White Sox All-Decade Team: Outfield and DH

Eaton good: He may have been a star on the South Side, but this crash test dummy of a ballplayer just had a helluva World Series for Washington. (@si_mlb)

If you thought there were old familiar names in the infield, just wait for the outfield. The top three players in SSHP’s vote were Adam Eaton, Alex Rios, and Carlos Quentin. You all guessed the first two correctly, but the third will be a surprise. Without further ado, here are the best outfielders for the White Sox in the 2010s.

Outfielder No. 1 — Adam Eaton

Eaton was the obvious choice. He was with the White Sox for three years and he played extremely well. His play was apparently good enough to net a huge prospect haul from the Nationals: Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López, and Dane Dunning. However, Eaton was an integral piece to winning the 2019 World Series, so the Nationals are in no way miffed they parted ways with those three pitchers. Eaton was a White Sox from 2014-16 in what was probably one of the more toxic clubhouses in baseball — Ozzie Guillén, of all people, has said nobody liked Eaton. Of course, the most memorable Eaton moment was when he called Drake LaRoche a leader — yep, a pre-teen, a leader — in an MLB clubhouse. So, something is clearly wrong between the ears, but his play for the White Sox was great. He had 13.5 fWAR in three seasons with the Sox, including a 5.9 fWAR year in 2016, his last. He finished in 19th place in MVP voting that year, largely because his defense improved significantly with a move to right field. Each of his three seasons were in the top five for single-season fWAR among Sox outfielders over the decade, including the very best in fWAR season (2016). Unfortunately for Eaton, his success on the field will not be the first recollection of his time in Chicago.

Outfielder No. 2 — Alex Rios

Yes, you read that right, Alex Rios and all his inconsistencies placed second on the list of best White Sox outfielders of the decade. Over his 3 1/2 years this decade with the Sox, he collected 8.1 fWAR. He started out the decade with a much-improved 3.3 fWAR mark compared to his half-season in 2009. However, Rios gonna Rios, and he flopped in 2011 —with a minimum of 300 plate appearances, Rios’ 2011 fWAR of -1.4 was the worst of any White Sox outfielder this decade. However, Rios still somehow climbed back up to second among all South Side outfielders in the 2010s, and I am not sure if that says more about Rios or the other outfielders the Sox had the past 10 years. The next season was much better, though, for Rios and the White Sox; in 2012, his fWAR (4.0) was the third-best in a single season among all White Sox OFs in the 2010s. The following year, the Sox shipped Rios off to Texas for Leury García, who has not come anywhere close to Rios’ fWAR value since joining the White Sox. Like Eaton, Rios would also go on to win a World Series (with the Kansas City Royals) but unlike Eaton, his value dropped precipitously.

Outfielder No. 3 — Alejandro De Aza

A lot of old and fun names will appear in this series, and Alejandro De Aza probably takes the cake. The best years of his late-blooming career were with the White Sox from 2011-13. He was neither an offensive or defensive juggernaut, but he was just average enough at both to be about a two-win player per fWAR during his prime. De Aza had some speed, a little pop, and good enough bat-to-ball skills to be an everyday starter for about three seasons. During his prime years, he slashed .278/.343/.764, which is not too shabby. He actually had more power than I remembered, even having a 17-homer season in 2013 (maybe that year is just forgettable for some reason). The Sox got all they could out of him during those three years and shipped him off to Baltimore during the 2014 season, where he went on a 20-game tear. Unfortunately for De Aza, that was his curtain call, and he became more or less a replacement-level player after that.

Designated Hitter — Paul Konerko

Did I add the DH spot to shoehorn in a White Sox all-time great? In short, duh, who wouldn’t? Paulie ended his career with the White Sox in a not-so-great fashion, at least in terms of his play. In his last two seasons, Konerko collected -2.5 worth of fWAR, so he should be closer to 30 overall for his career. However, from 2010-12 he was still pretty good. Konerko placed fifth in MVP voting in 2010 and then 13th in 2011 (boy, would Phil Rogers be mad about that now). He also went to the All-Star game in each of those seasons, thanks to a slash line of .304/.384/.530 for a 144 OPS+. That three-year stretch was his late-career resurgence, but Paulie fell hard after that. He is now up for the Hall of Fame for the first time. He will not get in, and may not survive longer than one year, but it would be nice to see him stay on the ballot so he and Mark Buehrle can share space in voting for the 2021 class.

Next up: Pitching!

Weigh in on the best White Sox of the decade

Not only is the 2019 season officially over after the Washington Nationals won the World Series, but so is this baseball decade. Some of you probably do not remember most of the players for the White Sox in the 2010s (I mean, who can blame you, though), but some rose above the rest.

This thought exercise is inspired by a relatively recent Effectively Wild podcast from FanGraphs with hosts Meg Rowley (FanGraphs managing editor), Ben Lindbergh (writer at The Ringer and author), and Sam Miller (writer at ESPN). They guessed the top five hitters and pitchers of this decade in terms of fWAR, and then checked to see if their guesses were correct. Now, since South Side Hit Pen is of course a White Sox site, we are going to come at this with a Sox angle. We will be creating our own White Sox lineup of the decade (2010-19).

Now, I have to warn you, it is not pretty, and the White Sox record over the decade should tell you why.

The Sox as a team only had two winning records, in 2010 and 2012. Their overall record was 743-876. They never went to the playoffs, obviously, the first time the Sox missed the playoffs for an entire decade since the 1970s. The Sox only had 13 different players selected to the All-Star game (Chris Sale’s multiple selections only count as one), seven hitters and six pitchers.

The big theme of the decade, maybe besides mediocrity and then the rebuild, was honoring White Sox past. The Sox had eight former employees get into the Hall of Fame: Robert Alomar (2011), Ron Santo (2012), Frank Thomas (2014), Tony La Russa (2014), Ken Griffey Jr. (2016), Tim Raines (2017), Frank Thomas (2018), and Harold Baines (2019). A great group of guys, but most from a distant White Sox past. The organization retired a few numbers to help boost some meager attendance as well. Thomas (No. 35, 2010), Paul Konerko (No. 14, 2015), and Mark Buerhle (No. 56, 2017). Again, those honors don’t just remind fans of how successful the distant past was, but how utterly bad the recent past is. So, as you will see, this is not a great group of players to choose from for an All-Decade lineup.

I implore you all to try and create a lineup yourself before looking at the polls. When I did this, I found that I couldn’t even remember a lot of players from 2010-13, even some of the better ones. But if not, or when you are done, choose which player(s) you think had the highest fWAR for the White Sox at each position in the polls below.

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