Chicago White Sox fans shouldn’t overreact to their season-ending slump.
As the 2020 MLB regular season concludes, the Chicago White Sox are gearing up for their first playoff appearance since 2008.
It’s been a while since the Sox were relevant, having finished below .500 in their last seven seasons. In fact, the last time the White Sox reached the postseason, Barack Obama was still a Senator residing just four miles from then-named U.S. Cellular Field.
Now, twelve years later, the White Sox are in their first year of contention in what could be a decade-long dynasty on the South Side.
After losing two of three to the Chicago Cubs to end the season, the White Sox finished tied with the Cleveland Indians for second place in the American League Central, just a game behind the division champion Minnesota Twins. It was a brutal disappointment for a team that spent 25 days in first place.
Despite the collapse, White Sox fans should not be overreacting to their recent struggles.
Sure, they had a difficult road trip to Ohio and lost some games in excruciating fashion. But take away the four game sweep to the Indians and the Sox are still 12-6 and in first place in the AL Central heading into their season finale vs. the Cubs.
And despite losing two of three to the Cubs, the Sox still scored nine runs against veteran Jon Lester and nearly rallied from a 10-1 deficit on Sunday and scored 13 runs in two games.
These are two very good teams that the Sox struggled against. It’s not like they lost 3 of 4 to the god-awful Pirates like the Cubs just a week ago.
After the devastating loss to the Indians on Thursday, White Sox manager Rick Renteria began trending on Twitter with many calling for his head.
That’s a bit of a stretch for a manager who has led the White Sox to the playoffs for the first time in over a decade and is only in his fifth season as a big league manager.
This is a White Sox team that is going to have some slumps. They are an extremely young team led by a core of players that has zero playoff experience combined.
Regular starters Danny Mendick, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert have played for a total of less than eight seasons of games COMBINED, and yet the Sox remain second in the AL in batting average, OPS, and RBIs and led the AL in home runs.
Even an experienced team in a shortened 60-game season will still have some ups and downs, but it’s nothing to raise hell over after a four-game sweep and a loss in two games to your division champion rival across town.
There’s no doubt that the last ten games have been frustrating. And it’s a bit unsettling to see the Sox limping into the postseason.
Yet this could be the perfect time for the Sox to be struggling.
With any young team, there are kinks and slumps that need to be fought through. Though Renteria is not exactly a young pup, he’s in only his fifth season of managing and is in his first year of managing with a competent team.
Now is truly a better time than any to get the kinks out of the hose and address the problems from top to bottom.
Though the Sox are absolutely one of the best teams in baseball through 60 games, they may not have what it takes to win a World Series just because of their lack of postseason experience in most of their lineup.
Yes, they played at a very high level during the regular season. But October baseball is a completely different animal than what the kids have seen for their entire careers.
And Sox fans aren’t doing themselves any good by calling for their skipper’s head while they head into the playoffs fresh off their best regular season in 15 years. You can’t just throw out a fantastic season after three bad series.
One of Renteria’s biggest strengths and reasons that the White Sox hired him was his ability to develop young players.
If the Sox want to remain contenders for the future, it’s best to keep Renteria around so that he can continue to develop the young core of players. Firing Renteria in his first season of relevance would not make sense at all.
The Sox now have a day off before facing off against the Oakland Athletics in the AL Wild Card Series, and though it may be a travel day for the Sox, fans should take it as a mental health day to appreciate their successful season and upcoming October baseball as well as prepare themselves for the mental grind that comes with watching your team in the playoffs.
Just enjoy this, Sox fans. You have October baseball and a team that’s built to contend for quite possibly an entire decade with the proper development and roster moves.