R.I.P., 2012 Chicago White Sox
It was fun while it lasted for the 2012 White Sox, but now their time has come. Let us mourn them.
The 2012 White Sox made a surprising run at the AL Central crown, but now their luck has run out. Yes, the Sox have been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Now it is time to eulogize them. Feel free to dab at your running mascara while saying nice things ...
What went right
The Sox improved upon last year's win total and remained in contention until the calendar flipped to October. They also have three players with legitimate designs on Comeback-Player-of-the-Year honors: Alex Rios, Adam Dunn and Jake Peavy each defied expectations and recent history in a big way. Rookie manager Robin Ventura provided a steady hand and a welcome antidote to Ozzie Guillen's volatile ways, and A.J. Pierzynski enjoyed a career year at the plate. As well, young Chris Sale had a wildly successful transition from reliever to starter. Paul Konerko soldiered on with another fine season. Oh, and Philip Humber threw a perfect game.
What went wrong
The middle infielders struggled badly at the plate. John Danks was ineffective and then injured, and young Addison Reed was inconsistent at best as closer. Dayan Viciedo posted a sub-.300 OBP. As a team they ranked just ninth in the 14-team AL in fewest runs allowed. What else doomed the Sox? The offense utterly collapsed down the stretch. As well, Chicago went just 6-12 head-to-head against the Tigers, and they went 11-17 for the month of September. Despite their underdog status, it's worth remembering that the White Sox opened the season with the 11th-highest payroll in baseball, second only to Detroit in the AL Central.
MVP: Pierzynski. While the Sox have a number of candidates for this honor, their catcher stands above all. Besides manning the most demanding position on the diamond, Pierzynski is slugging .501 and has 27 homers to his credit.
LVP: Humber. Yes, he had that perfecto, but the overall numbers were just awful: 6.44 ERA in 102.0 innings pitched. In those 102 frames, Humber managed to allow 23 homers. He's a candidate to be non-tendered this offseason.
MLB free agents to be: C A.J. Pierzynski
The Sox have about $20 million coming off the books headed into the offseason, but they must decide whether to re-up with Pierzynski. As noted, he'll be coming off an outstanding season at the plate, but he'll likely be seeking a multi-year deal. The Sox may be tempted to give the job to Tyler Flowers and allow Pierzynski to walk.
They'll almost certainly pass on their $22-million option on Peavy and instead pay the $4-million buyout. That, in turn, means that they'll need rotation help (in addition to hoping for better health from Danks). Similarly, they must decide whether they want to bring back third baseman and deadline addition Kevin Youkilis on a $13-million option.
Of course, the big question is whether the White Sox will alter their approach now that Rick Hahn is the GM and Kenny Williams is a VP. Williams favored the bold move whenever possible and generally eschewed any kind of rebuilding process. Will that continue?
Ridiculously premature prediction for 2013
Sox put up another fight but finish with fewer wins in 2013 than they had in 2012.