Remembering the Last A.L. Central Winning Chicago White Sox
For the first time in 4,741, the Chicago White Sox can clinch the American League Central Division. The last White Sox division winner was 2008 thanks to the Blackout Game.
The Chicago White Sox have the opportunity to clinch the American League Central for the first time since 2008 today.
It has been a long 13-year journey of ups and (mostly) downs with, at times, no sense of direction. But, times have changed on the south side of Chicago and there looks to be a clear plan for the present and future finally. As the magic number dropped game by game, fans across social media have been reminiscing on previous playoff teams include the 2008 team.
Below, I look back at the last time the White Sox won the AL Central by looking at the players, trades, and games from 2008.
Injuries and Slow Starts
Paul Konerko injured his thumb and had a few other injuries throughout the season. He played just 122 games in 2008, which at the time was the fewest since joining the White Sox. He hit just .240 with 22 home runs and 62 RBI.
José Contreras missed the final seven weeks with a ruptured Achilles tendon. He originally went on the 15-day (then) DL (now IL) before being shut down for the season.
Joe Crede battled lingering back problems and only played 97 games.
Jim Thome hit just .245 for the season.
And Ozzie Guillen’s least favorite player Nick Swisher did not live up to what they thought they traded for back in the offseason. Swisher hit just .219 with a .332 on-base percentage while playing 153 games. Not good, so they shipped him out after the playoffs.
Alexei Ramírez signed as a free agent out of Cuba before the 2008 season. After hitting several grand slams, he quickly became a fan favorite and earned himself the nickname “Cuban Missile” after hitting several grand slams. He led MLB in grand slams with 4 in 2008. Over 136 games, he posted a .290 batting average, scoring 65 runs, hitting 21 homers, and driving in 77 runs
Following the 2007 season, the Sox traded minor leaguer Chris Carter to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Carlos Quentin during the offseason. It ended up being arguably the best pickup for the team. Before the 2008 season, he only played 138 games and was hitting just .230 during his career.
Heading into the final month of the season, Quentin was top-5 in several stat categories, but his season ended a month early.
In a game against the Cleveland Indians, a frustrated Quentin slammed his hand on his bat and ended up injuring his wrist. He broke his right wrist and would need season-ending surgery.
Quentin finished the 2008 season with a slash line of .288/.394/.571/.965 with 96 runs, 26 doubles, a triple, 36 home runs, and 100 RBI in 130 games.
Despite missing the final month of games, he went on to place fifth in AL MVP voting.
After a rough ending to his 2007 campaign, John Danks bounced back in 2008 and became a significant asset to the starting rotation. He went 12-9 through 33 starts with a 3.32 ERA over 195 innings. His 3.32 ERA was the fifth-best in the AL in 2008.
His 2-hit, scoreless, eight-inning performance in the Blackout Game is still being talked about today.
Ken Griffey Jr.
Baseball legend Ken Griffey Jr. was traded to the White Sox from the Cincinnati Reds for relief pitcher Nick Masset and minor leaguer 2nd baseman Danny Richar on July 31. He played 41 games and slashed .260/.347/.405/.751 with 16 runs, 10 doubles, three home runs, and 18 RBI. He’s best remembered by White Sox fans for his run-saving throw from center in the Blackout Game. More on that game, next.
After 162 games in 2008, the AL Central had no clear winner and a Game #163 was needed. So Sox fans filled the Cell in their black White Sox attire and watched John Danks pitched a gutsy, scoreless performance. Sox went on to win the game 1-0 and win the division for the third time in nine years.