CHICAGO -- It stands to reason that a 99-loss season would carry more disappointment than joy, as the Chicago White Sox came nowhere near expectations in 2013.
The Detroit Tigers were expected to be the class of the American League Central, but the White Sox figured to at least put up more of a fight than they did. And when it came to the White Sox's fight, the Cleveland Indians saw none of it while dominating the season series in historic proportions.
The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline presented mental challenges as the White Sox plummeted toward rock bottom in a miserable season, but reason for hope arrived in the first of multiple player acquisitions over the next six months that were designed to reshape an aging and flawed roster.
5. Dressed to impress: You know it's a bad year when the alternate uniforms are a highlight. The White Sox used home Sunday games to sport their "Winning Ugly" duds from the 1983 season, creating a new adage that if you can't play well, you might as well look good. The uniforms were a hit with the players as well, with Jake Peavy electing to wear them for what he expected to be his last outing with the White Sox. The White Sox actually earned a 7-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers in that July 25 game. Peavy was traded five days later.
4. Pick six: Alex Rios went on a hit parade on July 9 at Detroit, collecting six hits in a nine-inning game to tie an American League and a White Sox record. The season was long lost at that point, but the offensive uprising provided at least a little bit of convincing for trade suitors that Rios could help their cause. On Aug. 9, the White Sox moved Rios to the Texas Rangers in a deal that brought them speedy infielder Leury Garcia, while also providing $16 million in current and future salary relief.
3. Spending plan: Shedding salary was key in opening the checkbook again to sign Cuban slugger Jose Abreu. Sure, the jury is still out on the power hitter, but many reports say he grades out as a better overall hitter than both Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig. His signing would not have come without unloading massive amounts of cash from the Rios and Jake Peavy trades, not to mention the expiring contracts of guys such as Gavin Floyd and Jesse Crain, and the pay reduction that came from Paul Konerko's new one-year deal. Not only were the White Sox able to take a chance on Abreu at $68 million, they are also poised to spend far less than they did in 2014, leaving them more room to rebuild the roster in the near future.
2. Setting sale: So much for that bounce year in 2013 that some predicted after Chris Sale dramatically increased his innings total the previous season. The staff ace went from 192 innings in 2012 to 214 1/3 this past season while turning in a nearly identical 3.07 ERA as he did the year before (3.05). He finished fifth in the Cy Young Award voting despite his 11-14 record that was mostly run-support influenced, and his four complete games were tied for the AL lead. Add to all that Sale’s two scoreless innings in the All-Star Game as he became the first White Sox pitcher to post a victory in the contest since Mark Buehrle in 2005.
1. Let the rebuild begin: Sifting through the rubble of their lost season, the White Sox's front office was able to cobble together some remaining valuable pieces and use them to start over. Although other deals already had been made, the rebuild really started to take shape July 30 when Avisail Garcia arrived, from the division rival Detroit Tigers no less, with the White Sox sending Peavy to the Boston Red Sox in a three-team deal. Garcia settled in quickly, delivering a .304 batting average in 42 games with a .447 slugging percentage. His 21 RBIs over the final two months projected out to 81 over a full season, not bad on a team that struggled to put together scoring threats.
5. Cleveland rocked: In winning only twice against the Indians in 19 chances, the White Sox posted their worst record and most loses against Cleveland in a season-series. Thanks to the White Sox, the Indians were actually in playoff contention late in the season. The low point during a 14-game losing streak to the Indians: Dropping a doubleheader by scores of 19-10 and 9-8 with the agony lasting 7 hours, 53 minutes to set a major league record for time in an 18-inning twinbill.
4. Empty-handed Quintana: Pitcher Jose Quintana is a prime example of why it's dangerous to judge a pitcher by his win-loss record. The left-hander was 9-7 over 33 starts, leaving him with an American League record 17 no-decisions, despite posting an impressive 3.51 ERA. Blame a lack of run support for his issues. How bad was it? Three separate times in 2013 he delivered seven scoreless innings only to be left with a no-decision each time. In June, he became the first pitcher in American League history to start six games in a month and not get a decision in any of the outings.
3. Leaky defense: The best defense in the major leagues in 2012 was nearly the worst in 2013 as the White Sox finished with a .980 fielding percentage (121 errors), a year after posting a .9883 mark (70 errors). The White Sox's 2013 fielding percentage left them 29th in baseball with only the Houston Astros (.979) worse. The White Sox were nearly the first team since the 1915 Philadelphia A's to go from the best fielding percentage one year to the worst in the next season.
2. Aches and pains: Before the season started, the White Sox used the disabled list less than anybody in baseball over the previous 12 seasons, and the next best team in the category wasn't even close. Apparently the law of averages caught up with them in 2013. Injuries to Floyd and Crain provided challenges for the pitching staff, while position players Gordon Beckham, Dayan Viciedo and Konerko all lost time. The White Sox used the disabled list 13 times during the season. Konerko mainly dealt with a lower back problem but actually had multiple issues that led to 14 fewer home runs and 21 fewer RBIs than in 2012, and a whopping 19 home runs and 51 RBIs fewer than he had in 2011.
1. Broken bats: The firing of hitting coach Jeff Manto hardly came as a surprise after the White Sox coughed and sputtered their way to the 11th worst batting average (.249) in the AL, the 14th worst on-base percentage (.302) and the 13th worst slugging percentage (.378). They were also last in walks with 411. Always a team that could knock the ball out of the park when it had to, the White Sox finished with 148 home runs, with only the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals posting a lower total. It's no surprise that the White Sox's rebuild has included power guys such as Garcia, Abreu and Matt Davidson.