Wheels: Paul Konerko — yes, that Paul Konerko — once hit an inside-the-park home run. (YouTube)
1917 The World Championship season began in St. Louis, where the Sox battered the Browns, 7-2. Claude ‘‘Lefty’’ Williams picked up the win. Just slightly more than six months later, the Sox would win the World Series, four games to two, over John McGraw and the New York Giants.
1969 The White Sox initiated major league baseball in Seattle as the first home opponent for the expansion Seattle Pilots. The Sox promptly rolled over and died to the new team, 7-0, getting shut out by future Sox pitcher Gary Bell who went the distance. Bell would be traded to the Sox in June.
1982 When the great blizzard hit the Midwest and forced cancellation of a number of games, the White Sox had to open on the road the following week … in New York … with a doubleheader. No problem, as the franchise which had already won a regularly scheduled Opening Day twinbill in 1971, put the wood to the Yankees by winning 7-6 in 12 innings, and then 2-0. It was the start of an eight-game winning streak to open the 1982 campaign, the best start in franchise history.
2000 For a man with no speed, he got around the bases fast enough this time! Paul Konerko hit an inside the park home run against Tampa Bay. It came in the first inning off Esteban Yan and drove in two runs. The Sox won, 13-6.
2011 White Sox utility player Brent Lillibridge belted the franchise’s 10,000th home run when he took a fastball from Oakland’s Dallas Braden and hit it out of U.S. Cellular Field. It came in the fifth inning of a game the Sox eventually lost 2-1 in 10 innings.
Spectacular start: Buehrle didn’t just win to begin 2010, he made a defensive play for the ages. (YouTube)
1960 Shortly before the season opened, the White Sox further decimated their stock of young talent by shipping future All-Star and power-hitting catcher Earl Battey along with future power-hitting All-Star first baseman Don Mincher to the Washington Senators for power-hitting first baseman Roy Sievers.
Sievers gave the Sox some good years, averaging 27 home runs, 92 RBIs and a .295 batting average in two seasons. He had a 21-game hitting streak in 1960 and made the All-Star team in 1961. But Battey, who cried when he was told he was traded, may have won the Sox the pennant in 1964, 1967 or both just by himself (to say nothing of other players shipped out that offseason like Johnny Romano, Norm Cash and Johnny Callison.) Battey would go on to make four All-Star appearances and win three Gold Gloves at catcher. Mincher would become a two-time All-Star.
1974 The White Sox opened the season at home under freezing conditions versus the Angels and Nolan Ryan. The Sox started Wilbur Wood, which prompted broadcaster Harry Caray to comment that the game was “The tortoise against the hare.” This time the hare won, as Ryan and the Angels got an easy 8-2 victory.
The game did have its moments, however. The streaking craze had hit college campuses and on this day a few young ladies in the upper deck decided to partially streak while a young man jumped the outfield fence and ran naked through left field before being hoisted back into the stands by his friends. Sox manager Chuck Tanner had one of the best lines anywhere when asked what he thought about the outfield streaker: “I wasn’t impressed by him.” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink … say no more!)
1977 Literally a few hours before the team was to head north to open the season, owner Bill Veeck traded shortstop Russell “Bucky” Dent to the Yankees. Salary was the reasoning behind the deal, and Veeck’s comment that “I’d trade Dent even-up for any other starting shortstop in the American League” didn’t help matters.
In return the White Sox got outfielder Oscar Gamble, pitcher Bob Polinsky, minor league pitcher LaMarr Hoyt and $200,000. Gamble would be a big part of the 1977 hitting orgy, while Hoyt would have some good seasons with the Sox culminating in the 1983 Cy Young Award.
2004 New Manager Ozzie Guillén figured he had his debut game all wrapped up, as the Sox took a 7-3 lead into the ninth inning at Kansas City. Over the next 20 minutes, the Royals scored six runs to take the game, 9-7. The amazing rally set the modern record for the most runs scored in the ninth inning to win a game on Opening Day.
2010 Mark Buehrle made his eighth Opening Day start, setting the franchise record and breaking the tie he had with Billy Pierce. Buehrle was brilliant in the 6-0 win over Cleveland, but what everyone was talking about after the game was the play he made on a hard-hit ball off the bat of Lou Marson in the fifth inning. Both ESPN and the MLB Network called it the play of the year.
