The Chicago White Sox have been in a free fall for the better part of the past month and a half. They’ve looked downright embarrassing at times, whether it’s basic fielding and baserunning blunders, hacking away at the first pitch of at-bats or being unable to hold leads in the eighth and ninth innings.
The White Sox seem to have reached their breaking point after an excruciating 5-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers on June 28. As much as some people like to call for manager Robin Ventura to be fired, he can’t help that some of Chicago’s players are just performing poorly. No qualified batter has an average above .291 and no one has an OPS above .838. Chicago’s 52 fielding errors rank eighth most in MLB and fourth most in the AL.
Aside from first baseman Jose Abreu, the White Sox look completely and utterly lost on offense. The defense has looked atrocious at times. Starting pitcher Chris Sale is one of the few reasons — likely the only reason — to continue watching the agonizing play that the White Sox trot out each day.
Things are looking like they’ll only get worse as the White Sox have one of the toughest stretches of their season coming up. They head into the All-Star break with series matchups against the St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs — teams who are all above .500.
The White Sox, on the other hand, have been over .500 just once this season — they were 18-17 on May 17 after a six-game winning streak. They’ve won three out of 13 series since then and sit in the cellar of the AL Central at 32-42, 12.5 games behind the division-leading Kansas City Royals.
To put the White Sox’s rise and decline — but mainly decline — into a month-by-month perspective, they opened the season by going 8-11 in April for a winning percentage of .421. Their play improved in May as they squeaked above .500, posting a 15-15 mark. Things have taken a spill since then as Chicago has gone a miserable 9-16 (.360) in June — barring one more June game against the Cardinals on June 30.
Despite Chicago’s sub-par play, veteran slugger Adam LaRoche, who has been on some poorly performing teams in the past, said he believes the White Sox have the right mindset to turn the tide.
“I don’t seed anybody checking out,” LaRoche said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “No, I see everybody staying about as positive as you can. Our last two or three wins have been close games, exciting games, and regardless of where you are in the standings a win is a win. We need a bunch of them right now, and the idea is to bring that momentum into the next day. You hope you get on a streak where you roll out five or six and keep doing.”
In a sense LaRoche is right — it’s up to the White Sox players to do something. Firing Ventura won’t automatically make the players better or bring the White Sox out of last place in the AL. The White Sox will more than likely be sellers at the deadline; hopefully other teams see something valuable in these Chicago players so that the White Sox can stockpile some future talent — because this season is over.