Why It's Time to Consider the White Sox Playoff Bound
by Scott Long
It has been a magical season in Chicago, if you are a baseball fan. Both the Cubs and Sox are up by 3.5 games, in their respective divisions. While the Cubs have the best record in baseball, the Sox might even be a better bet to win their division. Here is why the White Sox look to be the prohibitive favorites to win the AL Central.
At the beginning of the season, there were 2 AL bullpens which looked to be above all others, the Red Sox and Angels. The White Sox have joined these 2, as Kenny Williams did a masterful job of retooling what was the biggest reason the team was so dismal in 2007. Both Scott Linebrink and Octavio Dotel have refound velocity they haven't had in a couple of years. Add to this hard throwing Matt Thornton, Boone Logan, and Nick Massett and you have a very deep bullpen. They get the ball to one of the top 5 closers in baseball, Bobby Jenks.
The Indians and Tigers have serious problems in their bullpens.
The Tigers are 10.5 games behind the Sox and their starting pitching staff is in shambles.
The Indians are 6.5 games behind the Sox and have 2 starting pitchers on the DL.
The Twins are 3.5 games behind the Sox and have a starting pitching staff that is too young and inexperienced to count on for 162 games.
The White Sox lead MLB in quality starts (39) and have 3 pitchers (Vasquez, Buerhle, Contreras) with a track record of throwing 200+ innings.
Only Carlos Quentin and Joe Crede are hitting above their statistical expectations. So far, most of the hitters have been below expectations, with Thome, Konerko, and Swisher flirting with the Mendoza line all year.
Here is the biggest reason the AL Central crown looks so promising. In a year when home field has been such a huge advantage, the Sox have played less games at home (26) than any other team. The biggest surprise teams in the AL this season have played 8 or more than Chicago. (Tampa 34, Minnesota 35, Oakland 34) There are only 2 AL teams with non-losing records on the road, the Angels and the White Sox. While it is early in the year, the White Sox look to be the clear-cut favorites to win the AL Cental.