FLB: White Sox preview

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They're the defending World Champions, but somehow, it's easy to forget exactly how good the 2005 Chicago White Sox were. On July 18, they had an astonishing .681 winning percentage and were coming off a four-game sweep of the rival Indians in Cleveland. On Aug. 1, they held a commanding 15-game lead over those same Indians in the American League Central. They won two of three from the Yankees in New York Aug. 8-10. They finished the season with 99 wins, one short of the major-league lead. Yet, incredibly, as the calendar flipped to October, no one gave the White Sox a chance at postseason success.

Boy did Chicago quiet its critics. The White Sox swept the defending champion Boston Red Sox in the division series, lost the opener of the championship series to the Los Angeles Angels, then rebounded to win the next four games, as well as sweep the Houston Astros in the World Series. And they did it without anyone seriously considered a superstar on the roster; no White Sox player earned a first-place vote in the MVP or Cy Young races, and Mark Buehrle was the highest-ranked name on the Player Rater, at No. 31. Seventeen other teams had at least one player ranked higher in 2005.