The White Sox are currently in first place in their division and are three games above the second place Indians. Going into the All Star Break, the White Sox have a great chance to get into the playoffs. This would be their first appearance in the playoffs since they won the division in 2008 by taking the Twins past the final game of the season. They beat the Twins in a one game playoff by a score of 1-0. The White Sox hope to make the division title a little less stressful this year, but one question bothering Sox fans is whether the team is actually really good or if the division is just bad.
If the White Sox just win the division because the division is bad, they probably won’t do anything when they get to the playoffs. The AL Central winner hasn’t gotten past the first round of the playoffs since the 2007 Indians lost in the American League Championship Series. White Sox fans would not want that trend to continue if the White Sox did make it to the playoffs this year.
Only three teams in the American League have a record below .500 right now. Two of those teams are in the AL Central. During a couple points in the year, the team in last place in the AL East actually had the same record as the leader of the AL Central. That doesn’t say much about the strength of the central division. But maybe team records in each of the divisions doesn’t tell the whole story and maybe there’s more to the White Sox being better or worse than the best teams in the American League.
The White Sox are 9-10 against American League East opponents this year. Against the only two teams in the American League that have a better record than the White Sox, the Rangers and Yankees, they are 6-4. The White Sox are tied for the fourth best team in Major League Baseball. They may be the worst division leader in the American League, but they have a good record against those other division leaders.
The AL Central division is stronger than it was earlier in the season and is stronger than it has been the past couple years. As the division has gotten better this year, the White Sox have also gotten better.
To answer the original question on whether the division is bad or the White Sox are good, I think the answer is that both are true. The division isn’t great and isn’t close to being the best out there. It’s the worst division in the American League, but that doesn’t mean the White Sox are a bad team because they lead that division. The White Sox are a good team with a good chance to get past the first round of the playoffs even if their division is bad.