Just one year after the Boston Red Sox captured their first world championship in 86 years, the Chicago White Sox ended an 88-year drought by winning the World Series in 2005. Breaking the “curse” supposedly brought on by the “Black Sox” scandal of 1919, the White Sox captured the Central Division title, breezed through the American League playoffs, and then swept the Houston Astros in their first World Series appearance since 1959.
The White Sox posted a league-best record of 99-63 during the regular season, en route to replacing the Minnesota Twins atop the A.L. Central standings. The vastly improved Cleveland Indians finished second in the division, six games back, while the Twins slumped to third, a full 16 games off the pace.
The White Sox combined timely hitting with solid defense and the league’s best pitching staff to claim their first division title in five years. Chicago’s deep starting rotation included four pitchers who won at least 14 games. Jon Garland led the team with 18 victories. Mark Buehrle finished 16-8 with an outstanding 3.12 ERA. Resurrecting himself after an earlier failure with the Yankees, Jose Contreras compiled a record of 15-7 and an ERA of 3.61. Freddy Garcia chipped in with 14 victories.
Although not overpowering on offense, the White Sox featured an extremely well-balanced lineup that included seven players who hit at least 15 home runs. Paul Konerko led the attack, finishing first on the team with 40 homers, 100 runs batted in, and 98 runs scored. He received a considerable amount of help from Jermaine Dye and Carl Everett. Dye hit 31 home runs and knocked in 86 runs, while Everett left the yard 23 times and drove in 87 runs. Chicago also had one of the league’s top base-stealers in outfielder Scott Podsednik. Although the speedy left-fielder failed to hit a home run during the regular season, he scored 80 runs and placed second in the league with 59 stolen bases. Aaron Rowand crossed the plate another 77 times and played brilliantly in centerfield.
While the 93-69 record posted by the second-place Indians failed to earn them a spot in the playoffs, it represented a 13-game improvement over the 80-82 mark they registered one year earlier. Cleveland made great advances, both on the mound and at the bat, tying Chicago for the league lead with a team ERA of 3.61 and also placing near the top of the league rankings in most offensive statistical categories.
Cliff Lee anchored the starting rotation, compiling a record of 18-5 and a 3.79 ERA. C.C. Sabathia and Jake Westbrook each won 15 games, and Kevin Millwood posted a league-best 2.86 earned run average, even though he finished just 9-11. Veteran closer Bob Wickman tied for the A.L. lead with 45 saves.
On offense, catcher Victor Martinez hit 20 homers, drove in 80 runs, and batted .305. Centerfielder Grady Sizemore went deep 22 times, knocked in 81 runs, scored 111 others, and batted .289. Designated hitter Travis Hafner scored 94 runs, batted .305, and led the team with 33 home runs and 108 runs batted in.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim captured the Western Division title for the second straight year, finishing 95-67, seven games ahead of runner-up Oakland. Yet, the third-place Rangers, who finished 16 games off the pace, featured the division's most potent offense, leading the American League with 260 home runs and placing third with 865 runs scored. Texas featured two of the league's top hitters in shortstop Michael Young and first baseman Mark Teixeira. Young hit 24 home runs, drove in 91 runs, scored 114 others, and topped the circuit with 221 hits and a .331 batting average. Teixeira batted .301, scored 112 runs, led the league with 370 total bases, and placed among the leaders with 43 home runs and 144 runs batted in.
Although the second-place Athletics lacked the Rangers’ offensive firepower, they remained in the division race for much of the year primarily on the strength of their outstanding starting pitching. Oakland’s rotation included five double-digit winners, with Barry Zito and Dan Haren leading the way with 14 victories apiece. Meanwhile, A.L. Rookie of the Year Huston Street helped solidify the bullpen by saving 23 games, winning five others, and compiling a brilliant 1.72 ERA.
