Is It Still Early? The White Sox in April

Is It Still Early? The White Sox in April

Well, this is called Sox and Stuff but I’ve definitely been more focused on the “stuff” side of things of late.  It would be easier if the White Sox weren’t so lousy as well.  I know what you’re thinking: “Kev, it’s early the White Sox can still be competitive. Don’t forget 1983, either.  The Sox were 20-25 at the end of May and won the division going away.” Usually, I’m completely with this line of thinking, April is early in the baseball season.  There is plenty of time to turn it around, five months of baseball for goodness sakes.  Unfortunately, as I saw the White Sox trot out in their throw-back uniforms celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the 1983, I thought, “how often, since 1983, have the White Sox rebounded from a poor start to capture a playoff spot?”  The answer to that question is…never.

That is a pretty cold dose of reality, but looking over the past performances of the White Sox since 1983 they have never made it to the playoffs after having a losing record in April, namely 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2010 were all DOA.  Even rebounding from a bad April with a strong May has never worked out in the past thirty years.  In both 1997 and 2011, the Sox had poor Aprils and good Mays, but ultimately finished out of the money for the season. It isn’t just confined to a bad April either.  A winning record in April but a losing one in May has been the death knell for the White Sox as well, the 1988, 1991, 1992, 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2009 seasons all saw a May Swoon.  The great saving grace to those runs of futility were the 1993 and 2002 seasons, when the White Sox finished April with strong 13-9 and 17-8 records respectively, but were 11-14 and 13-14 in May.  They managed to stay in first at the end of May 2000 and win the division that year.  They managed a minor comeback in 1993 making up 3 games and taking over first on June 23 and never looking back.  In the other winning seasons, 2005 and 2008, the Sox had a winning record in both April and May.  Sad to say even a decent-to-hot start isn’t a guarantee to a playoff spot, as seen in 1985, 1990, 1996, 2004, 2006, and 2012 (technically, 2012 April was a .500 month, but they had a winning record at the end of May.)  A quick word for 1994: I’m pretty sure the White Sox would have won the division that year, but since it ultimately was wiped out, I didn’t include it in this discussion.  If I had to, the1994 White Sox looked pretty good by the end of May, having a winning record in both April and May, so they would be part of those winning year lists.

So as the White Sox limp their way out of town and out of April this week, with no chance of a winning record the month, the prospects don’t look particularly good.  It’s funny, I was mentioned this to a fellow White Sox fan as I was working this up and he said, “I don’t trust statistics.”  I suppose on the most basic level these numbers are statistics, like your birthday being a statistic, but I didn’t manipulate or compute any data.  I just took a look at the historical record, and history isn’t too kind to the White Sox.  Yet optimism isn’t completely unfounded.  If I had more time and drive I’m sure I could find in the last thirty years a fair number of teams that came back from poor April starts to win their respective divisions and beyond.  Who is to say 2013 White Sox won’t add to that roll? They are only 3.5 games back of a Royals team that has yet to win anything.  And, hey, it’s early… right?

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