Monday, November 07, 2005

« '05 Recap: White Sox »

By Suss
The Chicago White Sox
Manager: Ozzie Guillen (2nd year)
2005: 99-63; 1st place, AL Central
World Series Champions
—1st half: 57-29
—2nd half: 42-34
2004: 83-79; 2nd place

Leaders (hitting)
Batting Avg: Craig Monroe (.290)
Home Runs: Paul Konerko (40)
RBI: Konerko (100)
On-base pct: Konerko (.375)
Stolen bases: Podsednik (59)

Leaders (pitching)
ERA: Mark Buehrle (3.12)
Wins: Jon Garland (18)
Strikeouts: Jose Contreras (154)
Holds: Cliff Politte (23)
Saves: Dustin Hermanson (34)

Free agents:
1B Paul Konerko
DH Carl Everett
DH Frank Thomas (bought out)
C Raul Casanova
C Chris Widger
3B Geoff Blum

► The White Sox were never below first place all year -- their first wire-to-wire division title.

► Freddy Garcia and Jose Contreras each had 20 wild pitches, each breaking the franchise record for wild pitches in a season. You have to go all the way back to 1887 the last time two teammates had at least 20 wild pitches in the same season -- the '87 Chicago White Stockings (who are now the Cubs for some reason) featured the legendary Mark Baldwin and John Clarkson throw 41 and 25 wild ones, respectively.

► Frank Thomas threw more pitches in the playoffs than he had plate appearances. Yes, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch in Game 1 of the ALCS.
Back in March, you all knew the White Sox were a shoe-in to win the World Series, right?

... Right?

You knew that the White Sox would sweep the defending champ Red Sox, tear through the Los Angeles Angels and cap it off by claiming a Mortal Kombatesque flawless victory versus the Astros. Right?

Of course you did.

And, even when they pulled out to a 15-game lead in August and the Indians became the first team to close such a commanding lead that late into the season to a 1 1/2 game-margin, you knew the White Sox would eventually pull away and win it all. You knew that, right?

Did you?

Did you also figure that Shingo "Mr. Zero" Takatsu, the toast of their bullpen last year, would be eventually replaced by journeyman starter Dustin Hermanson for the closer's role, then by 24-year old Double-A prospect Bobby Jenks in the playoffs? I bet you knew that too.

And you knew it was doable despite a league third-worst .262 batting average and fourth-worst .322 on-base percentage.

And it was common knowledge that the big deal of the season would be a deadline deal for Padres' utilityman Geoff Blum, who would wind up smashing a game-winning homerun in Game 3 of the World Series.

Why am I telling you all this? You knew it all along.

Imagine if you didn't know any of this coming into the year. You might be kind of surprised.

You might think that the White Sox was proof that parity is somewhat of a metaproperty of baseball, regardless of economics and markets. You may think that this victory, which broke an 85-year championship dry spell, indicates that the 2000s is a decade of bout-damn-times, as the D-Backs, Angels, Red Sox and White Sox all won their first franchise ring or first one in a while.

But you don't think that, because the White Sox were everyone's pick for the Fall Classic.

Wait ... they weren't?!?

None of's 19 "experts" had them even in the World Series, let alone winning it?

Only one of them - Rob Neyer - had them even making the playoffs?

Wow, that's surprising.