May 28, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham (15) and first baseman Paul Konerko (14) high five each other after they beat the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Chicago White Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

There's A New Sheriff In The A.L. Central

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This past off-season, the Chicago White Sox front office’s schizophrenic approach to building it’s 2012 roster, led many to believe that the Sox would have some trouble competing in 2012. General Manager Kenny Williams was tasked with rebuilding an aging roster, a poor farm system, and dealing with several overpaid players who weren’t performing. It seemed that halfway through the process however, the overhaul kind of stopped, only really trading Carlos Quentin and Sergio Santos, and letting Mark Buehrle sign with the Miami Marlins. Guys like Gavin Floyd, John Danks, and Matt Thornton remained, suggesting that either the Sox didn’t find a deal they liked, or they realized they still had the makings of a pretty good roster.

If you really took a look at the White Sox, they still owned a quality pitching staff heading into the season. Plus if they got some bounce back seasons from Adam Dunn and Alexis Rios, they looked like the Tigers top contender to several of us here on Motor City Bengals.

After winning on Tuesday night, their 7th in a row, the White Sox have overtaken Cleveland for 1st place in the A.L. Central. With the Tigers still struggling to find their way offensively, it looks like the White Sox offense is beginning to find its stride. The Sox have scored 61 runs in the past 7 games, though the bulk of that work was done against the Minnesota and Cleveland pitching staffs, neither of which is known for being dominant. That being said, the White Sox put up 7 runs Tuesday night against a stingy Tampa pitching staff, winning 7-2 behind a strong pitching effort by Phillip Humber.

The offense has been led by Paul Konerko all season long. Konerko, who is one of the most underrated hitters in all of baseball consistently, is hitting .386 on the season. A couple keys to their resurgence this season is Adam Dunn hitting the long ball again (.959 OPS), and quality contributions from young guys like Dominic De Aza and Dayan Viciedo. If Gordon Beckham and Alexi Ramirez ever begin helping out with their bats, look out A.L. Central.

The pitching has been pretty good as well, despite ERA’s of over 5.00 for both John Danks and Gavin Floyd. Jake Peavy has looked like the guy the White Sox acquired in the first place from San Diego, and it looks like Chris Sale truly belongs in the rotation, especially coming off of a 16 strikeout performance on Monday night. The bullpen has been better than expected after the departure of Santos, and will probably get a little stronger as Addison Reed continues to get innings under his belt.

While the White Sox are performing well right now, I still firmly believe the Tigers stack up very well against them, and will eventually prevail, though a run away division title doesn’t look like it is going to happen. The White Sox, if they can stay relatively healthy, could be in this race for the long haul, and that’s a far cry from December when it looked they were ready to take apart the ship and start rebuilding it.

 

 

 

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Tags: A.L. Central Chicago White Sox Detroit Tigers

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