Marson’s shot ricocheted off Buehrle’s leg and ricocheted towards foul ground on the first-base side of the field. Buehrle sprinted off the mound, fielded the ball with his glove and flipped it between his legs to Paul Konerko, who made a barehanded catch to nip Marson by a step. It was simply an incredible play.
Doubling up: Joe Crede drove in the first run of the game with a double to center field. (@TheSoxSide)
While there were 25 hits in this game, there were only four runs. Timely hitting was hard to come by, but the White Sox found just enough, while the Twins did not.
Both teams got off to a slow start offensively, though hitters weren’t exactly overpowered by starters Orlando Hernández and Brad Radke. During the first four innings, nobody scored, though scoring threats were plentiful. In the bottom of the first, the White Sox managed to put runners on the corners with no outs, but Radke escaped the jam. In the top of the second, the Twins put runners on the corners with no outs, but Hernández wiggled out of it. In the fourth, the Twins put runners on first and second, but Michael Cuddyer grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. In the fifth, the Twins put runners on the corners with two outs, but a 1-3 groundout ended it, so the score remained 0-0.
In the bottom of the fifth, the White Sox finally broke the ice. A.J. Pierzynski led off with a single, which set the table for Joe Crede. Crede hit a line drive to deep center, which Torii Hunter made an uncharacteristically poor read on. Initially, Hunter started running in on Crede’s liner, which made it impossible for him to make the catch. Pierzynski scored, and Crede ended up at second. Crede went on to score on a sacrifice fly by Scott Podsednik to make it 2-0.
In the sixth, the Twins squandered a scoring opportunity yet again, and Paul Konerko added an insurance run with a solo homer. Incredibly, Konerko already has seven home runs this season, and he is slashing .260/.315/.700.
The bullpen did a great job holding the Twins’ bats in check, so the White Sox did not need any more insurance. Southpaw Damaso Marte retired the only two batters he faced to record the save, his first of the year. The only hiccup for the bullpen came when Shingo Takatsu allowed a double to Shannon Stewart and a single to Matt LeCroy. LeCroy’s RBI single resulted in the Twins’ only run.
Don’t look now, but after this victory, the White Sox have the best record in the American League (10-4). Meanwhile, the Twins have sole possession of second place in the AL Central (8-6). Tomorrow (April 20, 2005), the White Sox will open a two-game series at Comerica Park, as they will take on the Tigers. Jon Garland and Wil Ledezma will be the probable starting pitchers.
Let’s take a look at a couple of trivia questions, shall we?
Tonight, Orlando Hernández allowed 10 hits but did not allow any runs. No White Sox pitcher has done that since 1984. Who was that 1984 pitcher?
This player, who led the 1983 AL West champions in stolen bases, also led them in postseason hits.
Richard Dotson (To be exact, Dotson allowed 11 hits and somehow escaped every jam unscathed)
Rudy Law (77 stolen bases that year, which is still a franchise record, and it will probably stand for a very long time)
Diamond in the rough: Offense was hard to come by, but Paul Konerko went 2-for-3 with a double, and he scored the only run in today’s victory. (@whitesox_fanly)
Note: With baseball paused for the 2020 season, we’re running some reimagined game recaps in conjunction with NBC Sports Chicago replaying key games of the 2005 White Sox World Series season.
It was a classic pitchers’ duel at US Cellular Field this afternoon, as the White Sox took down Cleveland by a score of 1-0.
White Sox starter Mark Buehrle was on top of his game. Though Cleveland’s hitters only struck out five times in eight innings against him, they struggled to make any kind of sharp contact. Unfortunately, the White Sox’s bats also had trouble, as solving Cleveland starter Jake Westbrook proved to be a difficult task.
The first baserunner of the game for either team was Jermaine Dye, who singled off Westbrook with one out in the second. Dye reached second base on a groundout by Aaron Rowand, but he was stranded at second after A.J. Pierzynski lined out to end the inning. Meanwhile, the first Cleveland baserunner was Victor Martinez, who led off the fifth with a single up the middle. However, that glimmer of hope for Cleveland was dashed on the very first pitch to the next batter, as Aaron Boone grounded into a double play.
