White Sox Handle Good Teams, Struggle Massively vs. the Bad Ones

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The Boston Red Sox were everyone’s preseason champions, and up until the last few days, one of the hottest teams in major league baseball. It was the 27-31 Chicago White Sox who cooled them off, sweeping the BoSox in Fenway. This makes it seven in a row white over red. Chicago is starting to own Boston in the same manner the Minnesota Twins own them.

Or how the New York Yankees own the Twins in the postseason. The White Sox season has now been upgraded from nightmarish train wreck to mediocre with some rays of hope. They’ve passed up the Kansas City Royals for third place in the AL Central, and are currently within striking distance of reaching .500 and catching the second place Detroit Tigers.

But one number sums up their season more than any other.

By Paul M. Banks

Against teams that are .500 or above, the Sox are  18-12.

Below .500 squads, the record is just  9-19.

What gives? It’s the proverbial “playing to the level your competition” cliche.

Maybe it’s the fact that a lot of these bad teams are filled with young pitchers that no one has any tape on, and the Sox consequently struggle against them? Do the home/road splits make a difference? And will that even itself out and eradicate the statistical anomaly.

An even more telling statistic is the Sox 10-13 at home record (just terrible, yes I know) versus 17-18 on the road. That will have to change now as the Sox have the next 16/22 at home. And between now and the All-Star break they’ll only be outside Chicago for nine days. And they’re certainly due- as the Sox have had more road games than any team in baseball up to this point.

But the best nugget of hope is not in their home/road or over/under .500 splits, but instead in the fact that Adam Dunn and Alex Rios are still not producing anything yet and the Sox aren’t dead. Yes, the White Sox still need to make up 8.5 on the Cleveland Indians, but Rios and Dunn are just too good and too consistent over their career histories to stay this bad for so long. Both of them may end up having a severely down year, but their numbers can’t and won’t stay this down. There will be a natural regression to the mean, and when it comes, the Sox will get a nice boost in their record when the high-priced duo finally pick it up.

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