Game Over: The 2016 Chicago White Sox

Sorry, Chicago White Sox, your World Series trophy is in another castle. But hey, maybe Drake LaRoche, can find you. He has time.

The White Sox had a strange season. They were really good, then really bad. Chris Sale had baseball’s most notable tantrum of the season while also being one of the best pitchers in the league. The White Sox could be winners next season as they’ll bring back a solid nucleus, but they have work to do before they can truly compete in the AL Central.

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Like we’ll do with every eliminated team in our Game Over series, we’re about to examine what went wrong for the White Sox, what went right, what’s the best 2016 memory, what they need to fix and what the future might hold.

The White Sox started out hot but like Mario's fireball, that quickly went away. (Yahoo Sports)
The White Sox started out hot but like Mario's fireball, that quickly went away. (Yahoo Sports)

WHAT WENT WRONG
First things first, the White Sox weren’t the worst team in baseball. They hit a horrible tailspin in May and were never able to turn it back around. In the 27 games between May 14 and June 12, the White Sox were 7-20, which transformed them from a first-place team with a five-game lead to a team that was 4.5 out. Other things went wrong along the way, sure — they didn’t have a single month over .500 besides April — that one stretch was crippling. (Mike Oz)

WHAT WENT RIGHT
By far one of the best things that happened to the White Sox is that (most of) the pre-season strife surrounding Adam LaRoche and his son Drake didn’t bleed into the regular season. In fact, they started off red hot. Things, uh, didn’t quite stay that way, but it wasn’t a total loss. Young Jose Abreu had another stellar season, and Melky Cabrera improved in his second year with the White Sox. Todd Frazier’s .226 average means he didn’t do a lot of hitting, but when he did, they were often home runs. He holds the team lead in homers with 39, which is tied for seventh in all of baseball. And despite his mid-season jersey issues, Chris Sale was still the best pitcher on the White Sox, and remains one of the best in baseball. He and Jose Quintana were a dynamic duo, with Quintana having his best year yet with a 3.21 ERA. Despite what happened after their red hot start, there’s a lot for the White Sox to build on. (Liz Roscher)

TOP OF THE FLAGPOLE (aka THEIR BEST MOMENT)
Remember when the White Sox started the year 24-12 with Chris Sale leading the charge? It didn’t get any better than April 15 when Sale pitched a complete-game two-hit shutout in a 1-0 win against the Rays, racking up nine strikeouts. At this point in the season it appeared like Chicago would be a surprise contender for the playoffs and Sale would be the top contender for the AL Cy Young. The former is laughable, but the latter may still happen, and it’s because of dominant performances like this one that’s still a possibility. (Israel Fehr)

CHANGES THEY NEED TO MAKE
After a promising first year under Robin Ventura, it’s become clear the former White Sox star isn’t the answer as manager. Ventura started with 85 wins in 2012, but dropped off to 63, 73 and 76 over the next three seasons. The White Sox probably won’t get to 80 win this season, which is a big disappointment given the internal expectations and the team’s hot start. It’s not all his fault, of course. Their big picture plan has been all over the map since winning the World Series in 2005. Something has to give though. The easiest solution now and probably the best solution long term is moving on from Ventura. (Mark Townsend)

Is it time to fire Robin Ventura? (AP)
Is it time to fire Robin Ventura? (AP)

WARP TO THE FUTURE
The future mostly arrived last season in the form of shortstop Tim Anderson. While no player in the White Sox’s system can match his upside, Chicago still has a few prospects who could play a role with the big league club next season. Pitcher Carson Fulmer is a likely candidate to open the year in the majors. The 22-year-old struggled in his brief taste of the majors, posting an 8.49 ERA over 11 2/3 innings, but was expected to move fast after being drafted in 2015. Whether he’s a starter or reliever long-term remains a big question.

Spencer Adams also seems close, and could be a back-end starter depending on Fulmer’s role. Despite the fact that he was drafted in June, reliever Zack Burdi seems ticketed for the White Sox’s bullpen in 2017. The team was aggressive with Burdi, promoting him all the way to Triple-A after just a few weeks in the minors. College relievers are usually close to finished products, and the White Sox have shown a willingness move their prospects up the ladder quickly. All signs point to the hard-throwing Burdi making his major-league debut next year. (Chris Cwik)

PREVIOUSLY IN THIS SERIES: Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, Oakland Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!