Why the White Sox Will Win the World Series
The Chicago White Sox charged to a big lead in the American League Central and held off a late rally from the Cleveland Indians by defeating them three straight to end the season, at Jacobs Field.
There was plenty of talk of how the White Sox were limping to the finish line, having once led the division by 15 games as late as August. As the last week of the season approached, with the Indians charging, there was a lot of talk of how the Indians were still a good bet to win the division and go on to great things in the playoffs.
The White Sox stiffened against that criticism and won five of their last six games, and won the division six games and the American League’s best record by four games.
That didn’t keep many from looking at the offensive juggernaut Boston Red Sox as the favorites. The Red Sox had outscored the White Sox 910 to 741 over the course of the season. The White Sox were known as playing “Ozzie Guillen” style, with hit and runs and stolen bases and moving the runner up.
Manager Ozzie did say those things are important, but he benefited from the long ball. Every player in the White Sox lineup is a good threat to hit one out of the park, and in closely-matched games, that pop decides games most of the time.
The Astros don’t run better than the White Sox, they don’t field better than the White Sox and they don’t hot as well as the White Sox – for power or average.
So what does the Series come down to? Pitching.
The White Sox pitching staff was the best in the American League. It would rate as the best pitching staff in baseball by ERA+ (tied with the Cardinals – but in a DH league). Mark Buerhle, Jose Contreras, Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia make for a deep and strong rotation. The Astros have a strong rotation as well, but it doesn’t have the extra depth that the White Sox bring to the table.
Both teams have solid bullpens, although Brad Lidge gives the Astros an edge. However, the problem with Lidge as an advatage is that the Astros have to get ahead.
The power and strong “mistake hitting” of the White Sox will likely overcome the strong right-handed pitching of the Astros.
Game 1 will be difficult for the White Sox offense facing Roger Clemens, but the Astros will have as much difficulty, if not more from Jose Contreras. The Astros hitters have little to no experience against Contreras who is a master at varied deliveries, changing speeds and a devastating splitter. Facing a pitcher for the first time with the repertoire of Contreras will probably be too much for the Astros, and despite what is likely to be a strong performance from Clemens, against a team that doesn’t hit right handers very well, the Astros will come out on the short end.
The White Sox hit lefties well, and they are facing a pitcher they have some familiarity with in Pettitte. Again the Astros face a top tier pitcher whose stuff they have never faced. The combination of new pitching and the offense facing a lefty tips the balance to the White Sox in Game 2.
Once the White Sox get ahead, the Astros won’t be able to match the rotation depth, and the White Sox will hold off the Astros to win the Series. The Astros will be undone by inexperience with the pitching they face throughout the Series, and in a very evenly matched competition, that is all it takes.
In the end, the White Sox will win because, overall, they are the better team. They are strong defensively, with Aaron Rowand being one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game. They are average offensively, and they have some of the best pitching in the major leagues.
White Sox in 6.
Posted: October 22, 2005 at 08:12 PM | 16 comment(s)
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