Bullish on the White Sox

I had completely forgotten that the White Sox won 88 games last year until I recently looked at the standings.

Disrespect? Maybe, but the more important question to me is can they do it again in 2011?

Year after year, the American League Central may be the most winnable division in baseball. Seemingly, each season for the past seven or eight years begins with at least three teams making some type of claim to the division title (except for the Royals, and that might be changing soon). In 2011, the Indians and Royals are expected to struggle, making this a three-horse race between the White Sox, Tigers and Twins.

The White Sox added a couple of pieces to the bullpen, but their main move (aside from letting Bobby Jenks walk) was adding Adam Dunn. Chicago designated hitters were among the worst in the American League in 2010. Adding Dunn at DH (or if he plays at first base and Paul Konerko is the DH) seems like an easy three to four wins added. Dunn has been freakishly consistent for the past seven years, playing nearly every game and hitting around 40 home runs. Given his new home, Dunn might exceed his own lofty standards.

The return of Jake Peavy is another reason for optimism. The rotation of Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, and Edwin Jackson is very good; with Peavy, it could be terrific. Peavy hasn't been healthy since he arrived in Chicago, but he won the NL Cy Young Award in 2007 and was excellent in 2008 for San Diego. While no one is sure how his shoulder will heal from his injury, his potential return will only fortify what is already a strength.

To be fair, the 2010 White Sox had a huge season from Konerko, very good seasons from Alexei Ramirez and Alex Rios, and did not lose too many players to injury. The offense, even with Dunn, is not a strength, and this is not exactly a young team.

While it's possible that injuries could hit the White Sox hard this season or that Konerko won't duplicate his 2010, there are reasons to be bullish.

Detroit, though talented, is lined with question marks. And while Minnesota always seems to be fine no matter the circumstances, the Justin Morneau situation is pretty scary. As of right now, the Twins are probably the favorites and deservedly so. Just don't sleep on the White Sox.

Dan Hennessey writes Baseballin' on a Budget, a blog about the Oakland Athletics. Follow him on Twitter.