How did the White Sox find themselves on top of the American League?

  • American League
  • Chicago White Sox
  • MLB
By Nick Sullivan September 15, 2020 1 Comment

As of Monday morning, the Chicago White Sox find themselves as the #1 seed in the American League. How did they get here?

The Chicago White Sox not only sit atop of the A.L. Central division at 30-16 but are at the apex of the entire American League. While there is still some season left to play this is a moment of victory for not only the organization but for its fans who had to endure some ugly seasons to get here.

There is no telling if the Sox will finish as the top dog in the A.L., but let’s enjoy it while they’re here! How did a team that hasn’t finished above .500 since 2012 become the 3rd winningest team in all of baseball? Here are several reasons why.

The Sox Stars Are Coming Through

If this had been a normal year its safe to say that the A.L. All-Star team would feature many members of the Palehose. The main reason the Sox are seeing so much success this season is that their star players are coming through!

Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson once again looks to capture the A.L. batting title as he leads the MLB with a .362 average. Anderson is slashing .362/.402/.579 with 7 HRs 17 RBIs and 5 steals. Safe to say the White Sox’s leadoff hitter has been the driving force and should find his name on MVP ballots this year.

Jose Abreu

Jose Abreu has revived his stardom as a slugger by having a monster season. “Pito” is slashing .317/.361/.619 with 15 HRs and 48 RBIs. Not to mention the ludicrous weekend series at Wrigley in which Jose hit 6 HRs against the Cubs. On top of the slugging, Jose has shown a tremendous improvement flashing the leather at first base. Like the previously mentioned Anderson, Abreu too should find his name on MVP ballots after the 2020 season.

Lucas Giolito

If 2019 did not convince baseball fans and writers that Lucas Giolito was a legit ace, he sure has silenced the doubters with his 2020 performance thus far. On top of throwing a no-hitter a few weeks ago, Giolito sports a 4-2 record with a 3.43 ERA, 82 K’s, and a WHIP of 1.03. When Giolito takes the ball every fifth day, it feels all but certain that the Sox will walk away with the win. Once the Sox make their expected return to the postseason this year, Giolito should be toeing the rubber in Game 1.

Eloy Jimenez

Eloy Jimenez has the potential to be the best bat in the entire White Sox lineup by the time its all said and done. Currently, Eloy is slashing .301/.337/.590 with 13 HRs and 36 RBIs. Many of Eloy’s moonshots have come in big spots this season, such as the 3-run shot he hit off of Casey Mize Friday night that gave the Sox a comeback victory. His power is only beginning to shine through. Don’t be surprised if one day Eloy hits over 50 home runs. He’s that good.

Yoan Moncada

Now hear me out on this one. Yoan Moncada has not looked nearly on par with his 2019 self. Reportedly he has been struggling to come back fully from the effects of COVID-19. You can see it in his play. Despite this Yoan boasts a slash line of .258/.341/.411 with 5 HRS, 21 RBIs, and 20 runs scored. The switch hitter is getting on base and, thanks to his above-average speed, he is scoring runs. Moncada is not putting out nearly the production he should be, but he has still found ways to make an impact on the league’s best offense.

The Bullpen Has Been Spectacular

According to MLB.com, the Sox are 8th in team bullpen ERA at 3.80 with a win-loss record of 13-6. The bullpen has not wasted very many opportunities this year. Alex Colome, although many fans complain he makes them feel uneasy, has been an absolute lock at the back of the pen this year. He is 1-0 with a 1.02 ERA and is 11 for 12 in save opportunities. Colome may not be the fireballer most teams have at the back end, as he lives and dies off of a 89-92 mph cutter, but he has ice in his veins. Colome thrives on pressure and comes through when the team needs him.

After Colome, the Sox bullpen has benefited from the youth movement that has poured into it. Since Aaron Bummer went down to injury, the Sox young arms have been effectively getting the ball to Colome. Cody Heuer, who is probably the most impressive, has a 2-0 record with a 2.01 ERA and has held opponents to a .123 average. Not to mention he sits 98-100 with the fastball. Matt Foster has also stepped up big time since his callup, sporting a 4-0 record with a 1.31 ERA.

If the Sox are to go anywhere in the playoffs, the bullpen will need to stay at the top of its game.

“Chicks Dig the Longball”

The Sox offense has proven itself a force to be reckoned with, mainly because of the longball. The offense ranks 1st in the A.L. and 4th in the MLB in home runs this season. The Sox have made a tremendous jump in this category and continue to climb. The South Sider’s offense also ranks 5th in the MLB and 1st in the A.L. in OPS at .810.

