The White Sox are coming off an 10-game stretch where they went 2-8 against American League Central foes. They are 9-9 against the AL Central this season, however, they’re 6-0 against the Twins and 3-9 against everyone else. To make matters worse, that 3-9 mark comes against only the Royals and Indians, as they’ve yet to play Detroit this season. (They will finally play each other this Friday).
During the White Sox current seven-year playoff drought, beating opposing AL Central teams has proven difficult. During that seven-year stretch, the White Sox only have a winning record within the division once — in 2012 when they went 37-35 against the ALC and finished 85-77. Even the one other year during that stretch where the White Sox finished with a winning record — 2010 —they went 32-40 against divisional foes. From 2009-15, the White Sox are 226-290 against AL Central teams, a .438 winning percentage, which is even worse than the team’s combined winning percentage over that same period of time — .479.
You probably don’t need me to tell you that beating your divisional opponents is key to winning your division — after all, the White Sox will play 76 contests against the AL Central this year, nearly half of their games — but the numbers back it up. Last season’s six division winners combined for a .572 winning percentage against their respective divisional opponents, with only the Texas Rangers posting a below-.500 record at 36-40. If you extend the parameters back five years, division winners have a .594 winning percentage against their divisional foes, with only the aforementioned Rangers and the 2013 Dodgers posting below-.500 records against teams in their division over an entire season.
Again, it’s not rocket science to determine that division winners, teams that most often win 90-plus games, also finish with winning records against the teams they play the most over the course of the season, but the fact that the White Sox are off to an inconspicuously poor start against divisional foes is a cause for concern, as they will still play the Royals, Indians and Tigers a combined 45 more times this season. (Granted, they also get the Twins 13 more times, which is a bonus).
All that said, how are the rest of the AL Central teams doing in divisional play thus far? Let’s take a look.
Kansas City Royals
Overall record: 27-22 (.551)
Record vs. AL Central: 13-5 (.722)
vs. White Sox: 5-1
vs. Indians: 1-2
vs. Tigers: 2-1
vs. Twins: 5-1
Overall record: 26-22 (.542)
Record vs. AL Central: 14-7 (.667)
vs. White Sox: 4-2
vs. Tigers: 6-0
vs. Royals: 2-1
vs. Twins: 2-4
Chicago White Sox
Overall record: 27-24 (.529)
Record vs. AL Central: 9-9 (.500)
vs. Indians: 2-4
vs. Royals: 1-5
vs. Tigers: 0-0
vs. Twins: 6-0
Overall record: 24-25 (.490)
Record vs. AL Central: 7-8 (.467)
vs. White Sox: 0-0
vs. Indians: 0-6
vs. Royals: 1-2
vs. Twins: 6-0
Overall record: 15-34 (.306)
Record vs. AL Central: 5-19 (.208)
vs. White Sox: 0-6
vs. Indians: 4-2
vs. Tigers: 0-6
vs. Royals: 1-5
While the number of games played within the division varies — Minnesota has played the most at 24 and Detroit has played the fewest at 15 — each teams’ respective winning percentages against divisional opponents actually falls right in line with their overall winning percentages to date. Granted, the sample size is still small, but it should come as no surprise given recent history that the top two teams in the division, Kansas City and Cleveland, have also fared the best thus far.
Inexplicably, the Twins are the only AL Central team the Indians have a losing record against thus far. It’s against Detroit that the Indians have done their damage, however, as not only have the Tigers been swept in both meetings, but Cleveland has outscored them 38-12 in those six games. Despite the 4-2 mark against Cleveland, Minnesota is somehow worse against the AL Central than they are against the rest of the teams they’ve played this year, as they’ve gone 10-15 against non-AL Central competition.
There’s a long way to go yet, but given the White Sox recent track record against AL Central opponents, the last week-plus has been far from promising. The month of June brings 15 more divisional games, and unfortunately for the White Sox, only three come against Minnesota.
Lead Photo Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports