The White Sox have several key players on their 2013 team, from stud starting pitchers Chris Sale and Jake Peavy, to dominant power hitters Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko, to new starters Jeff Keppinger and Tyler Flowers. There are a few players that I can think of that would be under the radar key players for the White Sox in 2013, but one really stands out.
My x-factor for the Chicago White Sox in 2013 is Alexei Ramirez.
Ramirez has been an odd player thusfar in his career in American, because his bat has never been above average after his rookie year of 2008. But at least from 2009 to 2011, his bat was *close* to being average. Things cratered last season, when Ramirez posted a .282 wOBA and 70 wRC+, homering just nine times, but stealing 20 bases.
But while Ramirez's bat struggled, his glove continued to play at an above average level. His total DRS over the last three seasons is at +41, and his UZR over those three seasons is nearing 30. So he's not exactly a complete slog on the White Sox, but he's not exactly a complete player like Troy Tulowitzki.
Ramirez's issues in 2012 can really be summarized in one aspect of his game: awful plate discipline. He walked at a career low 2.6% in 2012 thanks to a 54% swing rate that was one of the top ten highest in baseball, and represented a 6% jump from 2011. Sure, that works for some players, but he swung at 41.5% of pitches he saw out of the strike zone, the fifth highest mark in baseball, and behind players like Delmon Young and Jeff Francoeur. Of course, Josh Hamilton and AJ Pierzynski rounded out the top five, so it's not always a negative...but both of those players are much stronger than Ramirez, and can bash the ball over the fence much easier.
It's not as if Ramirez needs to make huge changes to his approach at the plate to succeed in 2013. Just a little bit more selectivity will go a long way towards making him a four win player once again, which will be a huge gain for the White Sox as Gordon Beckham continues to struggle at second base.
White Sox on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
2013 Season Preview
You May Say I'm a Dreamer
2013 Burning Question
This Is My Nightmare