With a win over the Kansas City Royals last night, the White Sox are now on a four game winning streak, a tie for the team's longest winning streak of the season. And I think we all know why. Since August 8th, the White Sox have a .583 winning percentage. On the season the Detroit Tigers' winning percentage is .584. That's right, since the second week of August the White Sox have become the 2013 Detroit Tigers. And all for one reason.
They got rid of Alex Rios.
That stretch includes taking three of four from the Twins in Minnesota and two of three from the Tigers. The team has rediscovered The Will To Win. The new right fielder, Avisail Garcia, is batting .341 with an .850 OPS. Over that same stretch, the Texas Rangers have only managed to win seven of ten games against such lowly teams as the Houston Astros, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Seattle Mariners. Why didn't they have a Dodgerian 10-0 stretch? Because of Alex Rios.
Look at that awful defense in the above picture. Look at it! That's not how you win a pennant. Some people figured the change in scenery would do Rios good. Getting to play on a contender that's all but guaranteed a playoff spot this season would rejuvenate the lackadaisical right fielder since he'd finally be playing in the postseason. Notice how I said some people. Smart folks like us knew it wouldn't matter. Some players just don't care about baseball. They're solely motivated by paychecks and Randian fantasies. Rios' .627 OPS since joining one of the American League's best teams is incontrovertible proof of this fact. If he gave a damn about winning or his teammates, he'd hit better. But he doesn't, so he won't.
"But what about his .250 BABIP over the past seven days?" people that never played baseball at a higher level than right fielder in tee ball cry out from their mom's basements. Maybe if he ever ran out grounders it would be higher, did you ever think of that? No, you didn't. Because you don't know what being part of a team is about. I've never met Avisail Garcia, but I think it's pretty obvious to say that he brought some of that winning Jim Leyland mojo over from the Tigers with him. It's not important that he only played 53 total games with Detroit's major league club. He just absorbed so much about winning from being around successful veterans with postseason triumphs like Prince Fielder, Torii Hunter, and Victor Martinez. What did Alex Rios bring to the clubhouse? Dissent and disrespect learned from guys like Carlos Delgado and an ability to forget how to hit after landing a mega-contract like former outfield companion Vernon Wells.
The White Sox are turning things around and it's obvious how. Alex Rios never played on a real contender and the White Sox would never be one without getting rid of that kind of baggage. Now if they can just shed Adam Dunn and his 13 years without a single playoff game they might just find their way back into the ALDS. Addition by subtraction. It just works.