The Chicago White Sox are running away with the American League Central division.
They currently have a 10-game lead over the second-place Cleveland Indians, and the White Sox are the only team in the division with a winning record.
Needless to say, Chicago hasn’t really been challenged this season.
The team is going to be able to coast through the remainder of the regular season with no worries, and it will find itself in the ALDS when October rolls around.
While that may sound like a good thing, going unchallenged for a full 162 can actually be a negative.
In fact, the White Sox—thanks in large part to a division-heavy slate—have played the easiest schedule in baseball to this point.
This raises a valid question: Is the team legit?
The White Sox Are Just 16-21 Against Teams With Winning Records
The White Sox struggle against quality opponents.
They don’t play winning teams very frequently, but they struggle (to the tune of a 16-21 record) when they do.
Coming into today, the Chicago White Sox had played 36 games against teams with a record greater than .500, 10 fewer than Detroit, the next closest team
— Hoodie Maybin (Joey Gallo enjoyer) (@HoodieMaybin) August 16, 2021
To give credit where it’s due, Chicago has done a great job of taking care of business against inferior opponents.
The club is 52-29 against teams with records of .500 or worse.
That shouldn’t be overlooked.
Mediocre clubs typically produce mediocre results in those games, and that cannot be said about the White Sox.
However, the overall takeaway here should be that the team has an alarming record against quality opponents.
You don’t get to face losing teams in the postseason, and if the White Sox are serious about making a World Series run, they’re going to have to go through the best of the best to get there.
Fortunately, We’re About To Find Out What The White Sox Are Made Of
The next two weeks should be very telling.
Chicago just faced the New York Yankees in a three-game series, and New York took two out of three.
This would be an incredible ALCS matchup if you ask me. Who knows if these teams will make it that far, though…
— Max Goodman (@MaxTGoodman) August 15, 2021
Now, the White Sox are going to have to deal with the Oakland Athletics for four games, the Tampa Bay Rays for three games, and the Toronto Blue Jays for four games.
All of those teams have legitimate playoff aspirations.
The Athletics hold the second Wild Card spot in the AL, the Rays are atop the AL East, and the Blue Jays have been one of the best teams in baseball over the past month or so.
In total, it’s going to be 11 straight games for the White Sox against contending teams.
A record of 6-5 over that span would be promising.
A record of 7-4 would be even better.
Anything exceeding that would put the rest of the league on notice.
If Chicago is tired of hearing the “weak schedule” narrative, it’s going to have a chance to silence the critics over the next 11 games.
One thing is certain: The White Sox have tons of talent.
When the playoffs do roll around, they’re going to be a fascinating team to watch.
But there are valid concerns.
It feels like we don’t know who this team truly is yet.
We’re bound to find out sooner or later.