So how bad are the White Sox, anyway?

Guess whose 11-loss streak has them right back in “historically awful” territory?

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We’re two months into the 2024 season, and the White Sox are through 60 games. They’ve won all of 15 of those contests, because they are very bad at baseball. It’s not the players’ fault that they’re this bad, they didn’t cause themselves to be put all together into a team-like structure like so, but that’s the truth of the matter, regardless.

This isn’t a normal thing to check in on necessarily — there are always bad teams — but the White Sox have been a special kind of bad that deserves a closer look. Sixty games into the 2023 season, for instance, the A’s were off to a historically awful start, as they were 12-48 — a winning percentage of .200 — and had already been outscored by 210 runs. The White Sox, through their own first 60, are just a little bit better, but not by much. A 15-45 record, a run differential of -138, and a winning percentage of .250. It looked like they were maybe turning things around for a little bit, at least in terms of not being as embarrassing as they had been, but then whoops, they lost 11 in a row. That’s right: the White Sox were, just a couple of weeks back, merely 15-34, which was on pace for 50 wins if you round up. Now, though, they’re on pace for 41 wins, or, 122 losses (again, rounding up for both, hence the 163 games in total there).

So the White Sox are better than that A’s team from last year at this same time, sure, but there were at least some reasons to hope that Oakland would recover a little. The 2023 A’s were supposed to be a bad baseball team, but not quite like they played the first couple of months. They did end up rebounding a bit, so they avoided keeping the all-time-losers record they were on pace for over the first couple of months, and instead lost “just” 112 games. Or, how many the 2024 White Sox were on pace to lose before dropping 11 in a row.

Do the White Sox have any reasons to believe they’ll be better over the next four months? Not to the degree of that A’s team, at least. They had the worst lineup in the majors last year — yes, even worse than that of the A’s team that lost 112 games — and they themselves put up 101 losses on the season. The lineup in 2024 is worse, and not by accident. Losing some of their only good hitters to injuries hasn’t helped, of course, but as we’ve already discussed, new general manager Chris Getz spent the offseason acquiring a bunch of hitters who hit like he did in his own playing career, which is not a compliment to anyone involved in that observation.

Chicago picked up Tommy Pham as an in-season free agent, and he’s been their best hitter besides Gavin Sheets, with a 109 OPS+. Korey Lee replaced Martin Maldonado as the primary catcher, which was an upgrade just in the addition by subtraction since, but Lee has also managed a 96 OPS+ on the year, compared to Maldonado’s… does that say “-27”? How does that even work? Jesus Christ, Martin. Even with these upgrades, the White Sox have just been abysmal: this 11-game losing streak, for instance, has happened with both Pham and Lee in the lineup, which should tell you a lot about the rest of the starting nine. Paul DeJong has been the third-best healthy hitter in the starting lineup, and that won’t last the season.

Well. DeJong might still be their third-best hitter come year’s end. It’ll just have a very different meaning by October.

It’s unclear exactly when Yoan Moncada will return from his adductor strain that landed him on the 60-day injured list back in April, but the White Sox need him healthy and hitting. Especially since Pham probably isn’t long for Chicago: there’s little chance that he’ll survive the trade deadline without being dealt somewhere, assuming he’s still hitting. So with all of this being the case — terrible hitters are hitting terribly, Pham might be traded with two months to go in the season if not sooner, Moncada and Luis Robert are still out for who knows how much longer, DeJong probably can’t keep up this act forever — is there any reasonable assumption to make about the White Sox improving as the year goes on like the A’s did last summer?

They better hope something positive happens, because as of right now, they’re on pace to set the modern loss record. The 1962 expansion Mets lost 120 games. The 2003 Tigers came close with 118, and the 2018 Orioles logged 115 defeats. The Tigers, by the way, have the worst winning percentage over a full season of any team this century, at .265. The White Sox, again, are currently at .250. Like with the A’s a year ago, even avoiding this fate only means avoiding some top-of-list infamy. They’re horrific whether they lose 122 or 119 or 112. And it doesn’t have to be this way, either, except for that someone who has been in charge for a very long time compulsively makes it so.

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