If Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Jake Peavy, three highly accomplished veterans, returned to previous career form in 2012, then it would be a simple enough course correction from an overall underachieving 2011 campaign to propel the White Sox into American League Central contention. And 150 games later, that theory basically has held true.
"I'm just not so sure how everybody else didn't see what we saw," said Peavy, who has reached at least 30 starts and at least 200 innings pitched for the first time since his 2007 National League Cy Young effort. "We all had good years in the past. I don't know if everybody just thought we were all officially done. ...
"I was coming back off of an injury and Alex had some stuff going on, as well as Adam. There's no excuse for the way that things went, but at the same time, we were the same team that was predicted to win this division a year ago."
And while Dunn, Peavy and Rios have put the 2011 struggles behind them, even with a few questions still popping up about their comeback this far into the next season, they haven't exactly put together career years. Rios has produced the biggest breakthrough, with the 31-year-old veteran looking to hit .300 for the second time in his career and on the verge of reaching single-season highs in home runs and RBIs.
Dunn has 39 homers and 90 RBIs, slowed recently by a strained right oblique, but still on par with his seasonal averages of 38 and 96. His .207 average is well below a career average of .240.
As for Peavy, he has been a steadying force in the White Sox rotation if not exactly their most successful pitcher, record-wise. Having these three with the potential to return to form had the team excited even back in February.
"We lost Mark Buehrle, but we added a guy like Chris Sale in the starting rotation," Peavy said. "We had some young guys in the bullpen, but we love their arms. We thought that would be the biggest question mark, if those guys would be who they have been.
"I remember hearing we are going to lose 95 games, and I'm going, 'I'm going to be healthy. I knew what kind of shape Dunner was in and Alex was ready to play.' We took it personally and we talked to Robin [Ventura] in Spring Training about what we hoped to do and who we hoped to be for the team as far as on the field and off the field."