The next scoring threat for either team was in the top of the seventh, when Cleveland put runners on first and second with one out. Buehrle fell behind Martinez 2-1, but he made a great pitch to force an easy double play ball to retire the side. As of the seventh-inning stretch, the game was still scoreless. Luckily, the White Sox finally broke through in the bottom half. Slugger Paul Konerko led off with a double into the left field corner for his second hit, becoming the only player with a multi-hit performance. Dye followed by flying out to right, but his fly ball was plenty deep enough to get Konerko to third. Rowand hit a soft grounder to shortstop, but Jhonny Peralta could not handle it, so Konerko scored, and Rowand reached first easily.
The White Sox had a chance to add to the lead, as Rowand stole second, and Pierzynski followed with an infield single (a good play by Cleveland second baseman Ronnie Belliard probably would have gotten A.J. at first, but who cares? A.J. got an infield single to second!) to put runners on the corners. However, Joe Crede grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Fortunately, that run was all the White Sox needed, as Buehrle threw another shutout inning in the eighth, and Shingo Takatsu closed the door with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The White Sox open the season with a 1-0 record, while Cleveland drops to 0-1. Freddy García is the White Sox’s probable starter on Wednesday (April 6, 2005), and he is set to take on Kevin Millwood.
Anyway, before I sign off for the day, enjoy these trivia questions from the future:
Which player got the last White Sox single in 2005?
A variation of today’s Aflac Trivia Question: Which pitcher holds the White Sox record for most wins on Opening Day?
Jermaine Dye, who also got the team’s first single today, as noted earlier.
Mark Buehrle, with four (2002, 2005, 2010, and 2011). Jack McDowell, Billy Pierce, and Chris Sale each had three Opening Day victories with the team.
Dynamic duo: Former teammates Harold Baines and Carlton Fisk led five players into our White Sox Hall of Fame. (Topps)
In a phenomenal show of support and cohesion, a record five players were elected to the South Side Hit Pen White Sox Hall of Fame for 2020.
With more than 1,000 votes cast Joe Jackson (81%), Paul Konerko (79%), Carlton Fisk (79%), Harold Baines (78%) and Ed Walsh (75%) all crossed the bar for induction. Walsh, almost unquestionably the greatest pitcher in White Sox history, gains entry thanks to a rounding up of his 74.528% earned in his third year on the ballot.
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
By virtue of everyone on the ballot getting at least one vote, nobody drops off for that reason next season. In 2021, five new players will enter the ballot, including José Abreu.
Here are the results of the other elections within the third annual Hall of Fame vote:
Pat Seerey has done very poorly in his two stints in the “moment” vote — and is so disrespected that the amateur White Sox historian who compiles these Hall of Fame articles couldn’t even spell his name right on the ballot (OK, so it might have been like 4 a.m.) — so it might be time to remove him from future voting.
Next year, we’ll have another full slate of players eligible for enshrinement, plus these additional categories. Some of the above will sit a year out in an every-other frequency, and perhaps we’ll even invented a new category or two (suggestions are welcome in the comments, as always).
Thanks to all who participated — you’re the ones who make this all a lot of fun! And stay tuned, because at long last our first South Side Hit Pen White Sox Hall of Fame “plaque” will be published on these pages. We’ll continue to unveil our “plaques” to all winners, throughout the year.
2018 White Sox Hall of Fame winners
Frank Thomas (Hall of Fame Player)
Minnie Miñoso (Hall of Fame Player)
Luis Aparicio (Hall of Fame Player)
Nellie Fox (Hall of Fame Player)
Luke Appling (Hall of Fame Player) 2005 (Season)
Bill Veeck (Contributor)
Exploding Scoreboard (Gimmick)
Disco Demolition (Promotion)
Ozzie Guillén (Manager)
2005 World Series Sweep (Moment)
2019 White Sox Hall of Fame winners
Mark Buehrle (Hall of Fame Player) Billy Pierce (Hall of Fame Player)
Eddie Collins (Hall of Fame Player) 1917 (Season)
Nancy Faust (Contributor)
Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye) (Gimmick/Promotion)
Four Straight ALCS Complete Games (2005 Moment)
Mark Buehrle Between-the-Legs (Defensive Play)
Dick Allen (Meteoric Player)
Ozzie Guillén (Character)
Jim Margalus (South Side Sox Member)
The Terminator: Ed Walsh was a badass on the mound. Perhaps his the third time’s the charm for him and the White Sox Hall of Fame. (Wikipedia)
Once upon a time, the Chicago White Sox had a team Hall of Fame — until they decided to put it in mothballs, in favor of an extended gift shop. Now the Sox have a two-story team store, and they have yet to bring the team Hall of Fame back.
