Hahn says Sox are 'fully capable' of winning division

August 23rd, 2022

This story was excerpted from Scott Merkin's White Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CHICAGO -- The White Sox arrived in Baltimore on Monday night for a three-game series with a 62-60 record, sitting three games behind the Guardians in the American League Central with exactly 40 to play.

Despite amassing a 27-21 mark since the start of July, the White Sox arguably have been one of the biggest disappointments of the season considering the lofty preseason expectations put upon this talented crew. But general manager Rick Hahn, the primary architect of the rebuild that led to two straight playoff appearances, believes the full story of ’22 has not been told.

That point was made clear by Hahn during our conversation last Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field, prior to the left knee injuries sustained by catcher on Saturday and right-hander in the first inning of Monday’s 6-4 loss to the Royals.

“I still think we are fully capable of winning a championship, absolutely,” Hahn said. “There was some concern that last year’s team jumped out to too great of a lead and sort of coasted in the second half, and when we got to the postseason, we had a little trouble flipping the switch and getting back to that high level of competitiveness.

“This year we are going to be tested all the way throughout. If we are fortunate to pull this thing off, then we are going to enter the postseason having been battle tested and fully prepared for the challenges of October. We’ll see if that puts us in a better spot.”

During our 10-minute conversation, Hahn pointed to the Atlanta Braves, a franchise he often mentioned as a model during the rebuild -- not only their path to the 2021 World Series championship, but their run of 14 consecutive division titles from 1991 to 2005.

“Last year you saw an Atlanta team that scuffled for a good four-plus months,” Hahn said. “They wound up as the [third] seed, they were hot at the right time, and went on a run and won a championship.

“Use a hockey analogy: shots on goal. So part of this, the goal of the rebuild, was to get into the postseason as many times as possible, and how healthy you are, how hot you are at the time, how well you are playing at the time, those are factors. Those are huge factors in terms of October success.”

Don’t for a second think Hahn looks at the remaining six weeks of the season with unabashed optimism. He’s a realist, saying the organization isn’t “presuming a damn thing,” as the Guardians and Twins certainly aren’t ceding the division because the White Sox seem better on paper.

Plenty of work must be done. If the team comes up short, there will be many unsatisfied people inside the organization, let alone within the passionate White Sox fan base.

“It’s a real challenge for us,” Hahn said. “But given our expectations at the start of the year and the talent we field now, we would all be disappointed if we fell short. I don’t think anyone in that room would walk out of there not feeling like we missed an opportunity.”