About a month ago, a certain local columnist opined that the Sox best record in baseball was simply the product of them playing poor competition. He cited them having played only one over-.500 team to that point as the main basis for his thesis. He neglected to acknowledge that the main reason those teams had sub-.500 records was the White Sox kept kicking their collective butts. After a month of getting to play teams other than the White Sox, things are looking much different.
Here were are, a full 2 plus months into the season, and the Sox still own the best record in baseball. Sure they just came off a series with the hapless Rockies, but they did exactly what good teams should do to cellar dwellers; sweep them convincingly. According to ESPN's RPI, the Sox are ranked 9th in major league baseball in Strength of Schedule.
Looking at the competition the Sox have faced from a different angle, Baseball Prospectus brings us a couple of tools; Pitcher's Quality of Batters Faced and Batter's Quality of Pitchers Faced. These stats are pretty much exactly as they sound. For the pitchers, it's the collective line posted by all of the batters who they have faced. For the hitters, it's the collective line allowed by all of the pitchers they have faced. Simple really.
As a team, the Sox pitchers have faced below average offenses, but the Sox hitters have faced above average pitchers.
On the pitching side, Jon Garland has faced the toughest competition of the regular starters, though it is pretty much league average competition. Meanwhile Shingo Takatsu is facing some stiff competition. Though I would have to think will all of the HRs he's allowed, he has to have something to do with the .437 slugging percentage of the batters he has faced. Brandon McCarthy also faced a virtual all-star line up in his two starts, but you probably knew that already.
For the hitters, things are pretty consistent across the board. A.J. Pierzynski has faced the toughest pitchers of any of the regulars. While Willie Harris has faced the toughest group overall. He probably sees only tough right handed pitchers for the most part.