AL Central Standings
While the rest of the world watched an incredibly boring match of footy this afternoon, the Chicago White Sox dismantled the Kansas City Royals and moved into first place. They have been the hottest team in the big leagues for over a month now, winning 25 of their last 30 games, and 9 of the last 10.
We started calling this season Bizarro 2005 early on as it seemed every break went the other way and every one run game seemed to tally another loss. Now it seems 2010 more closely resembles the 1983 winnin' ugly White Sox as both versions of 'the Club' (premiering July 18th on MLB network) saw a big deficit early on erased in a mad dash for the post-season. If you told me a month ago that I would be writing about the White Sox and the playoffs in the same breath I never would have believed you. So what has gone right all of a sudden?
Short answer: Everything.
Here are some Chicago White Sox statistical highlights:
Brent Lillibridge is hitting .455 with a .478 OBP, with a .864 SLG.
Three Regulars are now slugging over .500: Konerko(.560! 8th best in the AL), Quentin(.523) and Rios(.518)
Dayan Viciedo has stepped right in to a big league role and excelled. His arrival coincided with the Sox hot streak, he is sporting a tidy .300 average and .500 SLG. Sure his defense has been pretty bad, but on days you need the leather a-flashing Ozzie can plug Omar Vizquel in over there.
Speaking of Omar, his on base percentage has gone up every month: .231 in April, .310 in May, .338 in June, and .350 so far for July. Not bad for an old man often batting second in the line up.
Juan Pierre is another guy doing his job that I pretty much doubted when the Sox went and got him. His defense in left field has been spectacular at times, and he is currently leading the American League with 32 stolen bases.
Paul Konerko started the season carrying the club and has continued to produce as everyone has come around. He is tied for 4th in the AL with 20 HR, and in 5th place with 63 RBI. He is an All-Star.
Alex Rios should be an All-Star. His defense in center-field has been stellar, he's batting .305 with 15 HR and 23 SB.
Q! Carlos Quentin has shaken off the kryptonite hangover and has looked every bit like his 2008 MVP caliber self.
Thats all pretty good, right? And I haven't even got to the pitching!
The pitching has been even better! The staff collectively didn't allow an extra base hit to the Angels for 20 innings.
Gavin Floyd only has 3 wins to show for it, but over the last month he has struck out 33 over 44.1 innings, with an ERA of 1.22 and a WHIP of .79 over that time.
In the same time span, Matt Thornton doesn't have an ERA (though he is responsible for one of Gavin's runs) and he picked up 7 holds, 3 saves and racked up 12 strikeouts over 10.2 IP.
Sergio Santos has only allowed 6 runs all season compiling 32 strikeouts over 28 innings of work.
Bobby Jenks has only blown one save all season, and that was back in May. Hopefully his wife is fully recovered from whatever it was that was ailing her.
John Danks has 12 quality starts including that complete game gem he pitched Thursday afternoon. He will get the first start against the Twins after the break.
I could list stats all day, but I need to mention that the rotation will go as follows when the Sox head up to Target Field next week: Danks, Floyd, Buehrle, Garcia and Hudson will be the new order. The 4 game trip to Minnesota after the break can't help but remind me of 2005. The situation was different of course, that season the Sox came out like gangbusters and ran away early, only to be slowly reeled in as the break approached, pretty much the opposite of this season (so maybe Bizarro 2005 still applies) and they had to go to Cleveland for four games. We were nervous about that series then, well I was anyway, but the Sox just went east and kicked their asses sweeping the series and making a nice lead in the standings. I would love to see that happen in Minnesota. Go up there and punish the team that is reeling. They may still be without Morneau, which would be huge.
Ah, shoot, I'm losing my direction with this post and its approaching hsa-ian length. The Sox are in first place, and I am feeling fine. Do they need to add another bat? It certainly wouldn't hurt. Will Jake Peavy be missed? Absolutely, but it isn't a deal breaker. The fact is the White Sox are in the thick of things in the AL Central. I feel like they can actually take the division for the first time since April. Its a great day to be a Sox fan, and it will be nice to watch the All-Star game and actually feel like another AL victory could potentially help our team.