Chicago White Sox, Baseball’s Hottest Team, Goes To New York For Weekend Series With Yankees

The Chicago White Sox are one of baseball’s biggest surprises. At 23-12, they are remarkably improved from last year’s 76-86 fourth place finish. They currently have a comfortable five-game lead in the American League Central Division over the Cleveland Indians, and a six-and-a-half game lead over the defending World Champion Kansas City Royals.

Chicago will seek to improve their runaway start this weekend, as they take on the New York Yankees in the Bronx. Tonight, the White Sox will send left-hander Chris Sale, baseball’s first seven-game winner, to the mound. He also has a 1.79 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP, and could be a candidate for this year’s American League Cy Young Award.

Opposing Sale and the White Sox will be Luis Severino, who has struggled with an 0-5 record and a 6.12 ERA in six starts.

Why The White Sox Are Winning

Chicago is winning because right now, all of the team’s parts are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Outfielders Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera, the offensive table-setters, are getting on base; Eaton has a .391 on-base percentage to go with a .291 batting average and four stolen bases and three triples, and Cabrera has a .379 OBP and a team-leading .308 batting average.

Third baseman Todd Frazier, traded to the White Sox from Cincinnati in the off-season, already has 11 home runs, and slugging first baseman Jose Abreu has come on strong after a slow start — for the month of May, he is batting .308 (12-for-39) with nine RBI, with a .981 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).

The White Sox’s new second baseman, Brett Lawrie, has also proven to be a solid addition, batting .278 with a .372 on-base percentage and 10 doubles.

In addition to Sale, Chicago has solid starters in Jose Quintana (5-1, 1.38 ERA, 0.99 WHIP in seven starts), and Mat Latos (5-0, though he has gotten roughed up in a few recent starts.

Closer David Robinson has saved 10 games, to go with 17 strikeouts in 14.2 innings, and a 1.23 ERA.

They are also strong defensively, as veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins has committed only two errors thus far this season.

Meanwhile, In New York.

The White Sox are taking on a Yankees team that is struggling at 14-19, last in the highly-competitive American League East. Manager Joe Girardi has been particularly let down by his starting pitching; in addition to Severino, Michael Pineda (1-4, 6.28 ERA, 1.60 WHIP), Nathan Eovaldi (3-2, 4.85 ERA, 1.34 WHIP), and veteran C.C. Sabathia (2-2, 3.81 ERA, 1.55 WHIP) have all struggled.

Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees
The only starter who has done well is Masahiro Tanaka, who has a 3.11 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and opponents are batting just .209 against him. However, Tanaka has not been helped by the offense, and so has just a 1-0 record to show for it.

Aside from Starlin Castro’s team-leading .300 batting average, the Yankees’ aging offense is struggling: Carlos Beltran, 39, is batting .256 with seven home runs, but a meager .281 on-base percentage; Alex Rodriguez, 40, Mark Teixeira, 36, and Chase Headley, 32, are all batting .194.

What do you think? Can the White Sox keep up their hot start? Or, will the Yankees reinvigorate their slumbering bats against Chicago?

[Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images]