times and added 88 RBI. With 2009 looking like the outlier, expect numbers close to career averages again in 2011.
Biggest Bust: Gordon Beckham
Beckham impressed in his first 400 major league plate appearances by hitting .270/.347/.460 as a rookie second baseman. In nearly 500 PA this year, he hit just .252/.317/.378. His home runs dropped from 14 to nine and his RBI from 63 down to 49 – despite playing in 28 more games. There’s nothing that screams fluke in either season, which leaves Beckham’s owners scratching their heads moving forward. If he’s valued as a .250 hitter with light power at the draft table next year, though, he’s well worth grabbing at that price.
2011 Keeper Alert: Dayan Viciedo
A Cuban defector, Viciedo showed some of the power the White Sox hoped to see when they signed him. After hitting 20 home runs in 86 games at the Triple-A level, the 21-year-old was promoted to the big leagues. There, he it .308/.321/.519 with five home runs in just 106 PA. His average is fueled by a rather unsustainable BABIP (batting average on balls in play) and his plate discipline leaves much to be desired (two walks and 25 strikeouts). But with plus power at the hot corner, the Chicago third baseman of the future is one to keep.
2011 Regression Alert: Paul Konerko
Konerko has been one of the most underrated hitters of the past few seasons, but pardon me for being a little wary of a 34-year-old posting a career-best .977 OPS. While playing in one of baseball’s home run havens, nearly 20% of Konerko’s flyballs hit went over the wall. In addition to a favorable home run rate, his BABIP .326 was well above his career .285 level. A free agent this off-season, Konerko’s next destination is unknown. But it is very unlikely his OPS approaches 1.000 again next year. Don’t overbid.
For more on Alex Rios and the Chicago White Sox lineup, check Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Kits.