We’re tired of waiting, so we’ve established a virtual one. First at South Side Sox, now here at South Side Hit Pen.
Voting is similar to our regular Hall of Fame vote: You are able to choose a maximum of 10 guys from this year’s ballot of 30 nominees. A player will need 75% of the vote to gain enshrinement. If a player receives zero votes (as happened to two players last year), they will be booted off of the ballot for five years.
As an added bonus, there are some fun categories on the ballot, so don’t stop after the player vote!
In 2018, with our inaugural White Sox Hall vote, we enshrined five players: Frank Thomas, Minnie Miñoso, Luis Aparicio, Nellie Fox and Luke Appling. Players need 75% of votes to gain induction, so near-misses included Mark Buehrle (66.7%), Joe Jackson (63.3%), and Paul Konerko (61.4%).
The second year of voting in 2019 landed Buehrle (82.5%), Billy Pierce (75.8%) and Eddie Collins (75.4%) into the Hall, with Ed Walsh’s 68.3% getting him closer to entry.
In 2018, we also enshrined 2005 (Season), Bill Veeck (Contributor), Exploding Scoreboard (Gimmick), Disco Demolition (Promotion), 1991 (Uniform), Ozzie Guillén (Manager), and 2005 World Series Sweep (Moment). In 2019, the extra categories winners included 1917 (Season), Nancy Faust (Contributor), Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye) (Gimmick/Promotion), four straight ALCS complete games (2005 Moment), Mark Buehrle between-the-legs (Defensive Play), Dick Allen (Meteoric Player), Ozzie Guillén (Character) and Jim Margalus (South Side Sox member).
A reminder that the dear departed KenWo wrote the intro and all of the player bios for our inaugural ballot, so the bios Ken wrote that are reprinted for this ballot carry a “— KW” designation, and I’d like to give him a high five for his fun intro here and anything else that has carried over from his hard work in putting together our inaugural ballot in 2018.
You have until February 10 to fill out your ballot, as the 2020 White Sox Hall of Fame class will be announced on February 11.
At the bottom of each category is your ballot, so there’s no off-site voting like in past years. We begin with another 30-player ballot, including five new additions.
Sitaspell, take yer shoes off, and ponder.
Note: aWAR averages Baseball-Reference (bWAR), FanGraphs (fWAR) and Baseball Prospectus (WARP) WAR measures, when available. aaWAR adjusts aWAR to account for lost time due to work stoppage, military service, or institutional racism. Each WAR listed is for White Sox play only.