The division-winning Angels also lacked a powerful offense, placing near the middle of the league rankings in most offensive categories. Chone Figgins, Garret Anderson, and Vladimir Guerrero were the team’s primary offensive threats. Figgins batted .290, scored 113 runs, and led the league with 62 stolen bases. Anderson hit 17 homers and drove in 96 runs. Guerrero earned a third-place finish in the A.L. MVP voting by hitting 32 home runs, knocking in 108 runs, scoring 95 others, and batting .317.
The Angels’ greatest strength lay in their pitching staff, which placed third in the league with a 3.68 team ERA. Bartolo Colon served as staff ace, winning the Cy Young Award by leading all A.L. hurlers with 21 victories. John Lackey finished second on the team with 14 wins, while Paul Byrd and Ervin Santana each posted 12 victories. Meanwhile, Anaheim’s bullpen took a backseat to no one’s. Promoted to the role of closer during the off-season, Francisco Rodriguez struck out 91 batters in 67 innings of work, and he tied for the league lead with 45 saves. Setup man Scot Shields won 10 games, saved seven others, and compiled a 2.75 ERA. Brendan Donnelly picked up another nine victories in relief.
While the White Sox and Angels won their respective divisions with relative ease, the Yankees and Red Sox battled right down to the wire for supremacy in the A.L. East. New York clinched the division title on the next-to-last day of the regular season with an 8-4 victory over Boston at Fenway Park. Although the two clubs concluded the campaign with identical 95-67 records, the Yankees earned a first-place finish by posting a winning record against the Red Sox in their head-to-head competition. However, Boston advanced to the postseason as the junior circuit’s wild-card representative.
Two very evenly matched teams, New York and Boston possessed similar strengths and weaknesses. Both clubs featured outstanding offenses, but only mediocre pitching staffs. The Yankees placed ninth in the league with a team ERA of 4.52, while the Red Sox finished 11th in the circuit with a mark of 4.74. Meanwhile, the Red Sox topped the circuit with 910 runs scored and a .281 team batting average, and they also finished fifth with 199 home runs. The Yankees placed second in the league with 886 runs scored, a .276 team batting average, and 229 home runs.
With Curt Schilling injured much of the year, Tim Wakefield and David Wells established themselves as Boston’s most consistent starting pitchers. Wakefield led the team with 16 victories, while Wells finished right behind him with 15 wins.
Randy Johnson was New York’s most reliable starter, leading the club with 17 victories, a 3.79 ERA, 211 strikeouts, and 226 innings pitched. Mariano Rivera continued to anchor the Yankee bullpen, saving 43 games, winning seven others, and compiling an exceptional 1.38 ERA.
On offense, catcher Jason Varitek hit 22 homers and drove in 70 runs for the Sox. Shortstop Edgar Renteria batted .276 and scored 100 runs. Centerfielder Johnny Damon batted .316, scored 117 runs, and collected 197 hits. Left-fielder Manny Ramiriz earned a fourth-place finish in the A.L. MVP voting by batting .292, scoring 112 runs, and placing among the league leaders with 45 home runs and 144 runs batted in. Finishing second in the balloting was David Ortiz, who batted .300, led the league with 148 runs batted in, and placed among the leaders with 47 home runs, 119 runs scored, and a .604 slugging average.
Edging out Ortiz for MVP honors was Alex Rodriguez, who posted monster numbers for the first-place Yankees. Rodriguez batted .321, knocked in 130 runs, and led the league with 48 home runs, 124 runs scored, and a .610 slugging average. Jason Giambi, Derek Jeter, Hideki Matsui, and Gary Sheffield also had extremely productive years for New York. Giambi hit 32 homers and drove in 87 runs. Jeter batted .309 and finished among the league leaders with 202 hits and 122 runs scored. Matsui hit 23 homers, knocked in 116 runs, scored 108 others, and batted .305. Sheffield hit 34 long balls, drove in 123 runs, and scored another 104.
