White Sox AL Central Outlook

Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field - credit City of Chicago_Chris McGuireAs we approach the midway point of the MLB season, the Chicago White Sox hopes are not as high as they once were. After a busy offseason where the team acquired a variety of big name players, this team is off to an even worse start than last year. One year ago at this point in the season, the Sox were 35-40 and two games better than their 33-42 mark right now. Heck, they are only one game better through 75 games than they were during the absismal 2013 season.

Yes, the squad that lost 99 games two years ago was only one game worse than this year’s team through 75 games.

So what does that mean? It means that if this year’s Sox are going to make a run at the playoffs, they will have to climb over a lot of teams. In fact, if they would somehow rally to win the AL Central, they would need to climb over every other team in the division as they currently sit in last place.

Here is an outlook of the rest of the division with the Sox chances of usurping each team.

1st place – Kansas City Royals (44-30)

Games ahead of Sox: 11.5

Chances the Sox can catch them: Slim to None

The Royals are a young team that is built to win now and for years to come. Their starting pitching might be suspect at this point, but does it matter? They have the best record in the American League and they have the best bullpen and the best defense in baseball. The Sox have been overmatched against this team in head-to-head matchups in recent years.

2nd place – Minnesota Twins (41-36)

Games ahead of Sox: 7

Chances the Sox can catch them: Slim

These Minnesota Twins remind me of the 2012 White Sox. They are a team that is playing over their heads because their new manager is getting the most out of his players. Robin Ventura did a great job with the Sox in his first season and he almost led an aging, overachieving roster to the playoffs. However, reality will probably set in sooner or later for the Twins. Their lineup does not feature many offensive threats. They will probably miss the postseason but still be better than the Sox.

3rd place – Detroit Tigers (39-37)

Games ahead of Sox: 5.5

Chances the Sox can catch them: Slim

It’s hard to imagine a team with this much talent only being two games over .500 at this point in the season. Sure, they did lose arguably the best pitcher in the game over the offseason when Max Scherzer signed with the Nationals; but doesn’t this roster still have loads of talent? They seem to have found a good closer in Joakim Soria, David Price is still there, and their lineup is scary good when healthy. So what is the problem? Nevertheless, there is rising tension in Detroit as this team has already endured an 8-game losing streak and could be starting to tune out manager Brad Ausmus. I see them hovering around the .500 mark for most of the season. Of course, the Sox are 9 games under that mark currently.

4th place – Cleveland Indians (35-41)

Games ahead of Sox: 1.5

Chances the Sox can catch them: Good

A lot of “experts” picked the Indians to win the AL Central this year, and I never understood why. Even with their overachieving roster they had last year, they still only came in 3rd place in the division. I suppose all of the experts thought that signing Brandon Moss over the winter would be enough to push them to the top. The Sox and Indians have been battling to stay out of last place for most of the season, and there is no reason to believe that those two teams wont be doing the same dance in the 2nd half.

5th place – Chicago White Sox (33-42)

I’ll admit, I was all in for this year’s Sox. I had them competing for an AL Central title and at the very least claiming a wild card spot. As the trade deadline approaches, management has to ask itself a question. This team has a lot of players who are in the primes of their – for the most part – successful careers. Should these underachieving veterans be allowed another chance to turn things around due to their track records, or should they start packing their bags now so the organization can begin moving forward from this disaster?