Comparing the 2012 White Sox to the 2008 Playoff Team at Each Position
The last time the Chicago White Sox reached the postseason was 2008, and they were led by manager Ozzie Guillen.
That team finished the season 89-74 and edged the Minnesota Twins 1-0 in the famous "black out" game to officially make the playoffs.
While this year's White Sox are not yet officially in the postseason, they do control their destiny and have a legitimate shot at getting there with under 15 games left.
There are a lot of differences and a lot of similarities—including a few of the same players—between the 2008 team and this year's team.
Still around are catcher A.J. Pierzynski and first baseman Paul Konerko—both of whom were also part of the 2005 World Series team. They both continue to produce, even as they pass the prime of their careers.
Still there is shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who was a rookie during the 2008 campaign and played a different position for that White Sox team.
Also still around are pitchers Gavin Floyd and Matt Thornton, both of whom had big seasons in 2008 and were an integral part of the White Sox's run to the playoffs.
Both teams could hit the long ball, and while the 2008 team probably had deeper starting pitching, the 2012 squad arguably has the better bullpen and plays better defense.
In the end, the 2008 team fell three games to one to the Tampa Bay Rays in the first round of the playoffs—now we wait and see what's in store for the 2012 team.
Here's a look at how the 2012 White Sox team compares to that 2008 playoff team at each position.
First Base (Paul Konerko '08 vs. Paul Konerko '12)
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Paul Konerko has been about as steady as they come during his 14 seasons on the South Side of Chicago.
However, 2008 was actually one of his weakest seasons statistically.
In '08 Konerko hit only .240—the second-lowest average he has had in a White Sox uniform—while smacking 22 home runs and driving in 62 runs.
It's probably no coincidence that he also recorded his second-lowest on-base percentage of .344 that year.
Despite Konerko's less than productive year, the 2008 White Sox had a potent offense around him, which helped them reach the postseason.
This season Konerko jumped out to a hot start and has cooled down as the season has worn on, but he continues to keep his average above the .300 mark while also continuing to hit for decent power numbers with 24 home runs and 70 RBI—in the end he should have at least 25 home runs and drive in 75 to 80 runs.
The good news for the White Sox is that Konerko again has a solid offense around him this season thanks to some guys putting up unexpected numbers.
Konerko has been a staple in the middle of the Sox lineup for some time and hasn't had many down years like 2008—so in this battle, the 2012 Konerko definitely is the better model.
Advantage: Paul Konerko (2012)
Second Base (Alexei Ramirez '08 vs. Gordon Beckham '12)
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In 2008, Alexei Ramirez was a rookie and showed his versatility by playing several positions for the White Sox, but he spent most of his time at second base.
Ramirez had an outstanding rookie season offensively, hitting .290 with 21 home runs and 77 RBI. He also played a solid second base and showed flashes of what he could do defensively.
In 2012, Ramirez is the everyday shortstop and his double-play partner at second base is Gordon Beckham.
Beckham has had another outstanding season defensively and has put together a pretty nice season offensively with a recent surge of production over the last month.
Though he is hitting around the .240 mark, he has already surpassed his previous high in home runs with 16 and looks like he will also eclipse his previous high of 63 RBI by the end of the season.
This is a close call, but in the end, the nod goes to Gordon Beckham because of his stellar defense.
Advantage: Gordon Beckham (2012)
Shortstop (Orlando Cabrera '08 vs. Alexei Ramirez '12)
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Shortstop Orlando Cabrera's only season in Chicago was a productive one.
In 2008, Cabrera hit .281 with eight home runs and 57 RBI from the leadoff position. In addition he had a team-high 186 hits, scored 93 runs and stole a team-high 19 bases.
He also played well defensively with a .977 fielding percentage.
This season, Alexei Ramirez has also been productive offensively. He is hitting .269 with nine home runs and 69 RBI.
Ramirez has also had a great season defensively committing only 11 errors thus far, which is good for a .982 fielding percentage.
