Chicago made a strong push down the stretch last season, winning eight of its last 10 games to finish 88-74. Unfortunately for White Sox fans the late surge was not enough as the Southside bombers finished six games back of the first place Twins in the American League Central. 2011 MLB Predictions are forecasting another tight race between Chicago and Minnesota, with the Sox listed at +160 moneyline odds to win the division to the Twins +150.
The White Sox featured one of the top offensive teams in baseball last season, cranking out 752 runs; however, the club's home run total dropped for the second straight year, going from 184 in 2009 to 177 last year.
That should change with the arrival of Adam Dunn.
Dunn is about as steady as it gets in the long ball department, having hit 38 or more dingers in seven of the past nine seasons. He will take over at DH, replacing Andruw Jones, who tallied 19 homers last year.
Dunn, who joins a lineup of heavy hitters, including Paul Konerko, Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin, and Alexei Ramirez, could approach 45 or 50 bombs at the hitter friendly U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago's starting rotation did not perform as expected a season ago with Mark Buehrle, the long time staff ace, posting the second worst ERA of his career (4.28) and Jake Peavy, a former Cy Young winner with the Padres, going down in early July with a detached muscle in his throwing shoulder.
If Buehrle returns to form and Peavy can stay healthy, the White Sox should realize marked improvement in 2011. The reliability of Edwin Jackson, who the team acquired in a trade with Arizona last July, could also play a pivotal role in the unit's overall success. The 27 year old Jackson posted an impressive 3.24 ERA in 11 appearances with the White Sox last season.
Chicago has all the tools — a powerful lineup, a strong rotation, and a solid bullpen — to remove the Twins from their AL Central perch. And, at least in this writer's opinion, it will do it.
Chicago White Sox 2011 MLB Predictions: First Place in the AL Central
Chicago White Sox 2011 World Series Picks:
To Win 2011 World Series +2500
To Win 2011 AL Pennant +1000
To Win AL Central +160 (Two of Five)
Regular Season Wins – Over 85.5 (-120)/Under 85.5 (-110)