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Inside the White Sox's Turnaround

Following the White Sox 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on June 1st, one could expect eccentric manager Ozzie Guillen to feel a little frustrated. His team had just dropped three games out of a four-game set to the Rays mustering a mere nine runs in the entire series. More revealing of their offensive struggles were the 65 men the Sox left on base during the series. The third game was the epitome of those struggles as the Sox went 2-14 with runners in scoring position eventually losing on a Gabe Gross walk-off home run. Following the game Guillen claimed he wanted moves made that upcoming Tuesday. Coaching changes, player changes, whatever. He claimed that if changes weren’t made by Tuesday, the lineup would be altered.

As usual, this was just another case of Ozzie being Ozzie. General manager Kenny Williams met with Guillen before the opening of a three-game set against the Royals that Tuesday. No moves were made and the batting lineup wasn’t distorted.

Since then the Sox haven’t lost a game. Entering today’s game against the Twins, the Sox were riding a six-game win streak thanks in large part to an offense Guillen said he was sick and tired of watching.

Here is a look at the Sox offense this season before and after the win streak (today’s 7-5 victory against the Twins excluded):

March 31st- June 1st: .247/.325/.402, 30.0 AB/HR, .272 BABIP

June 2nd-June 8th: .346/.400/.627, 18.0 AB/HR, .335 BABIP

As one can see, the Sox offense has been incredibly hot thanks in large part to an upped home run rate and a ridiculous .335 BABIP. Asking whether the Sox can sustain such a high BABIP is a silly, but the team is hitting 17.2% of their batted balls for line drives, so it was expected that a few more balls were going to turn into hits. Conversely, the home run rate may partially be explained by the fact the Sox have played all of their games during the win streak at the hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field, but many of the team’s struggling players, such as Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Nick Swisher, have started hitting a few more balls over the fence as well.

Can we expect the Sox offense to remain this hot throughout the course of the season? Of course not. Can John Danks and Jose Contreras pitch sub-3 ERA baseball the rest of the year? Unlikely.

But the Sox offense is better than what it showed during April and May and the team’s rotation and bullpen are good enough to make the club a legitimate threat to make a lot of noise come October.

All and all you have a White Sox team that has quietly mounted a 6.5 game lead in the American League Central and a team that currently has an 87% chance of making the playoffs according to Baseball Prospectus.

Baseball fans need to start realizing things are going just as well on the South Side of Chicago as they are on the North Side.