Overall, as much as I like Alexei, I believe that Cabrera was more valuable to his team because of the damage he did from the leadoff position.
In another close one, this one goes to Cabrera and the 2008 team.
Advantage: Orlando Cabrera (2008)
Third Base (Joe Crede '08 vs. Kevin Youkilis '12)
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Joe Crede was the starting third baseman for the majority of the season for the 2008 White Sox, but he did miss a big chunk of time because of injuries.
Crede was always a fan favorite on the South Side thanks to his clutch hitting and stellar defense.
In 2008, Crede played in only 97 games, hitting .248, but was able to hit 17 home runs with 55 RBI. However, he committed 21 errors in those 97 games, which was a very high total, especially for him.
Since coming to the White Sox in a trade with Boston in late June, Kevin Youkilis has definitely made an impact.
In 68 games, "Youk" is hitting only .230, but he has hit 15 home runs and has driven in 45 runs—and many of those runs have been big ones.
He also also played a pretty solid third base, committing only five errors with a .972 fielding percentage.
This is the case of two guys who are very similar to each other—they are both players who have been fan favorites and who have a knack for getting big hits.
However, in terms of this comparison, the edge goes to Kevin Youkilis because of the huge impact he has had on the 2012 White Sox since coming over in the middle of the season.
Advantage: Kevin Youkilis (2012)
Left Field (Carlos Quentin '08 vs. Dayan Viciedo '12)
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2008 was a big year for White Sox left fielder Carlos Quentin as he hit just about everything in sight.
Quentin was on his way to a possible MVP season before breaking a bone in his hand with only a few weeks left—of course he did this by smacking the bat with his hand after a frustrating strikeout.
Despite playing in only 130 games, Quentin hit .288 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI and 96 runs—it was by far Quentin's most productive season of his career.
Rookie Dayan Viciedo, who basically took the place of the departed Carlos Quentin, has been in left field in 2012.
Viciedo has done a nice job in his first full season in the majors—he is currently hitting .252 with 21 home runs and 66 RBI.
He has also played a better left field than most expected, committing only two errors to this point.
Viciedo looks like the has the potential to put up some big numbers in years to come, but in this comparison, the nod would have to go to Carlos Quentin because of his monster season in 2008.
Advantage: Carlos Quentin (2008)
Center Field (Nick Swisher '08 vs. Alejandro De Aza '12)
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Nick Swisher came to the White Sox in a trade before the 2008 season and with him came a lot of expectations.
Unfortunately, Swisher wasn't really able to live up to the lofty expectations—he hit only .219 but did hit 24 home runs and drove in 69 runs.
He also did a decent job defensively even though he was really playing out of position in center field for most of the year.
This was Swisher's only season in Chicago as he was traded to the Yankees following the season.
One of the nice surprises for the 2012 White Sox has been the play of center fielder and leadoff man Alejandro De Aza.
De Aza has been a spark plug at the top of the order for most of the season—he is currently hitting .279 with nine home runs, 50 RBI, 79 runs scored and leads the team with 24 stolen bases.
With the recent of acquisition of Dewayne Wise, De Aza has played more left field, where he apparently feels more comfortable; nevertheless he has done a great job wherever he has played in the outfield.
Swisher didn't have a terrible season in 2008, but he wasn't quite what the White Sox expected. At the same time, De Aza has been more than the White Sox could have hoped for as a leadoff man.
This one definitely goes to De Aza.
Advantage: Alejandro De Aza (2012)
Right Field (Jermaine Dye '08 vs. Alex Rios '12)
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This one is really close.
Jermaine Dye had one of his best seasons in a White Sox uniform—as well as his career—in 2008.
The 2005 World Series MVP hit a team-high .292 with 34 home runs and 96 RBIs in 2008—his 96 RBIs was second only to Carlos Quentin's 100 and the 34 home runs tied for second on the team with Jim Thome.
JD was a tough out and another fan favorite due in large part to his performance in the 2005 World Series.
