Jul 29, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton (1) makes a catch against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
I have a question for everyone … Will the Chicago White Sox chances to reach the postseason go through the AL Central or a wild card winner?
For every MLB team, we know the road to the postseason goes through their own division. Though obviously a team could win one of the two wild card spots, it is a much easier route in the postseason by being a division champion.
Look at the White Sox last two playoff appearances in 2005 and 2008, as they reach the postseason as a division champion.
The White Sox were actually under .500 in ’05 versus the AL West, with a record of 15-22. However, they went 52-22 against their own division. Winning against teams in your division helps your cause to reach the postseason.
The AL Central was stronger that year ’05 (with two other teams over .500). That season, the White Sox went 99-63 and won the World Series.
Now on to ’08. The White Sox were were actually a .500 team versus the rest of baseball, while they went 44-29 against the Central.
Here is an interesting fact: The Twins were one game worse versus the division (43-30) in ’08, which was decided in a Game 163 at U.S. Cellular Field (Sox won 1-0). While the White Sox won the division that year, they were eliminated in four games in the ALDS by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Here is why winning the division is big in ’15: The AL Central doesn’t have a dominant team.
While the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals and the Cleveland Indians are very good teams, there is not a team that will run away with the division. I wouldn’t be shocked if there were three (maybe four) teams in the race the during the final week of the regular season.
I understand that the wild card is an option as well, but if a team gets into the postseason by winning one of those spots, they are forced to play a one-game wild card elimination game.
With the newer wild card format … a one-game playoff to advance in the postseason is unpredictable, but better than not playing at all.
Assuming the White Sox qualify for and win a wild card game, they would go on the road to the top seed with the potential of their pitching rotation out of order.
No team wants that.
There are cases of a team getting hot after winning the Wild Card game (look at the 2014 Kansas City Royals), but it is less stressful to take the sure route to the ALDS by winning your division, mostly just for the fact you can more easily control the starting rotation.
Competing for a wild card spot with the likes of the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners is not as easy as competing with the Tigers and Royals, at least from what I see this upcoming season.
It is this simple for the White Sox … If they want to make the postseason, their best bet is to win the Central.
I don’t know if they are better than the top teams from the AL East and AL West over a long season, but they can compete with anyone in the Central.
If they play well against their top competitors within the division, look for the White Sox to be in the postseason race – either in the AL Central or wild card – by the time the ’15 season comes to a close.