After 11 seasons of watching the postseason from home, the Chicago White Sox have finally broken out and have risen all the way to the top of the American League in the crazy 2020 season.
It was not farfetched to say the White Sox would have a shot to end the drought this year. With much-anticipated debuts coming from outfielder Luis Robert, infielder Nick Madrigal and starting pitcher Dane Dunning coinciding with high profile free agent signings like catcher Yasmani Grandal and starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, the White Sox looked like a potential playoff team before opening day.
Their playoff chances significantly increased when the postseason was expanded, and a second-place finish was a guarantee while a third-place finish still allowed for a likely playoff berth.
What was not expected was that the White Sox would hold the AL’s best record in September, and being the first American League team to clinch a playoff berth. While it is fair to note that teams have great 60 game stretches and then run out of gas during a 162-game season, (like the 2014 Miami Marlins) the White Sox have taken a massive step towards leaving the stagnation that has consumed them since 2008.
One player who has been outstanding for White Sox this year is shortstop Tim Anderson. Anderson broke out in 2019, hitting .334 with 18 HR’s and had a .865 OPS. This season, Anderson has skyrocketed these stats, hitting.373 with 8 HR’s and a 1.006 OPS. While the home runs don’t jump out, when put on a 162 game pace he would have about 33 home runs on the season.
Another player who has been huge for the White Sox this season is Jose Abreu. Abreu has hit .327 with 16 HR’s and an OPS of .996, all of which being career highs except for home runs. However, in a normal season, Abreu would be on pace for about 52 home runs which would be a career high.
Abreu and Anderson have been the White Sox’ most valuable players, but the team has also seen significant contributions from players like catcher James McCann, outfielder Eloy Jimenez, Robert, outfielder Adam Engel, and Madrigal.
The only players who have been disappointing are Grandal, infielder Yoan Moncada and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion. However, Grandal is a plus defender, Moncada is very versatile and maybe the face of the franchise when hot, and Encarnacion is a veteran presence with a known clutch factor. These three will be a bonus to have come playoff time.
On the pitching side, Keuchel has had a bounce-back season, currently sitting at 6–2 with a 2.19 E.R.A. across 53.1 IP. Dunning has been elite since being called up, going 2–0 with a 2.33 E.R.A in 27.0 IP. In addition, starting pitchers Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease have both been solid this season, having stat lines of 4–3 with a 3.53 E.R.A across 66.1 IP and 5 –2 with a 3.20 E.R.A across 50.2 innings respectively. Giolito also notably threw a no-hitter Aug. 25 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In the bullpen, Ross Detwiler, Cody Heuer, Matt Foster, and Evan Marshall have all been strong bullpen arms while closer Alex Colome has been outstanding. Colome has maintained a 0.95 E.R.A with 11 saves in 12 attempts across 19 IP.
Statistically, the White Sox stand out. When it comes to style, they run the table. A clear example is located in the tweet below.
The style is enviable. Can you blame other pitchers for being intimidated by the White Sox? Also, Anderson is an emotional player who helps bring an edge to the team that has clearly been adopted as their identity. It would be safe to say the Chicago’s South Side would be packing the park regularly if they were allowed to enter Guaranteed Rate Field.
It’s undeniable to say that the White Sox have had an outstanding year, but it is a fair question to wonder if it is sustainable. Everything has gone right this season for Chicago and in a 60-game season, a strong stretch is all that is truly needed to be in this position. It is also important to note that they may be facing an experienced playoff team like the Yankees or Astros early in the playoffs as a result of those franchises struggles this season. Additionally, the White Sox have only faced the NL and AL Central divisions, neither of which being the strongest divisions in the league.
The White Sox may not win the World Series this year. They are overall very inexperienced and have some tough opponents eager to face them in the playoffs. They also may not repeat this season in 2021, as teams often fluctuate for a few years before they really make a mark. However, it is still very possible that these are obtainable goals and it is seeming like the White Sox are back and they are ready to play some baseball.