Let’s check in on the White Sox

The White Sox are having the worst season in MLB, but let’s see how close they are to being historically bad.

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Good news, White Sox fans! Your team is no longer on pace to have the worst season of the modern era. When we last checked in on June 3, the White Sox were 15-45, good for a win percentage of .250, and had been outscored by 134 runs on the season. They were on pace for 122 losses if you rounded up, which was two more than the 1962 expansion Mets. In the month-plus since, though, the White Sox have just been regular bad, as far as wins and losses are concerned, instead of historically so.

They’re now 26-66, so, they put up an 11-21 record since we last looked in on them. Over 162 games, that’s a 106-loss pace. How very dull. This mini surge has the White Sox now on pace for 116 losses on the season, which would make them worse than the 2018 Orioles (115 defeats), but better than the 2003 Tigers and those aforementioned Mets.

Chicago has now been outscored by 164 runs on the year, though, and if they manage to trade Luis Robert before the July 30 deadline, then there goes their best hitter: Robert returned to the lineup on June 4, following a lengthy stint on the injured list, and has batted .230/.315/.496 since. That might not seem like an all-world line by any means, but you have to remember that (1) league-wide offense isn’t exactly flourishing, with the entirety of MLB at .242/.312/.395, and (2) the White Sox as a unit have hit all of .222/.284/.350, and have by far the worst OPS+ in the American League (80), and second-worst in the majors, ahead of only the Marlins — who have somehow managed to produce an OPS+ of 74 after three full months of ball. It’s worth pointing out that just four other teams are even in the 80s with their OPS+, and they’re all at 89.

Which is a way of saying that the White Sox aren’t on pace for 122 losses anymore, but that could also all change in a hurry. The team still can’t hit, and Robert might be dealt. They’ve got a few pitchers who can pitch, but if any of them are traded, then things are worse on that side of the ball, too. It’s entirely possible this last month is the best the White Sox play all season, which is depressing, but also humiliating in the way people who aren’t fans of the team can appreciate.

Or! Maybe the White Sox manage to play about this well the rest of the year, and avoid being listed in future articles where people recount the worst seasons in modern baseball, seasons had by teams like the ‘62 Mets, ‘03 Tigers, and ‘18 Orioles. That still would put them at well over 100 losses — 112, if you don’t want to do the math yourself — which would also be their second consecutive 100-loss campaign, and third in the last seven years. Remember when the White Sox got a little bit of a respite from criticism because they went to the postseason in consecutive years, including an AL Central title? More 100-loss seasons in the same stretch than playoff berths makes that seem real far away.

PECOTA’s projected standings are a bit more conservative on the “how terrible are the White Sox” front than either their current pace for the season or even adapting their pace for the last month in is, with Chicago slated to finish in last (of course) with a record of 56-106. It’s not great when the best you can hope for is “regular terrible” instead of notably, historically so, but that’s where the White Sox find themselves. We’ll see how things look another month from now, but it’s hard to imagine it’s going to be much better than they’ve managed to this point.

There’s probably a lesson in here regarding the weird cronyism and the slashing of payroll and Jerry Reinsdorf’s need to insert himself into everything in a way that’s detrimental to the building of a sustained winner of any kind, but don’t worry. He won’t learn anything from it.

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