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Despite having a smaller payroll than all but four other teams, the Chicago White Sox currently sit fourth in the AL Central, and are just one game back in the Wild Card race. This has led many to wonder how the team has managed to succeed despite its limited resources.

The Chicago White Sox are currently fourth in the MLB Power Rankings. This is a great way for a team to start off the season for the second straight year. The past couple of years have been rough for the team with many injuries and mishaps. Last season the team had the worst start in franchise history. But this year, the team is off to a good start with already a few series wins and a dominating game against the Detroit Tigers.

MLB.com published its latest Power Ranking today, and the Chicago White Sox are in fourth place in Major League Baseball, behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League.

The White Sox have certainly earned their place on this list. The team currently stands at 15-12, with a 7-3 record in its last ten games.

Chicago’s .556 win-loss percentage is the fourth highest in the American League and the second highest in the AL Central. They are currently 1.5 games behind the Kansas City Royals in the division.

Records aside, the White Sox have the third-best run differential in baseball, with an average outscoring 1.0 runs per game this season.

The team had high hopes for the 2021 season after making the playoffs in 2020 for the first time since 2008.

Manager Rick Hahn has tried to bolster the team with a number of trades in the offseason, both big contracts (Liam Hendricks, Lance Lynn) and extras (Adam Eaton, Billy Hamilton, Jake Lamb).

White Sox fans should appreciate that their team is so high on the list, especially considering the struggles they had to overcome early in the season.

Injuries

Before the season had even started, the White Sox suffered what looked like a major blow when 2020 silver tackle Eloy Jimenez tore his pectoral muscle. The injury required surgery and Jimenez was out of action for five to six months.

Right midfielder Adam Engel also missed the first month of the season with a hamstring injury.

In addition, shortstop Tim Anderson missed some time early in the season, and Billy Hamilton, who was brought in to bolster the outfield, also spent time in IL.

What may be especially important is that central midfielder Luis Robert had to leave last weekend’s game with what appeared to be a serious injury to his lower body. It was a strain of the right hip flexor and, to the relief of White Sox fans, the X-rays were negative. The severity of Robert’s injuries is not yet known.

Stars in trouble

On top of that, some of the stars of the squad have struggled at the start of the season, most notably Jose Abreu.

The 34-year-old first baseman ends the 2020 season as the MVP. All eyes were on Abreu to continue his dominant run and take the team to the next level. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned and Abreu had the worst start of his career.

The historically consistent hitter is hitting just .374 this season, more than 100 points below his career average. In his first 27 games, he hit just .202 and had a strike out on over 28% of his pitches.

Abreu isn’t the only player struggling at the start of the season, however. Catcher Yasmany Grandal signed the largest contract in White Sox history (four years, $73 million) following the 2019 season and should be a key asset for the White Sox as they transition from rebuilding to competition.

The catcher is still doing what he does best, pulling runs, but he’s also hitting .127 with no notice and he has a slugging percentage of just .273.

But not everything depends on these two. The White Sox are really struggling with runners in scoring position this year, with 3.59 runners per game. That’s the sixth worst record in baseball.

Insufficiently effective bullpen

The White Sox bullpen was considered one of the best in baseball at the beginning of the season following the appointment of Liam Hendricks. However, it was only on paper.

White Sox pitchers have allowed 77 hits and 41 earned runs in this early season. There are also 13 long range bullets.

Overall, the White Sox’ pitchers have -1.6 WAR this season, the fifth worst in all of baseball.

Pleasant surprises

The good news for the White Sox is that they have found ways to overcome these obstacles. Some of these decisions were quite unexpected.

Designated hitter Yermin Mercedes has become one of the most exciting stories in baseball this year. The 28-year-old rookie plays in a .395/.435/.628 schedule with an OPS+ of over 200. He was named American League Rookie of the Month in April and is already a contender for Rookie of the Year.

Other White Sox players have also proven their worth. Overall, the White Sox are allowing an average of 5.0 runs per game.

On the pitching side, Carlos Rodon seems to be experiencing a complete career resurgence. The left-hander has a 4-0 record with a 0.72 ERA and hit his 20th no-hitter in White Sox history against the Indians.

Aside from a few glitches, the starting lineup as a whole has been a great asset to this team, especially lately. This season, the White Sox starters have 0.6 WAR, fourth best in the American League.

Summary

Overall, White Sox fans can be proud of this team this season.

He had to overcome some major obstacles and failed performances, which led to a lot of frustration and criticism from the fans.

The key, however, is perspective. To defy all of the above unpleasantness and still finish fourth in the MLB.com rankings is cause for celebration.

Some of these problems will solve themselves. If they can get some of their key players back, avoid more injuries, get their stars back on track and hitting with RISP, and the bullpen can live up to its potential, it’s frightening to think what this White Sox team could be in 2021.

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