The Chicago White Sox are enjoying a great 2021 season, and as July winds down, the team is starting to create some serious separation in the American League Central.
At 56-36, the White Sox have an eight-game lead over the second-place Cleveland Indians, and the Indians are the only team with even a remote chance of catching up.
Barring something unforeseen, the division looks like it belongs to the White Sox in 2021.
Let’s break down the three biggest factors that have contributed to the White Sox running away with the division so quickly this season.
3. A Weak AL Central Division
This is not meant as a knock on the season the White Sox are having in any way, but a key factor in Chicago’s big division lead is the fact that the AL Central is incredibly weak.
As mentioned, the Indians—who are 47-43—are realistically the only team with a chance at catching up with the White Sox.
And even then, the difference between Chicago and Cleveland is eight full games.
Every other team in the division has a losing record.
It’s a massive luxury for the White Sox to know that there’s no one else in their area code as it pertains to the division race.
2. An Extremely Well-Rounded Lineup
Chicago’s lineup deserves a lot of the credit for the team’s success this season.
Of the 13 offensive players currently on the active roster, nine have an above-average OPS+.
That becomes even more impressive when you consider the fact that the team has four other players (who are currently on the injured list) who each have an above-average OPS+.
Chicago’s roster is loaded with quality hitters.
You could argue that the lineup lacks star power, but it doesn’t seem to matter when everyone is producing at a serviceable level.
Most importantly, the team pushes across 5.12 runs per game, and that’s the fourth-best mark in baseball.
1. The Emergence Of Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodon
Very few teams can say that they have two legitimate Cy Young candidates, but the White Sox can scream it from the rooftops.
Lynn currently has a 1.94 ERA, 3.28 FIP, and 1.024 WHIP.
He has racked up a WAR of 3.4 and has fanned 109 batters over 97.2 innings.
Above all, he constantly keeps the White Sox in games—he has allowed three runs or fewer in all but one of his starts.
Lance Lynn for the American League All-Stars! pic.twitter.com/bDoo9VoCEd
— Southside Showdown (@SoxShowdown) July 14, 2021
Rodon, on the other hand, has been just as good.
The White Sox literally have two pitchers battling for the ERA title.
Rodon has a 2.14 ERA, 199 ERA+, 2.21 FIP, and 0.90 WHIP.
He has struck out 140 batters over 96.2 innings, giving him the league-lead in another category: strikeouts per nine.
He averages 13.0 strikeouts per nine innings.
What a run it has been this year for the lefty.
How great has Carlos Rodon been this season?
He's given up 1 hit or less in a game FOUR times.
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) July 19, 2021
Between Lynn and Rodon, the White Sox have one of the best one-two punches in baseball, and we haven’t even mentioned some of the rotation’s other studs, like Dallas Keuchel, Lucas Giolito, and Dylan Cease.
When your weakest rotation piece (by the numbers) is a former Cy Young winner (Keuchel), you’re in a good spot.