Following an abysmal 63-99 2013 campaign, it looked like the White Sox were a downhill team that had little to no future. With Paul Konerko aging, Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez not contributing to a high level, and with extended batting average troubles involving Adam Dunn, the South Siders were destined for failure in 2014 as well.
Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn would not let that happen.
After nabbing top Cuban slugger Jose Abreu following his defect into the United States, the White Sox decided to work with what they had, and build around the positives on the team, namely Chris Sale, who has proven to be one of the best pitchers in the game. This new, revived mindset of Robin Ventura and Co. have led to a 25-25 start through 50 games, and despite extreme struggles on the mound, the White Sox have become one of the most powerful offenses in the MLB.
The South Siders have been able to exploit what has been a weaker AL Central to this point, which has allowed them to stay contenders. While the Detroit Tigers clearly look like division winners, the Cleveland Indians are performing well below expectations, the Kansas City Royals have yet to truly heat up, and the Minnesota Twins’ rebuilt rotation has landed them dead last in the MLB in strikeouts.
Even though the White Sox look like a completely different team, outside of the Abreu acquisition and other minor roster moves, the core of the White Sox remains the same. This makes it imperative to really wonder if the White Sox will be a .500 or better team this year, or even a Wild Card team. The outstanding performances by Alexei Ramirez, Adam Dunn, and Tyler Flowers thus far may show as evidence that this team is due to regress.
While Flowers is hitting at a healthy .312 average through the 43 games he’s played, it’s miles above his .223 career average. Since the White Sox were able to get this production out of their catcher this year, the product being put on the field is that all nine hitters are threats to the opposing pitching staff.
Alexei Ramirez has arguably been the best shortstop in the American League this year, putting up staggering numbers in comparison to his usual performance. Ramirez has already outdone his 2013 home run total, and is batting .325, well above his .280 career average.
Hitting won’t do everything, however.
With a 4.71 team ERA, the White Sox are ranked dead last in the MLB. Outside of Chris Sale’s outstanding start, the White Sox’ rather pedestrian bullpen leads many to believe that this team will not be able to contend come August and September.
The Chicago White Sox are dynamic, improved, and exciting. Yet with no clear improvement in pitching and the high probability of many of the team’s big performers being due to regress, the Chicago White Sox are headed in the right direction, but are not quite contenders in the American League just yet.