Although the end was in sight for almost a week, the Chicago White Sox’ playoff hopes sadly came to a complete end Monday night. Despite beating the Indians 11-0, Detroit’s victory over the Royals clinched their division title and closed the door on any remaining playoff chances for the Southsiders.
The Sox closed out the tumultuous season 85-77. Going into this season, if any baseball analyst was asked if the Sox were going to be above .500 in October, the answer would have been a resounding “absolutely not.” However, not only were the White Sox above .500, but were in the playoff push until the last week. This might seem like a good thing considering they exceeded expectations, but given the nature of the season, not being in the playoffs is definitely a disappointment.
The Sox held the top spot in the AL Central for 117 days this season and were poised to win the division. All they had to do was finish out strong. With only two weeks to go, the Sox held a tentative three-game lead on the second-place Tigers. And then, in a catastrophic collapse, they closed out September 2-10. This final stretch saw them lose their lead and take on a three-game deficit of their own.
So what went wrong? Did the offense simply shut down? Did the starters give up too many runs? Could the bullpen not close out games? It’d be much simpler if there was one explanation, but the answer is all of the above. During their collapse, the Sox bats averaged under three runs a game while the pitching allowed almost five runs per game. Regardless of the cause, it doesn’t do any good now to point fingers or think about what could have been. The only thing to do is to take solace in the fact that the White Sox crushed all the negative expectations and witnessed multiple comeback seasons.
After having one of the worst seasons in Major League history, Adam Dunn rebounded with 41 home runs and 96 RBIs. Alex Rios followed suit and answered one of his worst seasons in 2011 with one of his best: a .304 BA with 91 RBIs. On the defensive side of things, Jake Peavy experienced a comeback of his own after his 2011 season was full of injuries and setbacks. Despite going 11-12 this year, Peavy put together a 3.37 ERA and pitched a total of 219 innings. The biggest positive surprise to come out of this season is arguably Chris Sale. This first-year starter went 17-8 and was a Cy Young candidate until the final few weeks of the season.
All that being said, while the mature thing to do in these types of situations is to look on the bright side, it may be too early for that. Sox fans were being cautiously optimistic and given the result, that caution was warranted. Now we’ll be on our couches watching other teams play in a postseason that could have easily included the Sox. Not to sound like a Cubs fan, but I suppose there’s always next year…