Last night, I was watching White Sox twitter sweat Alex Colome’s 8th save about as hard as I have watched them sweat any save. I get it, I want the White Sox to win every game too, but I couldn’t help but think, this game is meaningless. Well, let me re-phrase that, the White Sox will be playing meaningful baseball, but probably not till October, I think…..as we discussed on the FromThe108 Podcast, it is likely that the White Sox organization simply decided to punt on improving their World Series chances for 2020, by sitting pat at the trade deadline and focus on learning more about the roster and plan for future seasons. While I personally don’t like that line of thinking….
You see, the White Sox are holding a 5.5 game lead over the 9th place AL team, the Tigers (the up and coming, soon to be a big pain in our proverbially asses Tigers, right Chorizy?) and have absolutely crushed them head-to-head, meaning they would hold a tie breaker over them, making that a 6.5 game lead with 21 to go. And in the current 8 team playoff format, with no fans and a future bubble for rounds after the 1st, the hustle for seeding really doesn’t have the importance it once has had, so I kind of get it. I would’ve liked to see our White Sox improve the roster, but since it didn’t happen, I’m not going to dwell on it, I’m going to move on to just enjoying baseball for the next 3 weeks until the tournament starts, because there is no drama.
WAIT THOUGH, there has to be some teams that are better or worse match-ups for our White Sox in the first round, right? I mean, some parameters that would make our team more likely to see that playoff bubble in all it’s fucking glory. So I decided, I am going to take 5 categories and assign some point values and flush out who I think might be the BEST first round opponents for our White Sox.
Just two criteria to clarify, first, I am only going to choose from the 7 other teams likely to make the playoffs. No reason to worry about the Tigers (who the Sox destroy anyways) or the Orioles, who suck, because they have only a very small chance of making the field. Second, because the field is so tight, the White Sox are within percentage points of both 2nd and 7th place simultaneously, we’ll consider ALL playoff teams.
The point system is simple, best candidate in each category gets 5 pts, runner-up gets 3 pts and the bronze medal shall get 1 pt. Cumulative points rule. LFG!!
1 – Teams that pitch the most innings from the left side
The fact that the White Sox clobber LHP is pretty well known, we’ll ignore the fact that they have mostly faced bad lefties and when they have faced a really good lefty, like Josh Hader, well, they looked like they were facing a good lefty. Most lefties ain’t good tho’, or not that good, so I think this rule can work.
Okay, looks like TAMPA = 5pts, OAKLAND = 3 pts and NEW YORK = 1pt
2 – Teams that swing more liberally, ie, see less pitches per plate appearance
No secret here, this isn’t only a Cease problem, when Giolito struggles, it’s usually with the more patient teams….also, the middle of the White Sox bullpen is a scary place, not Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment scary, but just moderately unpleasant and the best way to get in there is hitter patience.
TORONTO = 5 pts, HOUSTON = 3 pts and MINNY = 1 pt
3 – Opposing pitchers flyball rate
The White Sox are the ultimate, “Ball go far, Team go far” squad and so if we can increase the likelihood that a team will pitch them to hit mas flyballs, well that’s just something we are going to have to LOVE!!!
NEW YORK = 5 pts, CLEVELAND = 3 pts and TORONTO = 1pt
4 – Opposing hitters ground ball rate
The White Sox have built and excellent infield defense, and it actually goes into the bench because Danny Mendick and Yolmer Sanchez are both quality gloves off the bench just in case. The best teams for the White Sox pitchers to face are the ones that beat the ball into the ground.
CLEVELAND = 5pts, TAMPA = 3 pts & NEW YORK = 1pt
5 – Opposing pitchers strike out percentage
It is no secret, the White Sox like to swing the bat, it’s a free swinging crew, save for Moncada and Grandal. If we can choose for a team that won’t strike them out as much, then these fellas can do the maximum amount of damage.
OAKLAND = 5pts, HOUSTON = 3 pts & TORONTO = 1pt
Here is the final tally…..
Using the 5 criteria that I selected, it appears like Tampa, Oakland and Cleveland are the best 1st round opponents for our White Sox, although it looks a little noisy as there is some tightness in the race and behind them. One thing looks certain, Minnesota is the worst 1st round match-up for our White Sox and the eye test both this year and in previous years seems to agree with that bearing out.
There are of course other criteria, hit me up on twitter, tell who you’d like to see the White Sox face in the 1st round and why?