It should go without saying that if you want to win, or even compete within your division, you need to beat your division opponents. Sure you can break even against the division and beat up on the other teams in your league and do well in interleague play, but beating your division rivals is really the key to being a factor in the race.
This is something the White Sox have failed at over the last several years. And they have failed miserably.
Let’s take a look at how the Sox have fared against the rest of the American League Central since Robin Ventura took over as manager in 2012.
Here are the records by season:
2012: 37-35 (.514)
2013: 26-50 (.342)
2014: 33-43 (.434)
2015: 32-44 (.421)
2016 (thru Tuesday): 12-19 (.387)
Total: 140-191 (.423)
The White Sox only winning season against their division under Ventura came in his first season as manager, where the Sox finished two games over the .500 mark versus the Central and lost the division by three games to Detroit.
That year the Sox beat up on the Indians (11-7) and the Twins (14-4) while going 6-12 against the Royals and Tigers.
Since 2012 it has been an embarrassing show by the Sox against the Central with a record of 103-156 for a .398 winning percentage. That’s right, the White Sox have lost more than 60% of their games against the division in the last four years.
In fact the Sox have won only ONE season series from a division opponent since 2012. That was last year when they eked out a 10-9 series win against the Tribe.
This year, half of the Sox division wins have come against the Twins, who currently own the worst record in baseball. After Tuesday’s loss, the Sox are 5-18 in their last 23 games against the AL Central.
Some of this can be chalked up to two really bad seasons where the Sox lost 99 and 89 games. When you are that bad, obviously you are going to have a rotten record against the teams you play most often. But the problem is they haven’t been any better in the last year and a half, when they thought they had a team that could compete.
Take this year for example. The Sox are seven games under against the AL Central, but six games over against the rest of their opponents. They have season series wins against Boston, Toronto, and Texas. They’ve won road series against the Mets and A’s. While they haven’t played great against everyone else, the overall problem seems fairly obvious.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the problem is with the Sox issues with the division. The more you play a team the tougher it is because they know your tendencies, have gotten a look at your pitching staff, and know how to work your hitters. However this seems to be working only one way for the Sox, and that is against them.
Certainly the players on the field are the ones that are playing the games and need to be held accountable, but this is over a four-plus year span with a lot of turnover in personnel. Even the last three years have seen a lot of change in every day players, and yet the result remains the same.
Sure, some pitchers are going to have a certain team’s number. But it feels like most of the pitchers in the Central have the Sox number, regardless of how good they are and who they play for.
At some point you need to start looking to the coaching staff and the scouting departments. Somewhere along the line, the other teams have figured out what the Sox are doing, and the Sox have been unable, or unwilling to adjust.
The Sox seem to be at a constant disadvantage against their division foes, no matter if they are playing at home or away. That has to change if the Sox are going to be a factor in the AL Central this year, or in the future.