Despite a 2-7 record in their last nine games, the White Sox could win the AL Central championship on the final day of the regular season.
The South Siders got off their recent schneid with an important win over the Crosstown-rival Cubs on Saturday night, setting up a possible clinch scenario for Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The Minnesota Twins hold a one-game lead in the division standings heading into Sunday. If they win their final game of the season against the Cincinnati Reds, the Twins are the division champs, no matter what the White Sox do against the Cubs. But if the White Sox win and the Twins lose, the White Sox take the Central crown by virtue of a tiebreaker.
Though the head-to-head matchup is square, with both teams winning five times over the course of their 10 meetings this season, the White Sox have the advantage when it comes to intra-division record. The White Sox went 25-15 against their AL Central foes this season, while the Twins went 23-17.
So all those wins over the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers, against whom the White Sox went a combined 18-2, could prove the difference in who wins the Central.
Both games start shortly after 2 p.m. Central, so that makes it possible that the White Sox might not know their fate by the time their game goes final.
What also might take a while to sort out is playoff seeding. The White Sox are in the postseason, having clinched the franchise's first playoff spot in a dozen years a week and a half ago against the Twins. But their recent slide combined with them still being alive in the division race makes for many possibilities when it comes to what seed they'll be, who they'll be playing in the opening round and where they'll be playing those games.
There are still multiple lines on the bracket the White Sox could land on between the No. 2 seed and the No. 7 seed.
Here's how the White Sox wind up with the ...
No. 2 seed: The White Sox win, the Twins lose and the Oakland Athletics lose. That would give the White Sox the Central crown. If the AL West champion A's lose Sunday, the White Sox would beat them out for the No. 2 seed due to a ridiculous third tiebreaker (the two teams would have identical intra-division records), which awards the higher seed to the team with the best record in its last 20 division games. The White Sox are 12-8 in their last 20 Central games, while the A's would be 10-10 in their last 20 West games.
No. 3 seed: The White Sox win, the Twins lose and the A's win. The White Sox would be assured a top three seed as the Central champs. But the A's would have a better record and secure the No. 2 spot, bumping the White Sox to No. 3.
No. 4 seed: The White Sox win and the Twins win OR the White Sox lose and the Cleveland Indians lose. Whichever team finishes second in the AL Central will be the No. 4 seed, or the second-place team with the best record. The second-place team in the Central is guaranteed to have a better record than the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays, the two teams fighting it out for second in the East, and the AL West's Houston Astros, who are locked into the No. 6 seed as the second-place team with the worst record.
No. 7 seed: The White Sox lose and the Indians win. The third-place team in the Central will grab the first of the AL's two wild card spots, with a better record than whichever team between the Yankees and Blue Jays finishes third in the East.
More of a visual learner? Take a gander at this well-done breakdown, which also outlines who the White Sox would play under various scenarios. Note that there's still three levels of tiebreakers the Yankees and Blue Jays would have to go through to determine who is the No. 5 seed and who is the No. 8 seed, so it is indeed possible for a fourth-seeded White Sox team to see the Blue Jays in the first round.
Got all that?
There's a ton that can play out Sunday, so just sit back and watch. To get to an AL Central championship, their first since 2008, and as high a seed as possible, it all has to start with a White Sox win over the Cubs.