The Houston Astros have been a postseason staple for the last five years. The Chicago White Sox have not come close to the same success as Houston, but are a young team on the rise with plenty of promise for the future. At the helm for both of these teams? Two men who have made their marks on October baseball for almost three decades: Dusty Baker and Tony La Russa.
Baker took control of the Astros in the wake of the 2017 Sign Stealing Scandal, whereas La Russa was offered the White Sox job by his friend and team owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Two men, in entirely different situations, fighting for a shot at winning the World Series. So who has the edge? Well, that’s a bit more complicated.
The Houston Run-Naissance
Following the bombshell reporting that accused the Astros of stealing signs over several seasons, including their 2017 World Series run, the Astros were not looking so hot. After a rough 2020 season that saw them limp to an expanded playoff spot, the feeling around the league was that Houston wasn’t a good team once they stopped cheating.
And then the postseason started. The fact that the Astros pushed the Rays to seven games in the ALCS was a shock, but it shouldn’t have been. This team has been anchored by the same names for the better part of the last half-decade. Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman, and Jose Altuve are still solid offensive contributors, as they were in 2017. Not a lot has changed. That’s what makes them scary.
The Astros offense is something to fear, as is their rotation anchored by Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers, Jr. In the box, they have speed, pop, and can move the line like no other team. They have experience, velocity, and a plethora of pitchers who can get swings and misses out on the mound. Add in some fresher faces like Kyle Tucker and Framber Valdez, and the White Sox are going to have their hands full.
Not So Shy-Sox Anymore
The Chicago White Sox are repeating as AL Central champions, and there are two excellent reasons for that. Similar to last year, the AL Central is virtually non-competitive. The Royals, Guardians, Tigers, and Twins were never a threat to the White Sox, and that’s okay. The entire division decided to rebuild at the same time, with Chicago being the exception. This isn’t a new phenomenon, as Cleveland had a similar issue heading into the postseason a few years back.
Getting into the postseason is difficult for any team, but the White Sox had a notable easier road to October. The White Sox had a 66-40 record against teams below .500. Against teams with winning records, Chicago was 27-29. Naturally, some questions about longevity in October began to come up.
But then you look at their roster and those doubts begin to dissipate. With a rotation led by Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, and Carlos Rodon, the White Sox have no shortage of solid starters. On the field, led by 2020 AL MVP Jose Abreu and sparkplug shortstop Tim Anderson, the White Sox can provide some fireworks at any moment.
The Chicago White Sox have a youthful exuberance that can only be expressed in bat flips. Or, in this case, bat throws.
When the Dusty Settles…
As tempting as it is to lean into Chicago’s power in this series, the odds feel in Houston’s favor. Not only have the Astros been the underdog, but they’ve also climbed the mountain before. Even if a trash can aided them, they still had to play the other side of the ball.
The most damning piece of insight against the White Sox is that record against good teams. Chicago had a similar issue last year, and the Oakland Athletics knocked the White Sox out of the Wild Card round. Which team eliminated the Athletics in the next round? The Houston Astros.
Astros in 3.
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