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A Red Flag for the White Sox

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I am finally chiming in.

As many of you know, the White Sox had a 15 game lead not too long ago and that lead is now 7 games. As a Sox fan, I am, of course, concerned (partly because they will still have to play Cleveland six more times).

The Sox seem to have been lucky to have had the best record in baseball at the All-Star break. I wrote about this at The Chicago Sports Review the day before the All-Star game (the link is provided below). What I found was that the Sox should have only had a .548 winning pct based on their OPS differential (their OPS minus the OPS they allowed their opponents). Yet it was actually .663 at the break.

My theory on why they were doing so much better than they should have was that their OPS differential with runners on base (ROB) was unusually high. Here is what I wrote on July 18:

"So why are the Sox winning so many more games than expected? It is their performance with runners on base (ROB). They have the best OPSDIFF in MLB in this category at .122. The Sox have an OPS of .797 with ROB (overall it is just .743). The Sox pitchers allow an OPS of just .675 with ROB (overall it is .705). Normally, OPS goes up .018 with ROB as compared to overall OPS. Notice that with ROB, the Sox hitters go up .052 while the Sox pitchers go down .030. This dramatically bucks the normal trend. The Sox pitchers have allowed the lowest ROB OPS in MLB (while being 4th overall). The Sox hitters are ninth in ROB OPS (while being just 19th overall). Having base stealers on base can help the hitters. But the only big Sox stealer is Podsednik, so he would only help a little here."

The problem now is that the Sox are rapidly losing their edge in ROB OPS. In just a month, the Sox OPS with ROB has fallen to .776 or by .019 (their overall OPS fell just .004, from .743 to .739). The Sox pitchers are now allowing an OPS of .686, meaning an increase of .011 (the overall OPS the Sox allow has only gone from .705 to .706). So the Sox OPS differential with ROB has fallen from .122 to .090 in just a month.

This is no big surprise. Normally, OPS is about .018 higher with ROB than overall. Right now the Sox overall OPS differential is just .033. If both  their hitters and pitchers went up .018 with ROB (as compared to overall), they would be nowhere near a .090 ROB OPS differential. That latter figure is likely to keep moving closer to their overall OPS differential of .033. That is going to mean a relatively low winning pct the rest of the way (about .542).

Maybe that will be enough. But remember, their overall OPS differential is falling. My rough estimate is that the Sox overall OPS differential has been about .003 since the All-Star game. If they keep that up, that is just about a .500 winning pct. Even if they still make the playoffs, that is not going to  be good enough, to be an average team.

And right now, Cleveland has an overall OPS differential of .071. Their hitters have an OPS of .771 and their pitchers have allowed an OPS of .700. That makes it look Cleveland has a big "true talent" edge over the Sox.

I hope things turn around for the Sox and they start scoring some runs. But Sox fans should be concerned.

My article from the Chicago Sports Review is at

http://www.chicagosportsreview.com/localopinion/localopinionview.asp?c=163344

To see how stats normally change in various situations, go to

http://www.geocities.com/cyrilmorong@sbcglobal.net/Genclutch.htm