Although sports have always had a vast level of intrigue given how competitive and unpredictable they are from year to year, it never ceases to amaze the invested sports fan how a team that was once supremely dominant can suddenly become a remarkable disaster within a single year.
For the Chicago White Sox, a team that was once resilient and athletically relentless in 2005 when they swept the Houston Astros to win the World Series, their reign of success was a teasing mirage that lasted just a single year. While the White Sox haven’t regressed to the levels of ineptitude that the Houston Astros have in recent years, their underwhelming competitive output each year has been disheartening for White Sox fans that want to relive that nostalgic moment of jubilation and pride.
Despite the White Sox adequate start to the season, their overall numbers are indicative of an offensive powerhouse that could win the AL Central for the first time since 2008. While this lofty goal may seem out of reach for a White Sox team that has to catch a well balanced Detroit Tigers franchise, their sheer perseverance and inspiring aspirations for greatness may just propel this team to the post season and beyond. Even with the White Sox pitching discrepancies, their confident and reliable hitters have given this team new life where they once would have failed miserably.
By far, the White Sox most prized offensive treasure is none other than first baseman Jose Abreu. Although fellow Cuban countryman Yasiel Puig has gotten the lion’s share of the limelight because of his instinctual hitting prowess and off the field antics, Abreu has the advantage of being both professionally poised while being able to hit the ball with immense power. While his batting average of .266 may pale in comparison to that of Puig’s illustrious average of .310, his scoring capabilities are far more impressive. Thus far Abreu has already hit 12 home runs (Puig has only hit four homers) and has batted an incredibly sound 35 RBI’s in his first year in the majors (Puig has only hit 22 RBI’s this year). Although Puig may get more base hits than Abreu, Abreu brings a level of controlled power and scoring efficiency that Puig simply can’t match on a regular basis.
Aside from the emergence of the young Cuban Abreu, the White Sox have several veterans to help lead, like Alexei Ramirez and Adam Dunn who are both capable of scoring big when their team needs it the most. When it comes to Alexei Ramirez, not only has he posted a much-improved batting average of .321 (his batting average was .281 last season), but his developed plate discipline has been the most noticeable improvement for this matured shortstop (OBP of .352, career high). On top of that, Ramirez has a strong swing despite his size and has already knocked in 21 RBI’s on the season, which puts him on pace to knock in 97 RBI’s for the entire season which would be a career high.
Although designated hitter Adam Dunn may not be as explosive as he was back when he played for the Cincinnati Reds, he still has enough power (slugging percentage of .495) and patients (OBP of .405, hasn’t been above .400 since 2008) to make him a worthwhile contributor when he steps up to the plate. Since he joined the White Sox in 2011, Dunn’s batting average has improved dramatically from an abysmal .159 in 2011 to a respectable .269 this year. While it may be hard to predict how efficient Dunn will be throughout the duration of the regular season, it appears that the White Sox unwavering commitment to this veteran hitter are finally starting to pay off as his confidence and versatile abilities have only gotten stronger with each subsequent year he plays in the majors.
In the end, the White Sox have the allure and unwavering tenacity of a team that wants to score first and ask questions later. Although their unreliable bullpen may hamper this teams initial outlook of making the postseason, their proficient offense could allow this ball club the opportunity to hone in on their weaknesses and buy some time to fix the other areas of need.
They may not be perfect, but the Chicago White Sox have the gusto and genuine talent of a team that could easily transform into the Cinderella story of the MLB.