Forget for just a moment that the Chicago White Sox hit .271 as a team and went 18-8 in the month of May.
Forget that the Sox had 39 dingers and scored 156 runs for the month for an average of 5.38 runs per game.
Forget for a moment that Paul Konerko hit .379, Dayan Viciedo hit .351, Alejandro De Aza hit .313 in May.
Finally, forget that Adam Dunn has 17 home runs and 38 RBI while Gordon Beckham seems like the fit the Sox have been looking for in the two-hole all year.
The White Sox are not going to win the AL Central based upon their hitting, even if this pace keeps up for the rest of the year. The White Sox are going to win the Central because of their pitching.
Entering play on Saturday, the White Sox have, far and away, the best pitching in the AL Central and some of the best in the American League. Let’s take a look at how the Sox stack up against the rest of the Central and the American League:
- 1st with a 3.86 team ERA (6th in AL)
- 1st with 31 quality starts (2nd in AL)
- 1st in strikeouts (5th in AL)
- 1st in batting average against (T-1st AL)
- 1st in WHIP with an amazing 1.191 (1st in AL)
Pretty phenomenal numbers considering how bad Gavin Floyd, Philip Humber and John Danks have been at times. Every other team in the Central has a team ERA of 4.20 or higher. The Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers sport team ERAs over 4.25.
The AL can hit, it is as simple as that, and the teams with the best pitching win division titles nowadays. Take Detroit last year as an example. The Tigers were in second place well into June last year and won the division by 15 games over the Indians.
Why, you ask? Was it their hitting? No, it was not; the Tigers pulled away thanks to their pitching staff. Justin Verlander was outstanding all year en route to an AL MVP and the Cy Young award, while Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello produced as expected in the second half of the season. The shrewd pickup of Doug Fister, who went 8-1, put Detroit over the top.
In addition to the the success of the starters, the Tigers trotted out five relievers with over 30 appearances who had WHIPs of 1.50 or lower.
The Sox are, right now, in exactly the same position Detroit was in last year, with two exceptions.
Second, and most importantly, the White Sox have seven, that’s right seven, relievers on pace for more than 30 appearances who currently have WHIPs below 1.50. Outstanding stuff. Three solid lefties (yes, Will Ohman is actually a solid lefty) compliment right-handers Jessie Crain and rookie phenom Nate Jones, while Addison Reed has established himself as a fearless closer.
With my daughter's favorite White Sox pitcher, Zach Stewart, pitching long relief (his 4.08 ERA is lower than Danks, Humber and Floyd's), the Sox are in great shape from a pitching perspective.
The one move that permanently solidifies the White Sox as having the best pitching staff in the Central is releasing the bag-of-bats we all know as Kosuke Fukudome and keeping lefty call-up Hector Santiago on the roster. The Sox are stocked!
The adage thrown around baseball is that if you want to win the division, you have to beat the division. In order to win in this year’s AL Central, the formidable lineups of both Detroit and Cleveland have to be offset, and the White Sox have just the men for the job.
Enjoy the offensive production while it lasts, but team pitching is going to win the Central for the Sox this year.