Monday, October 17, 2005

I've Seen the Future of the Royals...

... and they are called the Chicago White Sox. It's amazing how far a team can go when they have dependable starting pitching, a hard-throwing, high-strikeout bullpen and a defense that covers lots of ground in the outfield, makes all the routine plays on the infield and rarely gives away cheap outs (except when Guillen sacrifice bunts in the first inning; egads). Now THERE'S a model for future success, one that reminds me of a pretty damn good team circa 1975-1985.

Anyone who's paying attention has seen this statistic, but its so amazing it bears repeating - in 5 games, the Sox starting pitchers threw 44.1 innings. Their fantastic bullpen was only needed for 2/3 of an inning. The White Sox were by far the best team in the AL, and they absolutely deserved to advance to their first World Series in several decades. I was very impressed with their dominating performance and I think they have to be odd-on favorite to win the World Series.

Watching a team like the White Sox succeed reminds me that...

1) How relaxed, confident and effective starting pitchers without the greatest stuff can be when they believe the defenders behind them will make all of the plays.

2) In the same vein, I don't pay nearly enough attention to the importance of defense, probably in part because it is so difficult to measure. But you can see it: a great defensive team takes so much pressure off of the pitchers and the offense. A poor defensive team (and the Royals have been the worst defensive baseball team of the past 5 years) wreaks havoc on a team's confidence.

3) Specifically, how mediocre players like Emil Brown who produce slightly above average offensive performance are fine to have around as bench hitters but have no place starting on a winning baseball team because they're so atrocious defensively.

4) Alex Gordon, Billy Butler and Justin Huber may all live up to the hype, but it's not going to matter if the Royals continue to fail to develop good starting pitching.

5) Buddy Bell's emphasis on the importance of defensive play (at least in positions where he has a choice), even at the expense of some offense, is probably quite wise in the long run.



At 5:49 PM, Blogger bfos said...

Good defense? Have you seen the Sox play?

At 12:17 PM, Blogger DL said...

The Sox had the highest defensive efficiency in baseball. Their team RAA was also among the highest in the league.

At 1:41 PM, Blogger SoonerRoyal said...

The White Sox pretty much have everything. They are going to be tough to beat over the next couple of years. While the Royals have been meddling around, the other teams in the division have improved themselves. The Indians have a very good core of young position players and the Twins have a strong core of pitching with plenty more on the way. This division is only going to get tougher.


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