White Sox look to stay atop the central division long term
One Week of play is in the books in Major League Baseball’s 2016 season, and the Chicago White Sox are in first place in the American League Central. Yes, you read that correctly, the White Sox are in first place in the AL Central. That’s the first time we’ve been able to claim that in quite some time, and even though it’s only seven games in, it sure feels damn good to say.
The offensive firepower that we saw in Arizona this spring has not quite carried over, some of that can be attributed to the cold over the last three games, and some not so much. Regardless of why the power stroke that we saw in Arizona hasn’t quite parlayed into the regular season so far, the hitting has been timely. They have gotten their big hits, as well as their hits in bunches when they needed them the most.
With a team slash line of .235/.303/.340 the White Sox are middle of the pack in offensive production through the first week. Not where we want them to be, but most certainly an upgrade from 2015 when they were in the cellar in terms of offensive production all year long.
Here’s the reason for the White Sox early success:
- Team ERA: 2.76 (4th in MLB)
- K/BB: 59 K / 16 BB (+43 K’s)
- Opponent BA: .217 (5th in MLB)
- WHIP: 1.06 (3rd in MLB)
- Earned Runs: 19 (4th in MLB)
- Home Runs Allowed: 3 (2nd in MLB)
- Defense Efficiency Rating: .719 (7th in MLB)
The White Sox rank in the top five in all of the major pitching categories across all of baseball, and seventh in defensive efficiency. The White Sox are winning on solid pitching, solid defense, and timely hitting. That’s a recipe for long term success, so long as they can sustain those qualities over the course of the full 162.
The starting pitching has been great, minus John Danks who was tagged for five earned runs, in five innings during Friday’s home opener against the Indians. Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, and Mat Latos have a combined record of 4-1 with a 2.54 ERA, 34 K’s, and just eight walks over 38.2 innings pitched.
The bullpen however has been just as good, if not better than the starting rotation. Matt Albers, Dan Jennings, Jake Petricka, and David Robertson have pitched a combined 12 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, while striking out 12 hitters over the first week of the season. The entire Sox bullpen has allowed just three earned runs over 18.0 Innings Pitched in the first seven games, giving them an ERA of 1.50 over that span.
I have to imagine that the offense will continue to pick up the pace as we move forward into warmer weather, and more at-bats against quality pitchers.
During the entire month of March we heard from Arizona that this team had a great amount of clubhouse chemistry, especially so early on with so many new players. That has parlayed into the regular season, and it’s showing on the field, as well as in the box score. This is a group of guys that really mesh, they have the right mix of youth and veterans, and they have brought a new culture to the White Sox, one that looks like a winning culture.
So yes, it’s early still, very early in fact and the White Sox have a tough road ahead in what looks to be a bruising division. But these guys can play, and they know it. That’s the biggest key to all of this success, these guys know that they can win, and now with the help of some newly acquired veterans they’re learning how to put it together.
We are in year four of Rick Hahn’s tenure as general manager, with each year we have seen the win total increase, this year will be no exception to that, the White Sox are here to compete in 2016.