The Chicago White Sox entered the 2016 season with hopes of reaching the postseason. The club bolted out to an 8-2 start, and reached 23-10 in early May when they held a six game lead in the AL Central Division.
But over the next six weeks the Chisox collapsed, going 10-26 and failing to win three games in a row again until mid-June.
In the end, the South Siders finished at 78-84 and in fourth place in the division, a distant 16.5 games in back of the eventual AL pennant-winning Cleveland Indians.
To make matters worse, they have effectively ceded the hearts of much of the city to their crosstown rivals over on the North Side, the World Series champion Chicago Cubs.
The White Sox received a strong power season from new third baseman Todd Frazier. The trade acquisition from the Cincinnati Reds switched leagues and banged a team-high 40 homers. He also drove in 98 runs, scored 89, and stole 15 bags.
First baseman Jose Abreu hit for .293/.353/.468 with 25 homers and 100 RBI. Left fielder Melky Cabrera hit for a .296 average with 86 RBI.
On the mound, ace lefty Chris Sale is the subject of numerous trade rumors. He went 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA and 1.037 WHIP. Sale produced a 233/45 K:BB ratio while allowing just 190 hits in 226.2 innings over 32 starts. He was an AL All-Star for a fifth time.
Fellow lefty starter Jose Quintana joined Sale on that AL All-Star team. He won 13 games with a 3.20 ERA and 1.163 WHIP while allowing 192 hits over 208 innings with a 181/50 K:BB ratio.
A big free agent signee back in December of 2014, closer David Robertson registered 37 saves. In 62 games he produced a 75/32 K:BB ratio over 62.1 innings.
Selected as the top player on the Sox this season was right fielder Adam Eaton. The 27-year old hit for a .284/.362/.428 slash line. He slammed 14 homers with 59 RBI, 29 doubles, nine triples, 91 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.
His 6.2 WAR mark led the club, and he was a Gold Glove Award finalist for the second time. Far and away the club’s top defender, Eaton was runner-up to Gold Glove winner Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox for the Fielding Bible Award.
A late September play in which he crashed into the center field wall at U.S. Cellular Field in running down a drive by the Cleveland Indians’ Roberto Perezhighlighted perfectly his defensive skills and attitude.
“Whenever you meet the wall, it’s never fun, but you have to blame Perez for putting me in that situation to make a decision,”Eaton said per Colleen Kane for the Chicago Tribune. “Instead of choosing my body, I chose my team. People can curse me for it, but the day that I back pedal and let the ball hit off the wall is the day I’m going to quit baseball.”
“Either the team can like it that I hustle, run into walls and put my body on the line for my teammates or they can just — I guess it is what it is. I couldn’t care less.”
It’s partially for that team-first attitude, but also for his outstanding defensive play while still contributing with the bat that Adam Eaton is the 2016 Chicago White Sox Player of the Year.