Taking a more specific look at the offense’s power here are their homerun totals by player:

Jose Abreu: 15 HRs

Eloy Jimenez: 13 HRs

Luis Robert: 11 HRs

Edwin Encarnacion: 8 HRs

Tim Anderson: 7 HRs

Yasmani Grandal: 6 HRs

James McCann and Yoan Moncada: 5 HRs

The point being the Sox have multiple bats who can change the game with one swing of the bat. There are no free outs anymore that’s for sure.

The New Additions Are Making An Impact

Ever since the Sox won the World Series in 2005, new big-name additions have rarely made an impact outside of Jim Thome. However, that is not the case this year.

Yasmani Grandal is not only a versatile fielder, playing both catcher and first base, but he is slashing .250/.371/.435 with 6 HRs and 22 RBIs. He has been a great supplementary piece and by all accounts a great clubhouse guy.

Dallas Keuchel has been the best pitcher on the team this year. If not for Shane Bieber in Cleveland, Keuchel may be the frontrunner for the AL Cy Young award. His 6-2 record, 2.19 ERA, and .219 average against are just unprecedented levels for a White Sox free-agent pitcher. Dallas should be the Game 2 starter come the postseason, and one fans should feel REALLY good about.

Edwin Encarnacion has had mixed results. He has struggled mightily at the plate but has somehow been able to hit out 8 HR balls. Considering that’s what he was brought here to do, he can sneak onto the back of this list for now.

Young Players Are Stepping It Up

In this shortened season that has been unkind with injuries, the Sox decided that they would tap into the pipeline for reinforcements.

After signing a team-friendly extension in the offseason, Luis Robert began the season as the Opening Day centerfielder. He is currently in a two-horse race with Seattle Mariners outfielder Kyle Lewis for the A.L. Rookie of the Year. Robert has been a massive impact for the Sox this year, playing elite defense and providing some timely hitting at the plate. He has some work to do with his plate discipline, but Robert has come running out of the gates for the Sox unlike any of their other top prospects through the years. He currently boasts a line of .259/.320/.519 with 11 HRs and 6 stolen bases.

Nick Madrigal has gotten the callup to be the Sox 2nd basemen this season and so far the top prospect has been as advertised. He has played solid defense, been an aggressive baserunner, and has shown off his tremendous contact skills with a .362/.383/.397 line over 16 games. He will probably never hit double-digit HRs, but his elite contact skills are a great tool to have at the bottom of the lineup.

The Sox have also received a boost to the rotation from a pair of their top prospects. Dane Dunning is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA over 4 starts. Dunning has been as advertised as having good stuff and great command. His emergence has come at the perfect time as we have also witnessed the collapse of Reynaldo Lopez. The other arm to come up, Johnathan Stiever made his debut Sunday afternoon and threw very well over 3 and 2/3 innings. He was on a short leash due to his inexperience and lack of play this year,  but he stepped up big to fill a hole and lead the Sox to a win.

Rick Renteria

Certainly, this take will cause no controversy amongst fans.

Ricky has always been a hard manager to figure out in the past. Still, he makes questionable calls, such as his insistence to throw Jimmy Cordero to the wolves multiple days in a row. Love him or hate him, Ricky has been the right guy for the job (*cringes).

The clubhouse has phenomenal chemistry, truly the best the Sox have had in my lifetime. The manager is not 100% to credit for this, but he certainly helps set the tone. Ricky being bilingual is also a massive asset that cannot be overlooked. Most of the Sox players are from Spanish speaking parts of the world and although most are learning to speak English, it takes time. Ricky can communicate with all of the players without a barrier.

His lineups also have been pretty good this season, specifically how he has handled Moncada’s struggles and his persistence to keep Tim Anderson in the leadoff spot post-injury. Ricky is not a perfect strategist, but this season he has lead the team as good as anyone could in his position.

Most importantly, he gets along with the front office! I love Ozzie Guillen too guys, but it is crazy to want him back as manager after the absolute trainwreck he caused toward the end of his tenure.

Sox Have Taken Advantage of the Schedule

As has been previously stated here at The Brawl Network, the Sox needed to take advantage of their weaker opponents if they were to surprise this season. They have. Big time.

The Sox have dominated the Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Kansas City Royals. These were the three teams they specifically needed to dominate and they have done just that. Against these three teams, the Sox have gone 21-3. Other teams such as the Minnesota Twins have struggled against these opponents, something former Sox teams surely would have done.

If the Sox can finish strong they may just be able to hold onto the #1 seed in the A.L. and get a more favorable matchup. A division title would be something to celebrate, but this team is hungry and knows what its capable of achieving.

Once the postseason starts anything can happen, the Sox want to be standing on top of the American League the rest of the way.

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Comments

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Chris martin

September 15, 2020

On the money!!

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