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White Sox watch another team dig a hole

2015 showed the hazards of an awful start, and now it's the Twins' turn to be a cautionary tale

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Last year, the White Sox immediately doused enthusiasm generated from the exciting offseason by getting swept in Kansas City, then pooping the bed in the home opener against Minnesota.

You shouldn't want to run the parallel much further when it came to the White Sox spoiling Minnesota's home opener this year, because the Sox ended up winning that series. However, that opener did cast the die when it came to their AL Central fortunes -- they fell four games behind with that 0-4 start, and they never drew closer, even on the one day in May when they had a winning record.

The Twins find themselves in a similar situation after Monday's loss. Their 0-7 start is the worst since the 2010 Houston Astros, and now they're five back of the White Sox. That alone isn't insurmountable, because they started 1-6 last year to validate the last-place projections, only to reel off a bonkers 20-7 May. A surprisingly soft Central kept them in the postseason hunt far longer than anybody expected, and I don't think the Central has a 95-win team in it this year.

This time, though, expectations are the Twins' cross to bear, and their local media is singing a similarly sour tune, what with their attendance-shaming and bemoaning of strikeouts. It's an especially abrupt turn since the Twins looked like a well-oiled machine in spring training, which even the White Sox couldn't say in 2015.

The numbers also back it up to a certain extent. FanGraphs projected the Twins to have a 14.6 percent chance of making the postseason to open the year. Now it's already down to 5.5 percent. You can quibble with the specific percentages, especially since the division features two other counterintuitive figures:

But the relative size of the drop has some meaning, as it reflects the realities of falling into a hole to start the season for a team that wasn't especially projectable. History isn't on their side:

No team has ever lost the first seven games of a season and made the playoffs. Three teams -- the 1974 Pirates, 1995 Reds and 2011 Rays -- started out 0-6 and made the postseason, but they all won their seventh game of the season.

And what happened to those teams that lost that seventh game?

In fact, the Twins are the 11th team in AL history to drop their first seven games, and not only did none of the previous 10 reach the postseason, none of them even recovered to post a winning record. The 74-win Tigers of 2008 are the most successful of the 0-7 clubs, who averaged 60 wins.

The White Sox weren't able to shake off the effects of an early hit last year, and they've done a nice job of avoiding that pitfall this time around. The offense is nondescript -- wait, come back, that's actually a compliment now! They're middle-of-the-pack in everything except power numbers, but given the parks and weather they've encountered over the first week, it's not necessarily a surprise to see them lag a little in extra-base hits.

Austin Jackson serves as the embodiment of the White Sox' early results. He's hitting just .273/.304/.318, but it feels like he's doing more. On Saturday, he lost two extra-base hits to the cold wind before "settling" for a single that ended up starting the game-winning rally. Likewise on Monday, he missed a grand slam by a matter of inches with two outs, but recovered from the crushing disappointment by knocking a two-run single through the middle.

In the process, the Sox beat Kyle Gibson for the first time. He entered the afternoon 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA over six starts, over which he issued just six walks and averaged seven innings an outing. This time, he walked three batters without making it out of the sixth.

None of this stuff is particularly remarkable, but with White Sox pitchers reeling off six good starts in seven tries, all the offense needs to do is blend in with the rest of the league, especially with the temperatures being uncooperative. It has the potential for more, but at least they've passed off the mantle of being less than the sum of their parts to some other unfortunate mopes.