Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 22, 2005
BASEBALL: My World Series Pick: White Sox in 7
I find this one a tough one to call. Rational analysis gets you only so far in the postseason; I often find it more effective to look backward at which storyline seems more likely to unfold. On the one hand, the Astros have better front-line talent; they have two big-time bats (Berkman & Ensberg) to the Sox' one (Konerko), they can go 1-2-3 with an inner-circle Hall of Famer who had his best career ERA, followed by a guy who has four World Series rings and posted his career-best ERA, followed by the only picther in baseball to win 20 games each of the past two years. They have the fire-breathing closer (granted that Lidge doesn't seem as scary after the Pujols Bomb). The White Sox, by contrast, have depth - four real good starters vs. three great ones, four tough relievers vs. the Astros' three, a leadoff man who gets on base (Houston has nothing of the sort at this juncture), and an overall deeper lineup. All in all, they're pretty well-matched teams.
It's worth noting that the Sox got this far by beating two teams that were without their ace starter, whereas the Astros have three of them. In fact, let's rank the starters the White Sox have faced or will face in the playoffs by ERA+ (for those of you who are unfamiliar, ERA+, the baseball-reference.com stat, adjusts ERA for league and park - the higher the better):
1. Clemens 221
So, you have to figure they will have a lot more trouble with the Astros, other than Backe. And the small-ball approach will have trouble against Clemens (because of the strikeouts) and Pettitte (who can strangle the running game with baseball's best pickoff move).
For all of that, I have the feeling that this is, at long last, Chicago's year. The team is deep and well-balanced, and the storyline of Ozzieball seems destined to be written. This will be a tight, tough series (although expect one or two high-scoring games, just because baseball is like that). White Sox in Seven.