White Sox: Exercising their Demons

After 20 years, the White Sox are finally solving the Minnesota Twins.

The Chicago White Sox head into the second half of the 2021 MLB season with a record of 54-35 percentage points (#SoxMath) ahead of Boston and Houston for the best record in the American League. They also hold an eight-game lead over second-place Cleveland in the American League Central. 

This White Sox team has had a lot go right for them so far. Through devastating injuries and head-scratching managerial decisions, the talent has shone through and made the back-to-back Soxtober’s for the first time in franchise history a genuine possibility.

But, the biggest story of the first half to me is that they are 15 games up on the Minnesota Twins. The team that was favored to win the AL Central is sitting at 39-50, three games out of the basement in the division.

I don’t care about the hullabaloo about the White Sox only beating teams below .500. You play who you play, and the Twins were supposed to be good. They had a pretty well-regarded off-season, and after winning 101 games in 2019 and squeaking out the division in last season’s 60-game sprint, they were predicted to win the Central again by several publications.

This is a big deal.

For the last 20 years, the Twins have been a thorn in the White Sox side. The Pirananas of the early 2000s certainly devoured the Sox playoff chances year after year:

Since 2001, when the MLB implemented the current unbalanced schedule, the Sox record vs. Minnesota is 163-202. 39 games under .500

There were bright spots at that time. The 2005 World Champion White Sox were 11-7 against their rivals from the north. The 2008 team, while 9-10 vs. Minnesota in 162 games, had a 1-0 record in game 163 that sent them to the playoffs that season.

Including the expanded playoffs in Pandemic shortened 2020 season, the Sox have made the playoffs three times (two division titles, one Wild Card).

On the other hand, Minnesota has won seven division titles and has had nine total playoff appearances in the same time frame.

Some 20 years on, perhaps it’s time for the White Sox to start a dominant run of their own. They are certainly off to a great start:

2021 White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins

10-2 record — Outscoring them 91 to 47 giving them the old United Kingdom country code run differential of +44.

They are already guaranteed their first winning season against Minnesota since 2016. If the Sox can win five of the remaining seven games against the Twins, they would have their best in-season record against them since introducing the unbalanced schedule.

You win the division by beating your division. Does it matter that since its creation in 1994, the American League Central has been mostly terrible? Again, you can’t help what other teams are doing. You can’t help that geographically these teams share the same area of the United States and have been placed together.

A 2021 American League Central Division title won by the Chicago White Sox will have been won on the strength of beating your rivals. So if that means you “pad” your wins against a team that should have been good, that has beaten your brains in for 20 years, but just so happens to stink in ‘21, it will have been more than worth it.

Featured Photo: Armando L. Sanchez - Chicago Tribune

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