But I kinda told you so. I’m speaking of my rating the White Sox the 8th best team in baseball in my pre-season rankings. Many have been waiting for the big fall, but when you reach a point where you are 21 games above .500, it’s time to forget about losing seasons. Only 3 teams are playing better than .600 baseball (Cards, Twins, and White Sox), as the difference between 4 and 22 in the rankings is about 7 games in the standings. The following is my monthly piece on the beauty of the White Sox.
First though, we must discuss the Yankees role in this story, as it’s mandated by ESPN. The Yankees are 11 games behind the White Sox and 7 games behind the Twins in the wild card race. I’m not saying the Bronx Pacifists are out of the Playoff hunt, but I think their focus needs to be on winning the East, as it’s their best odds. As bad as the Yanks have played, they are only 3 games behind the Red Sox. The Orioles are good, but their pitching is starting to catch up with them, while the Blue Jays have ridden one of the 2 best pitchers in the AL, Roy Halladay, but with the rest of the staff, an overall losing record lurks.
I’ve been a broken record since the winter that the White Sox starting staff was way better than people were giving it credit for. Sure, it’s highly unlikely that they are going to continue at the pace they’ve set since opening day, but then, the hitting of the White Sox has shown signs of awakening, which should balance that out. If you are unaware, outside of the top 2 in the batting order, Posednik and Iguchi, not one other Sox regular has played up to past career levels. The brightest addition for the rest of the season’s offense is the return of a hitter with a career OPS of .996, Frank Thomas. Sure his health is still a question mark, but what a Huge edition to the lineup, if he is in the batter’s box.
When handicapping the AL Central race, here are the main factors to watch for the rest of the season.
1)Who will fall off more from their current All-Star stats, Jon Garland or Carlos Silva?
2)Will the White Sox relief pitching continue to be solid? (This is the Twins biggest strength.)
3)Who will provide more offense, Justin Morneau or Frank Thomas? (Health is the major factor.)
4)Who will provide more offense, A.J. Pierzynski or Joe Mauer? (See above.)
5)Will Posednik and Iguchi continue to spur the offense, with OBP’s over .350?
6)Can Joe Mays hold up? (The White Sox have more starting pitching depth.)
7)Will Ozzie Guillen take clippers to Jeff Brantley’s mullet? (Sorry, that’s for another post)