When asked about the most dominating run of starting pitching in Chicago White Sox history, most undoubtedly cite that extraordinary stretch of slinging the Pale Hose slung at the Los Angeles Angels of North-Central Orange County in 2005.
Four straight complete games, to close out an ALCS? Yikes.
But the White Sox’s hiring of Dave Duncan as a pitching consultant on Thursday brings to mind an even more dominant starting rotation: In 1983, the White Sox may have won ugly, but man, did they win a lot.
The 1983 season was Duncan’s first year as White Sox pitching coach (his third of five major league stops that comprised 32 seasons and, according to a White Sox statement, was the longest pitching coach tenure in baseball history). He could not have made more of an auspicious debut in Chicago.
His starting rotation consisted of LaMarr Hoyt, Richard Dotson, Floyd Bannister, Britt Burns and Jerry Koosman. The heavy lifting came from the first three, as Burns was pitching so poorly by the end of July that he began August working out of the pen, and Koosman was solid in the first half, but made only 24 starts on the year.
In August, September and October, the White Sox lost just 15 games, going 46-15, a .754 winning percentage. Their miraculous run to a division title started after an 11-inning, 12-6 loss to the New York Yankees at Comiskey Park on July 31.
The club stood at 53-48, three games up in the AL West. From there, it was a finishing kick for the ages.
The White Sox would add 17 games to their lead in two months, finishing 20 games ahead of the second place Kansas City Royals. And it was Duncan’s workhorses—Hoyt, Dotson and Bannister—who delivered the crown.
Hoyt would win the 1983 Cy Young Award, mostly due to his outrageous workload and counting numbers (260 2⁄3 innings pitched, 11 complete games, 24 wins). Through July 31, he logged a 4.30 ERA and averaged a 52 game score (GS), but spun a 2.63 ERA and a 63 GS the rest of the way. Oh yeah: Hoyt didn’t lose a single game after July 31, going 12-0.
Dotson showed almost identical growth as Hoyt after July 31, and in any other season might have been a Cy Young shoo-in, finishing 22-7 with a 3.23 ERA. Through July 31, Dotson was 11-6, with a 4.06 ERA and a dead-average GS of 50. After that, Dotson went 11-1, with a 2.06 ERA and 62 GS. If not for a 2-1, complete game loss vs. the Texas Rangers, Dotson would have gone undefeated in the second half, like Hoyt.
The top southpaw on the staff, Bannister, would finish 1983 at 16-10, with a 3.35 ERA. But Bannister had the worst luck of the trio early on, going just 7-9 before August despite a decent enough 3.95 ERA and 51 GS. After July 31, Bannister went 9-1 with a 2.54 ERA and 64 GS. Like Dotson, Bannister was just one hard-luck loss from going undefeated in the stretch, losing 3-1 to the Boston Red Sox despite giving up just four hits over seven innings.
The hard-luck loser of Game 4 of the ALCS, Burns, scuffled in the first half, going 5-6 with a 4.29 ERA and 49 GS. After returning to the rotation a few games into August, Burns hurled superbly, with a star-crossed 5-5 record despite a 2.72 ERA and 60 GS. Overall for the season, Burns went 10-11, with a 3.58 ERA.
Even including the 8-10 record of Burns and Koosman at the back end of the rotation, White Sox starters went 40-12 after July 31. The three workhorses, Hoyt, Dotson and Bannister? Oh, they just spun off a 32-2 record after July 31.
Nothing can match four straight, complete-game masterpieces en route to a World Series berth. But for breadth of accomplishment, Duncan’s 1983 hurlers amassed numbers that will never be seen on the South Side again.
DulcetTones invented a dance, The Soxer, as a pregame ritual for good luck. She feels it was responsible for team’s 2005 World Series win.