Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Are the White Sox really out of it?

At SI.com Tom Verducci declares the White Sox out of it as of May 31st http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/tom_verducci/05/31/doomed.teams/index.html . He reaches this conclusion by noting the failure rate of teams who are more than 5 games under .500 and 5 or more games back at the end of May (96%).  The White Sox were 6 games under .500 and 8.5 back of the Indians in the AL Central.

This conclusion strikes me as overly quantitative.  For one, the division leader Indians are hardly the '27 Yankees.  They weren't thought to be contenders before the season started but have obviously gotten off to a fast start.  Second, this is the AL Central which is not to be confused with the AL East.  Third, "out of it" suggests not only the team won't make the playoffs but won't really contend.  If the White Sox are within a couple games of first in August or early September but fail to make the playoffs does this prove Verducci right?  I don't think so, except in a very technical sense.  As a baseball fan I actually don't mind my team missing the playoffs, but I want them to contend to the very last.  That is, keep me in the game.

In June, the Indians have gone 1 - 5, the White Sox 3 - 2 and the Tigers 4 - 1.  I actually think the Tigers will win the division (the White Sox were less than 5 games behind the Tigers as of May 31st) but that the White Sox will contend.  What's contend?  Be within 4 games in August, and within around 3 games at the start of September is being in contention.

My Twins on the other hand are really out of it.

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