What the Past Might Tell us about the 2022 White Sox Chances

Over the last few weeks, me and the fellas have been getting deeper into the #108WeightLoss challenge. MySoxSummer and I even have a twice per week standing walking date. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, we get together and walk and talk shit about all kinds of things. Tuesdays are usually just a neighborhood stroll. Thursdays we do some hill work at Palmisano Park on 29th and Halsted in Bridgeport.

Among our walking and talking, or generally anytime I broach certain subjects with my friend, he’ll utter the phrase “You (or They) got too cocky”. A direct reference to allowing ego to overshoot effort in a particular situation. Fast forward to the middle of last night, when my Chicken Parm sandwich from Roots in the South Loop was sitting too heavy in my stomach, I got that thought in my head.



What can history tell us about the 2022 White Sox Chances?

I’m so glad I asked me. I took a walk through recent history and catalogued all of the division winners since 1978 that beat the competition by at least 13 games during the regular season, which our beloved did this past season.

I always choose 1978 because that’s the year I was born, so it’s easy to remember to go back to that demarcation line. Also it provides enough data to be dangerous. However in the table below, you’ll note that I do mark off a different year as being of consequence, which we will get into.

Below is the data aforementioned, every division winner of 13 games or more dating back to 1978, with how they finished that season, what they did the following year and the like…..behold.

BaseballReference.com was used to source the information in the table above

That’s 31 times in 44 seasons, which seems like a lot. Maybe it’s not though, because as most of you readers of age would know, starting with the 1994 season MLB switched from 4 total divisions to 6. Increasing the likelihood of higher variance results. We also got the wild card starting in 1995. Those changes are why I bifurcated the list by shading it in gray starting with that season. So what can we learn from the list??

From 1995 these teams were repeat division winners 63% of the time

That’s right, 15 of the 24 teams listed from 1995 on, won their division again the following season. A whopping 63%, which bodes well for our White Sox heading into 2022. A combination of these teams being goddamn juggernauts of their time and the watered down nature of stretching 30 teams into 6 divisions appears to lead to these lopsided results.

What’s wild is that the 2000 Cleveland Baseball Team still won 90 games, despite not winning their division, the 2002 Mariners won 93 games. Winning your division by a substantial margin is a harbinger of good things in general for your squad. DUH!

Your chances of winning the World Series are about what you’d expect

You hear it all the time, THE PLAYOFFS ARE A CRAPSHOOT!!! I don’t like to be that dismissive of the playoffs, but they are materially a few rounds of coinflips, you rarely see a team at the Division Series level with an implied probability of winning the series of let’s say 65% or -185. It happens sometimes, but the teams generally float around 50 / 50 in the betting markets. Using that thought process, you’d expect the 24 teams since 1995 to win 3 rounds approximately 12.5% of the time (50% x 50% x 50%) or 3 times total out of 24. This group actually won the World Series 4 times, or 17% of the time (4 out of 24).

Similarly, you’d expect World Series appearances to be at approximately 25% of the time (50% x 50%), or 6 times out of 24, this group actually made it 7 times, or 30% of the time. Again, not a statistically significant difference from the norm. So, get in and run good, just like the Atlanta Braves.

What Can We Learn from the Teams that Didn’t Make It?

We all know about the 1984 White Sox, they had basically everything fall apart, a league leading offense the prior year fall to below average. Cy Young award winner LaMarr Hoyt becoming a below average starting pitcher. Shit hit the fan, but what about the others that fell off big-time?

The 1985 Detroit Tigers were still damn good, they just ran into the juggernauts that were the Blue Jays and Yankees in their own division. Oh and Willie Hernandez stopped being so invincible.

The 2000 Arizona Diamondbacks just shat themselves on offense, going from a slightly above average offense to well below league average, led by a bench that contributed nothing and starting too many of the Tony Womack’s and Jay Bell’s of the world. But in reality, it was mostly bad luck as they ran it back in 2001 and won the whole damn thing.

The 2002 Seattle Mariners won 93 games, they just ran into a got-damned buzz saw with the A’s winning 103 and taking the division crown and the Angels winning 99, whatta division!!

The 2012 Philadelphia Phillies had a bunch of aging stars all collapse in unisons. Looking at their B-Ref pages side by side, and seeing the difference in statistical performance from Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Roy Halladay, just to name a few. Age is undefeated.

What did we learn?

No, not that! What I think I learned is that the White Sox are in a great position right damn now. I guess I kinda already knew that given the position the other 4 teams in the division are in, but it was nice to gaze back into history a bit and see that teams that perform like this are generally on a path for success for some time. The White Sox core is in place, it’s just filling in around the core that will make the difference between several playoff appearances in a row, or being a casualty of this list.


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