Somewhat surprisingly, both the Yankees and Red Sox were eliminated from the postseason tournament in the very first round. The Yankees lost their Division Series matchup with the Angels in five games, while the White Sox swept the Red Sox in three straight games. The White Sox then breezed past the Angels in the ALCS, needing only five games to dispose of them. Although Paul Konerko earned ALCS MVP honors by hitting two homers and driving in seven runs, the true star of the Series ended up being Chicago’s starting rotation, which tossed four consecutive complete-game victories in closing out the Angels.
The White Sox continued their hot streak against the Houston Astros in the World Series, sweeping their National League counterparts in four straight games. Nevertheless, the Fall Classic turned out to be an extremely competitive one, since three of the four contests went right down to the final at-bat.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• March 17 - Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, and Jose Canseco appeared before the House Government Reform Committee to discuss the topic of performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. Canseco identified McGwire and Palmeiro as steroid users in his book, Juiced. McGwire declined to answer questions under oath, stating repeatedly, “I’m not here to talk about the past. I’m here to be positive about this subject.” On the other hand, Sosa and Palmeiro both denied ever having used PEDs.
• November 24 - On Thanksgiving evening, the Boston Red Sox announced a trade with the Florida Marlins that netted them third baseman Mike Lowell and pitchers Josh Beckett and Guillermo Mota for minor league prospects shortstop Hanley Ramírez and pitchers Aníbal Sánchez, Jesús Delgado and Harvey García.
• On Opening Day, Baltimore's Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro became the first pair of teammates to have at least 500 career home runs apiece.
• On July 15, Palmeiro collected his 3,000th hit to become the fourth major league player with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.
• On August 1, Palmeiro's glory turned to shame when Major League Baseball suspended him for 10 games for failing a drug test.
• Jackie Robinson posthumously received the Congressional Gold Medal – the highest honor Congress can bestow.
• Minnesota's Johan Santana compiled a 2.87 ERA and led the American League with 238 strikeouts.
• The total of 260 home runs amassed by the Texas Rangers fell just four homers shy of the major league record set by Seattle in 1997.
• The American League extended its All-Star Game winning streak to eight with a 7-5 win in Detroit's Comerica Park.
• The Kansas City Royals lost 19 consecutive games at one point during the season – the longest such streak in the majors since 1988.
• The Hall of Fame inducted Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg.
• At age 29, Alex Rodriguez became the youngest player to reach 400 home runs.
- Paul Konerko won the ALCS MVP
- Jermaine Dye won the Babe Ruth Award
- Bartolo Colon won the Cy Young
- David Ortiz won the Hank Aaron Award
- Ozzie Guillen won the Mgr of the year
- Alex Rodriguez won the MVP
- Mariano Rivera won the Rolaids Relief
- Huston Street won the Rookie of the Year
- Bartolo Colon won the TSN Pitcher of the Year
- 2005 ALCS, 2005 ALDS1, 2005 ALDS2, 2005 World Series, Aaron Rowand, Alex Rodriguez, American League, Barry Zito, Bartolo Colon, Bob Wickman, Brendan Donnelly, C.C. Sabathia, Carl Everett, Chicago White Sox, Chone Figgins, Cliff Lee, Danny Haren, David Ortiz, David Wells, Derek Jeter, Edgar Renteria, Ervin Santana, Francisco Rodriguez, Freddy Garcia, Garret Anderson, Gary Sheffield, Grady Sizemore, Hideki Matsui, Huston Street, Jake Westbrook, Jason Giambi, Jason Varitek, Jermaine Dye, Johan Santana, John Lackey, Johnny Damon, Jon Garland, Jose Contreras, Kevin Millwood, Manny Ramirez, Mariano Rivera, Mark Buehrle, New York Yankees, Paul Byrd, Paul Konerko, Rafael Palmeiro, Randy Johnson, Sammy Sosa, Scot Shields, Scott Podsednik, Tim Wakefield, Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, Vladimir Guerrero