Let’s play a game. Let’s play “White Sox What Ifs” 2014 version. And let’s assume that if 7 out of these 10 What Ifs come to fruition, our White Sox are going to the postseason in 2014. So let’s start….

(1.) What If Adam Eaton becomes the on-base machine it appears he could be so far in Spring Training? The White Sox haven’t had a lead-off hitter of his caliber since Scott Podsednik. Not only can Eaton get on base with regularity, he can steal bases. He can stretch singles into doubles, and doubles into triples. He’s everything a lead off hitter should be. And he can bunt. Enough said. Your mouth waters with just the above? Wait. He can play defense, unlike your beloved Scotty Pods (who also had the limp arm of an 8 year old). Eaton possesses similar daredevil-type maneuvers that Aaron Rowand possessed. Though Rowand would often mis-judge fly balls and make up for it with above average speed in CF to make a great catch, Eaton has the speed and instincts to make a great grab in front of him, to his left or right, and over the shoulder. Very excite!

(2.) What If Jose Abreu is not only the powerful monster he appeared to be in Cuba, but also has the bat skills to hit above .300 in the major leagues? While many like to compare Abreu to his fellow countrymen Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes, he’s far different from both. Puig certainly possesses a more dynamic personality and general approach to the game, but Abreu’s calm demeanor should play well in the American game. And it appears to me, that Cespedes is a rich man’s Dayan Viciedo, and who wants that besides the Seattle Mariners? All jokes aside, Abreu may not turn to be a Gold Glove candidate at 1st base, but he should be everything Rick Hahn and the White a Sox expect him to be offensively. And with Adam Eaton being an on-base machine, there should be plenty of opportunities for Abreu to knock him in.

(3.) What If Avisail Garcia becomes the 5-tool player many scouts project him to be? Acquired in a 3-way deal with Boston and Detroit last season, Garcia has become a ray of hope on the south side of Chicago. He’s hit above .300 while in a White Sox uniform, and has the try hard attitude the Sox have lacked with Alex Rios in RF. Labeled has “Little Miggy” by some, Garcia has the makeup to be a perennial All-Star for years to come. 2014 could be his break-out season.

(4.) What If Matt Davidson breaks camp with the big club and is the White Sox starting 3rd baseman on Opening Day? (Yes please.) Though some don’t believe Davidson is ready for the Opening Day starting role, why not? Jeff Keppinger is injured, and Connor Gillaspie is no more than a utility-man, so why not start Davidson? Sure he has room to grow defensively at 3B, and is a little undisciplined at the plate. He has plus-power and has the potential to be the best hitting Sox 3rd baseman since…. Joe Crede! And while I’m not often a proponent of rushing players to the major leagues, I don’t think this would be a rush. Davidson has major league experience (albeit not a lot), and should start 2014 on the big club.

(5.) What If Gordon Beckham finally becomes the quality all-around player he was projected to become? Yes, this one is funny. But seriously, take Beckham’s offensive production from 2009, and combine it with his defensive prowess from 2010-2012, and you’ve got yourself an All-Star. Seriously, if somehow he can just put both together, we may have something. Beckham knows more than any of us that this could be his make-or-break year, especially with Marcus Semien and Micah Johnson on his heels. Let’s go Gordo!

(6.) What If Erik Johnson becomes a quality 3rd (maybe even a #2) starter, following his impressive 2013 debut? Johnson is often overlooked when folks discuss the Sox starting rotation. Johnson showed last season he has the stuff to be a quality major league starter, and could be really good if he harnesses his control. While most focus their attention to John Danks (and rightfully so), Johnson’s growth and development could be a key to the Sox success going forward, especially considering he’s one of only two right handers in the Sox rotation.

(7.) What If the aforementioned John Danks regains his pre-injury/pre-surgery form from 2011? Let’s face it, Danks was AWFUL in 2013. But, that wasn’t a huge surprise. 18 months is supposed to be the full recovery time from the shoulder surgery that Danks had. And, come Opening Day, that 18 months will have been reached. Danks has looked good so far in Spring Training, but it’s only Spring Training. All I know is this, if Danks can be 80% of what he was during game 163 in 2008, he’ll be just fine. But, this may be the biggest If of them all.

(8.) What If Tyler Flowers really was injured the majority of 2013 as the team claims, and that was the reason for his poor showing during his first full season as the Sox starting catcher? Though some Sox fans will never forgive management for letting the beloved AJ Pierzynski leave during free agency, and never gave Flowers a chance, Flowers was pretty awful. A poor batting average and even poorer base-runners-thrown-out percentage (is that a thing?) led to a terrible season for Flowers, and eventual season ending surgery. Here’s hoping Flowers can hit .240 or so, and be decent behind the plate. OK, this is starting to get negative. Josh Phegley!

(9.) What If Jose Quintana can continue his uncanny ability to defy odds, and be an unpredictably awesome #2 starter? I know I’m not the only one who was surprised that Quintana was even better in 2013 than he was in his break-out season in 2012. He’s not over-powering, and he’s certainly not flashy. He just gets the job done. And he’ll probably be even better in 2014. Let’s just say this one is as close to a sure thing as possible. Until we get to #10.

(10.) What If Chris Sale is just as great, or even better than he’s been so far? Sale is undeniably one of the best pitchers in the game, and there’s no doubt he’ll be even better in 2014. The anchor of the staff, not to mention the team, Sale is on the cusp of greatness. While experts keep insisting that Sale must put on more weight, he continues to mystify some of the best hitters in the game. Guys like Joe Mauer and Miguel Cabrera find hitting Sale a near impossibility. Sale is the one sure thing on this list, and on this team.

Pick your 7 out of 10 from this list. Any way you put those 7 choices together, our Sox may be headed to the playoffs.

Brian Madsen