Fans have been hearing throughout the year about how talented the Chicago White Sox are. The problem is the team has not lived up to that talent level and now they find themselves in the position of not making the playoffs.
The White Sox needed to sweep the Cleveland Guardians in the last series between the two teams in order to hold the tiebreaker should they finish with the same record.
A sweep of the series did occur but it was the Guardians who pulled out the brooms and put the White Sox further under the carpet running their lead in the American League Central division to seven games.
That is a major turnaround from last season when the White Sox won 93 games and took the division by 13 games. In running away with the division, the White Sox looked as talented of a team as anyone in baseball.
The Chicago White Sox were not as good as we thought they’d be in 2022.
But, after wallowing around the .500 mark throughout much of the 2022 campaign, the question is are the White Sox as talented as advertised, or was last year just a one in which they caught lightning in a bottle?
The optimistic White Sox fan may believe in the former but others are concerned it could be the team is only as good as their record indicates.
Yes, it is true they did make the playoffs back in 2020 but that was a season shortened to 60 games. Any number of things could have happened had they played a full 162.
The White Sox may not be as good as they think they are and the Guardians made sure to let them know it, not just over the three-game sweep but over the course of the year by taking the season series 12-7.
What Cleveland does so well are things that they could end up doing for a while which are the little things that produce a quality team. They execute as needed, they are well coached, and they hustle from the time the first pitch is thrown to the last.
The White Sox have done just the opposite. They have committed errors in the field and on the basepaths, had a number of questionable managerial moves, and seem to lack basic baseball IQ.
Talent isn’t just about physical capabilities but mental ones as well. All the players in Major League Baseball have talent but those who can be fundamentally sound in all aspects find themselves having long careers and contributing to winning ballclubs.
During a radio broadcast a few days ago, White Sox analyst Darrin Jackson made it a point to credit shortstop Elvis Andrus for covering third base on a play requiring Yoan Moncada to charge in on a ball.
The fact he pointed that out was an indictment of how the White Sox have been lacking in doing the basic things necessary to be a winning team.
According to Spotrac, the Guardians rank 27th in payroll ($66,481,338) in the majors compared to the White Sox coming in at 7th ($196,674,558). Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez’s $22 million contract is tops on the club with pitcher Shane Bieber coming in a very distant second at $6 million.
Based on the fact the Guardians have achieved so much without having to spend a great deal speaks to how well they can identify talent and then mold that talent into creating fundamentally sound ballplayers. The results speak for themselves.
Prior to the All-Star break, team president Kenny Williams addressed the team to reiterate to them how talented they were and the need to focus and pull together to take the division.
They couldn’t think that putting on the jersey was going to be enough to win games and get them over the hump.
That transformation never seemed to materialize until Miguel Cairo assumed managerial duties from Tony La Russa. The team found a spark and began playing better for a while, that is until Cleveland came to town.
Many people believed the White Sox’s talent made them the favorites to take the AL Central crown and possibly a World Series title. The cream that rose to the top this year though, came in the form of the Guardians who would certainly take issue with which team is more talented.