It took 13 years, but the Chicago White Sox are finally American League Central champions again.
The team has been trending in the right direction for a few seasons, and in 2021, everything has come together for Chicago.
Fans in the Windy City couldn’t be more excited.
When the postseason rolls around next month, the White Sox will be battling for their first World Series title since 2005.
Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons the White Sox were able to claim the division title in 2021.
An Elite One-Two Punch
Both guys have been stellar for Chicago all year long, and there’s no telling where the club would be without them.
Let’s start with Lynn.
The 34-year-old has a 2.47 ERA, 174 ERA+, 3.26 FIP, and 1.07 WHIP across 26 starts this season.
He has fanned 166 batters in 146 innings, and the White Sox are 15-11 when he gets the ball.
He also has a 5.1 WAR.
As for Rodon, the lefty has arguably been marginally better than Lynn this season (and that says a lot).
Rodon has a 2.47 ERA, 147 ERA+, 2.64 FIP, and 0.97 WHIP over 23 starts.
He has struck out 181 batters in 127.2 innings, giving him a nine-inning strikeout rate of 12.8.
He has a 4.4 WAR on the year.
One thing to keep an eye on: Rodon left his last start with soreness.
Carlos Rodon update. He said he's not that concerned. "Normal soreness. Nothing crazy."
Asked if he was worried about making his next few starts he said 'no.'
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) September 21, 2021
The team is certainly hoping he’ll be good to go for the playoffs.
A Well-Rounded Offense
Chicago’s offense features a plethora of solid hitters.
From top to bottom, there are a seemingly endless amount of reliable bats.
In fact, among players who have appeared in at least 45 games, the team has a whopping nine hitters with an OPS+ above 100.
In theory, the team could roll with a lineup that consists solely of above-average hitters.
Not many other teams — if any — can say that.
The White Sox average 4.93 runs per game, which is the seventh-best mark in all of baseball.
A Weak Division
The White Sox undoubtedly earned their division title, but they were certainly aided by a weak division.
Chicago is the only team in the AL Central with a winning record.
The second-best team — the Cleveland Indians — has a 75-77 record on the year.
It just shows you how weak the AL Central really is. https://t.co/wvUM220OZQ
— 🇺🇸🇲🇽Guz19™️🇲🇽🇺🇸 (@Guz419) September 24, 2021
The White Sox went pretty much unchallenged for the whole season, so the nerves that often come with being in an intense playoff race were not there for this club.
We’ll see if that ends up being a good thing or a bad thing when the postseason rolls around.
It’s a valid concern.
Wrap-Up: White Sox Deserve To Celebrate
The White Sox can pretty much relax over the final week or so of the regular season.
They’ve locked up the division, and they don’t really have anything to play for in terms of playoff seeding.
Barring something unforeseen, the team will almost certainly enter the postseason as the No. 3 seed in the AL.
That’s not an awful place to be, but it does mean that the club will have to advance past the ALDS without the benefit of home-field advantage.
But regardless, for right now, the White Sox deserve to celebrate their division title.
It has been too long.