We could go on at length over what wasn’t good about the White Sox in 2016. Off-the-field drama, an unpopular name change for their ballpark and a fourth consecutive losing season that sets the stage for a possible managerial change.
But all was not completely lost. Let’s raise a half-full glass to 10 good things that happened, many of which bode well for 2017.
1Rookie shortstop Tim Anderson: The 2013 first-round draft choice was called up on June 10 and may have exceeded expectations, batting .284 with his 33rd multiple-hit game (including his ninth home run) in Friday’s 7-3 win against the Twins. Anderson’s low walk total (12), on-base percentage (.305) and strikeouts (113) are worries, but concerns about his defense have been allayed. He figures to get even better.
2Chris Sale: Sixth, fifth, third and fourth in Cy Young Award voting in his four years as a starter, the five-time All-Star could finish higher this November. With one start left Sunday, Sale is 17-9 with a 3.21 ERA and a major-league high six complete games. His unparalleled body of work over the last five years is impressive.
3Adam Eaton: Moved to right field for most of season, he played like a Gold Glover while posting a .285/.362/.430 slash line, 14 homers, nine triples, 29 doubles, 59 RBI and 13 stolen bases, all of which have made him the Sox’ best WAR (wins above replacement) performer at 6.2 (per Baseball Reference). He is ranked at or near the top in defensive runs saved and is first with 18 outfield assists.
4Jose Quintana: Like Sale, the 27-year-old lefty has also been consistently good in five seasons but this year he made a deserved trip to the All-Star Game, where he logged a scoreless inning. Because of better run support, he enjoyed his first winning record (13-12) to go with a career-best 3.20 ERA.
5The draft: In addition to first-round catcher Zack Collins and right-hander Zack Burdi, third-round outfielder Alex Call (.444) and fourth-round outfielder Jameson Fisher (.436) were high on-base performers for Great Falls (Rookie), and second-round righty Alec Hansen ranked second on Baseball America’s Pioneer League top-20 prospects list. Lefty Bernardo Flores, a seventh-rounder, was 20th. It’s early, but first year scouting director Nick Hostetler’s first class could be the best in years.
6Todd Frazier: Is two RBI short of becoming the sixth Sox to record 40 homers and 100 RBI. Frazier’s career-low .227 average, struggle with runners in scoring position and career-high 157 strikeouts took the shine off, but his defense solidified third base, and he provided clubhouse presence, leadership and humor from the day he arrived at spring training. He has missed only four games.
7Jose Abreu’s second half: After a lackluster first four months which factored big in the Sox’ ranking near the bottom of the American League in offense, Abreu took off on Aug. 2 and has hit .339 since then. Was hitting .294 with 25 homers and collected 99th RBI with his 32nd double Friday.
8Carlos Rodon’s second half: The second-year lefty, 23, is 7-2 with a 3.11 ERA in August and September. He struck out the first seven Twins he faced Friday to tie the AL and franchise record to start a game held by Joe Cowley in 1986.
9Nate Jones: The most trusted reliever in the bullpen (5-3, 2.33 ERA, 10.3 strikeout rate), the eighth-inning specialist has 28 holds, two shy of Barry Jones’ franchise record.
10The Matt Albers game: Batting left-handed against the Mets on June 1, Albers broke a 1-1 tie in the 13th inning by launching a double to the wall, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly. It was Albers’ first at-bat since 2009. He then earned the save. For pure entertainment, it was the best moment 2016 had to offer.
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