The Chicago White Sox ended the first half on a hot streak winning seven of ten before the Junior Circuit defeated the National League in the All-Star Game Tuesday night.
The team has started playing the baseball they were expected to play all year when General Manager Rick Hahn made them the darling of the off-season. It has given many fans, myself included, hope that they can turn this sinking ship around and make a second half surge for a playoff spot.
However, a few things need to happen to complete the turn around.
If Ramirez and LaRoche simply play up to their career numbers that would be more than enough offense to help bolster the whole line up.
Sanchez is still a rookie so there is no reason to think he can’t figure out major league pitching but there is also a chance that never happens.
Gillaspie must be the king of Hawk’s infamous “hang with ’em’s” but those are only nice if they eventually start falling for hits (see Melky Cabrera). But with no guarantees of that and a shaky glove at third, the team may want to look elsewhere for production at the hot corner.
Secondly the pitching staff needs to stay hot. In their 11 games in July, only twice have the White Sox allowed more than three runs. That is not to say that streak will continue throughout the season because frankly that would be unrealistic.
Now if Chris Sale stays historic, Jeff Samardzija‘s recent success continues, Jose Quintana keeps doing what he is doing, and Carlos Rodon keeps learning how to pitch at the big league level, those four rotation pieces may be the best this side of our nation’s capital.
The bullpen has also been very successful all season and there is no indication to think they will have the wheels fall off.
Lastly, the defense needs to improve.
According to FanGraphs, this is the worst defensive team in all of baseball. And when you watch them live, you can believe it. Outside of Sanchez and maybe Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia, this defense has been atrocious.
Sanchez is on the team because of his glove (certainly not his bat) and it has certainly proved a worthwhile investment. The defensive numbers would be unbearable without him playing day-in and day-out. Eaton and Garcia do what they need to in the outfield and occasionally more, but Gillaspie and Ramirez have combined for 22 errors on the left side of the infield.
The pitching has been overcoming those mistakes lately but that is no recipe for success. Look at why the Kansas City Royals are doing so well. The short answer is their historically good defense. If the White Sox were middle of the pack defensively, they could easily be in third place in this division (and playing above .500 baseball).
If the Southsiders get their offense and defense to play near the level of their pitching, this team can make others take notice in the second half. Then maybe, just maybe, they can make an outside run to contend for the postseason.