For the common fan, the Chicago White Sox have been a bit of a mixed bag so far this season. The team currently sits at 27-19, good for 1st place in the AL Central and fourth overall in the American League. Some might take solace in that record and see a team that is continuing to compete in a competitive division. Others might look at it as an underwhelming start, with expectations as high as they have been in almost ten years. All of that gets even more complicated when you add Tony La Russa and key injuries to the equation.
When diving deeper into the numbers, one thing cannot be denied: the White Sox are trending in the right direction. In fact, they might be one of the most well rounded teams in baseball.
A Perfect Balance
In a game like baseball, consistency is key. Everyday players need to be trusted to produce over the course of a long season, which is why the teams playing in October usually don’t come out of left field. While you have the occasional outlier, an analytically friendly sport like baseball can usually spot the contenders and pretenders early on in the season. By this logic, the White Sox should be on everyone’s radar.
Let’s start with Run Differential.
|2021||Total Run Differential||Home||Away|
|Chicago White Sox||+64.0 (3rd)||+32.0 (5th)||+32.0 (2nd)|
What makes Run Differential such an important statistic is it’s ability to show how well teams fare both at home and on the road. It also highlights teams that can consistently score more runs than their opponent, regardless of individual game results. For example, teams with a great offense in a blowout win could pad their run differential. However, a poor pitching performance the next game could kill it completely. It’s a good, balanced statistic and it shows the level of consistency that the White Sox have shown regardless of location. Most teams show a considerable tilt based on location, which proves the White Sox are capable of winning anywhere, at any time.
It should also be noted that all teams in the top ten of total run differential are above .500. The White Sox are the only team on the list with an even home/away split.
“Because They Get On Base”
The Chicago White Sox offense is pretty unconventional when it comes to classic standards. With the premature losses of Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, the team is lacking in fire power, so they’ve found ways to make up for it. While they can certainly drive runs in, they don’t hit home runs at a wild rate. They also sit at league average at stealing bases and they don’t see a ton of plate appearances. To the typical baseball loyalist, their offense isn’t very exciting at all.
|2021||Home Runs||RBI||Runs||Stolen Bases||Plate Appearances||Slugging %|
|Chicago White Sox||45 (25th)||218 (6th)||232 (6th)||20 (T-16th)||1502 (26th)||.406 (11th)|
However, they get on base, put balls in the air, advance runners on hard hit balls, and they don’t strike out. They also like to take their walks and lay down sacrifice bunts, all while batting for average and producing runs.
|Chicago White Sox||.254 (4th)||.341 (2nd)||.747 (6th)||.314 (2nd)||10 (5th)||14 (7th)||402 (11th Fewest)|
The White Sox have effectively made up for their lack of power by manufacturing runs, showing strong plate discipline and sacrificing individual stats in the better interest of the team. While it’s not perfect, it’s proven to be an effective enough system for now. Once the power bats return, all signs point to an offensive explosion.
No Runs Allowed
The obvious story when it comes to the pitching staff is the resurgence of Carlos Rodon. The longtime White Sox pitcher has bounced back from injuries to become a legitimate Cy Young candidate. Add in the fact he tossed a dominant no-hitter in April and you could say he’s carried the rotation. However, that wouldn’t do justice to how good the staff has been. The White Sox made a bold move when they replaced longtime pitching coach Don Cooper with Ethan Katz, but the results speak for themselves.
|2021||ERA||Complete Games||Shutouts||Home Runs||Strikeouts||WHIP||K/9|
|Chicago White Sox||3.28 (4th)||3 (1st)||6 (4th)||43 (5th-Fewest)||445 (10th)||1.20 (10th)||10.13 (5th)|
Dylan Cease is having his best season as a pro, Lance Lynn has been dominant, and Dallas Keuchel has been his usual, consistent self. The only starter who started slow was perennial ace Lucas Giolito, but even he has turned it around as of late. The bullpen has also had strong performances from guys like Michael Kopech, Garrett Crochet, and Jose Ruiz. There have been struggles from Liam Hendriks, Codi Heuer, and Aaron Bummer, but many expect them to turn it around.
The Perfect Balance?
By looking through all the numbers, I think it’s fair to say the Chicago White Sox are far from perfect. The thing is though, they don’t need to be. All they need is to continue to manufacture runs, eat innings with dominant performances from their starters, and lock it down with the bullpen. This team has proven to be streaky and inconsistent at times, yet advanced metrics are still on their side. Perhaps the high expectations on the south side are clouding the judgement of fans and analysts, but one thing is for sure:
The White Sox on a bad day are still better than most teams in baseball.