He also played a great right field in 2008 committing only one error for a .996 fielding percentage.
After having a miserable 2011 season, Alex Rios has arguably been the White Sox MVP in 2012.
Rios is hitting .300 with 24 home runs and 87 RBI—the .300 average and 87 RBI are second on the team, and the 24 home runs is third. He also leads the team with 169 hits and 88 runs scored, and is second with 22 stolen bases.
He has hit the ball hard all year long and has played much better defensively than he did last year.
Like I said, this one is really tough, but in the end I would have to go with Jermaine Dye. As great as Rios has been, Dye just always seemed to get the job done.
Advantage: Jermaine Dye (2008)
Catcher (A.J. Pierzynski '08 vs. A.J. Pierzynksi '12)
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Like Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski has been a steady presence in the White Sox lineup for several years.
And like Konerko, he is one of only three players remaining from the 2005 World Series team.
In 2008, he had a pretty typical Pierzynski season offensively, hitting .281 with 13 home runs and 60 RBI. However, he did have one of his worst seasons defensively, committing nine errors and throwing out a career low 18 percent of attempted base stealers.
This year, Pierzynksi has probably had the best offensive season of his career as he has put up big power numbers.
He is hitting .282 with 26 home runs and 74 RBI—the 26 home runs is already a career high and he is four RBI short of passing his career high of 77 in that category.
Without his production this season, it's hard to say whether the White Sox would be in the position that they are.
A.J. has had his share of big hits for the Sox over the years, but in 2012 he has really stepped it up offensively, and so this one is an easy pick.
Advantage: A.J. Pierzynski (2012)
Designated Hitter (Jim Thome '08 vs. Adam Dunn '12)
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Jim Thome had a good year for the White Sox in 2008 despite hitting only .245, which is actually the worst he has hit in his career for an entire season.
However, he was still able to hit 34 home runs and drive in 90.
The 34 home runs tied for second on the team, and the 90 RBI was third. He was also tied for second on the team with 93 runs scored.
So obviously Thome was still very productive.
Like Alex Rios, Adam Dunn is enjoying a comeback season after failing miserably in 2011.
In his first season with the White Sox, Dunn hit only .159 with 11 home runs and 42 RBI, but he has had a complete turnaround in 2012.
He is currently hitting .210 with 39 home runs and 90 RBI, both of which lead the team.
In another close battle, the edge in this one goes to Adam Dunn simply because without his production this season, the White Sox would definitely not have a shot at the postseason.
Advantage: Adam Dunn (2012)
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The 2008 White Sox starting rotation had four guys with 12 or more wins, led by Gavin Floyd with 17, and three of those guys had an ERA of 3.84 or below, led by John Danks at 3.32.
In comparison, the 2012 staff currently has one guy with 12 or more wins—which is Chris Sale with 17—although Jake Peavy does have 11 wins, and Gavin Floyd has 10.
In addition, the 2012 staff has three guys with an ERA of 3.69 or below, which is led by Sale at 2.82.
So the starting pitching is very similar between the two teams.
In the bullpen, the 2008 White Sox were led by Bobby Jenks' 30 saves as well as his 2.63 ERA. They also got a great season from Matt Thornton who was 5-3 with a 2.67 ERA.
The 2012 bullpen is led by Addison Reed's 28 saves and Nate Jones' 2.52 ERA, although lefty Donnie Veal does have an 0.77 ERA in 20 appearances. They have also gotten a good season from Jesse Crain who is 2-3 with a 2.76 ERA.
Jenks was certainly the better closer as Reed has struggled at times in his rookie year, but the rest of the bullpen is probably stronger in 2012 than it was in 2008. They added Brett Myers and Veal to a bullpen that already included Jones, Matt Thornton and Crain, which makes them pretty tough.
Overall I would have to say that because of the bullpen strength the nod goes to the 2012 White Sox pitching staff.
Advantage: 2012 Pitching Staff