While much has been made of the Chicago White Sox record against teams with a .500 or better win percentage, the team still finds itself with a comfortable lead in the American League Central division.
However, while the White Sox have managed to separate themselves from the pack, they have done so without putting together any significant win streaks. Beating up on those without playoff chances, winning series, and avoiding lengthy losing streaks has been key to putting them in first place.
The criticism of not beating those they need to beat can be supplemented by their inability to go on a run that could place more distance between themselves and second place. To date, the longest win streak the White Sox have assembled is six games back in May. They achieved five-game win streaks twice, each of which occurred before the All-Star break. Since the break, the White Sox have maxed out at two in a row and that has happened only one time.
By comparison, the West-leading Houston Astros, East leader Tampa Bay Rays, and second place division rival Boston Red Sox have put together several runs which put all of them with win percentages ahead of the White Sox.
The Chicago White Sox are capable of beating anyone whenever they play them.
The Astros opened the season in April with one four-game streak and three separate three-game runs. Since then, Houston ripped off one 10 game run and two six-game streaks prior to the All-Star game. To begin the second half, they have twice won three in a row.
Tampa’s high watermark is 11 games in May which also saw them rattle off streaks of five and three games that month. The Rays also have one six-game run, three five gamers, and closed out July having won their last three.
Boston got April off right taking nine in a row during the month, had two four-game streaks in May, and backed up a five-game streak with an eight-game streak between June and July. The ability to put multiple winning streaks together as Houston, Tampa, and Boston has indicated when these front runners get hot they can stay in that zone for extended periods of time. Just as impressive is each of these teams has accomplished their feats in divisions with tougher competition than that of the Central.
This is not to say the White Sox can’t compete with these teams or are not capable of going on a big run themselves. They do possess the talent to go off on a big stretch but have yet to do so. They have posted wins against teams that show they belong in the upper echelon of the American League, but they have also have had some difficulties since the break having only taken series from Houston and Cleveland.
Winning streaks during the season create momentum and confidence. Teams know they are good enough to get hot and remain so for extended periods. The White Sox seem to be doing things more methodically by placing winning a series over collecting wins by sequence. There is something to be said for that, but perhaps fans would feel more confident in seeing the White Sox get on a run that extends beyond sweeping a series.
With the recent acquisitions made to bolster a playoff push and a possible run deep into the playoffs, the White Sox may yet hit a stride that ties more than a couple of wins together and further legitimizes them as a force in the American League.