The White Sox made Baines the No. 1 overall pick in the 1977 draft, and he didn’t disappoint, along with Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Chipper Jones becoming one of the most successful No. 1 picks of all time. Baines knocked in the winning run to clinch the AL West in 1983, ended the longest game in major league history with a walk-off homer in the 25th inning in 1984, and was a constant force in the Sox lineup throughout the lean years of the late 1980s. After being traded to Texas for Sammy Sosa and Wilson Alvarez, Harold had his No. 3 retired when the Rangers returned to Chicago in 1989. Harold would come back to the White Sox in 1996. After being dealt in the White Flag trades of 1997, Baines was again brought back in 2000. He is among the Top 10 all-time in nearly every White Sox offensive category, including runs (eighth), hits (sixth), doubles (fifth), homers (third) and RBI (fourth). His statue sits on the right field concourse. And in 2019, Baines was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame. — KW
Perhaps most famous for being one of the Eight Men Out, Cicotte had a fantastic nine-year run with the Pale Hose. He came to the White Sox early in the 1912 season, after pitching for the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox early in his career. He went 18-11 with a 1.58 ERA in his first full season on the South Side. Cicotte really dialed it up for the World Series-winning 1917 White Sox, when he led the league with 28 wins, a 1.53 ERA and 346 ⅔ innings. After a down 1918 (along with the rest of the White Sox), Cicotte went 29-7 with a 1.82 ERA in 306 ⅔ innings for the 1919 White Sox. In that postseason, he went 1-2 in his three starts, with two complete games and an ERA of 2.91. The knuckleballer went 21-10 in 1920, before admitting to his role in the fix and being banned for life. — KW
George Davis Shortstop (1902, 1904-09) bWAR: 33.0 fWAR: 32.0 WARP: N/A aWAR: 32.5 Last year’s SSS vote: 11% Core Stats: .259/.333/.332, 6 HR, 377 RBI, 162 SB, 109 OPS+
Davis signed with the White Sox in 1902, after a long tenure with the New York Giants, where he was a star hitter. In 1900, he was named manager of the Giants, while he still was a force with the bat. However, the Giants record under his tenure was awful, and Davis ignored the reserve clause to sign a deal with the White Sox in the relatively new American League. In that first season, Davis hit .299/.386/.402 with 34 extra base hits and 93 RBI — in the dead-ball era. After the season, Davis signed a two-year deal to return to the Giants. This angered White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, who filed injunctions that Davis could not play for any team other than the White Sox. The National League owners instructed the Giants to give up Davis’ rights, and the shortstop only appeared in four games for New York in 1903. In 1904, he was back with the Sox, providing good offense for the era, and threw the leather as a great shortstop, en route to a 7.2 WAR season. He matched that output in 1905, and was the best hitter on the “Hitless Wonders” of 1906 who upset the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. Davis hit .308 with three doubles, leading the Sox to their first championship. After that season, age and injuries slowed Davis. His career would end following the 1909 season, when he hit .132 in 28 games. Davis was elected to the Hall of Fame 89 years later, in 1998. — KW
Ray Durham Second Baseman (1995-2002) bWAR: 21.4 fWAR: N/A WARP: 16.5 aWAR: 19.0
aaWAR: 18.9 First year on the White Sox Hall of Fame ballot
Core Stats: .278/.352/.428, 1,246 H, 106 HR, 484 RBI, 219 SB, 102 OPS+
Durham was a steady influence on some perennially-disappointing 1990s White Sox teams, finally breaking through in the postseason in 2000, when he put up a .985 OPS as one of the few South Side hitters who didn’t wilt vs. the Mariners. He finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting in 1995 despite putting up a statistically disappointing season, but would go on to make All-Star teams in 1998 and 2000. Durham’s 5.5 offensive WAR in 1998 ranked ninth in the AL, and he led the league in double plays in both 1998 and 2000. Durham’s closest player comps during his White Sox years were Bobby Grich and Joe Morgan, and a second baseman can’t find better company than that. Apparently Willie Harris and D’Angelo Jiménez waiting in the wings prompted the White Sox to dump Durham and some cash on the Oakland A’s at the trade deadline in 2002 for Jon Adkins. He’d go on to be a very productive player for four more seasons, so that’s a trade fail for Ken Williams.
Urban “Red” Faber spent his entire 20-year career with the White Sox. He won 20-plus games four times. He threw the spitball, which he learned in the minor leagues after he hurt his arm in a longest-throw contest in 1911. Faber went 10-9 in his rookie year, and then improved to 24-14 in 1915. In 1917, Faber went 16-13 with a 1.92 ERA for the champion White Sox. He won games two, five and six (the series clincher) in the 1917 World Series. After war duty cut his 1918 short, Faber’s 1919 season was a struggle due to illness and injury. The righthander only pitched once over the final month of the season, and didn’t appear in the 1919 World Series. His best three seasons were still to come, as from 1920-22 Faber won 69 games and led the league in ERA and complete games twice. At 34 years old, Faber fell to 14-11 in 1923, but managed to pitch for 10 more seasons, going 89-102 during that time. In 1964, Faber was elected to the Hall of Fame as a member of the White Sox. — KW
The Commander was brought in for the 1981 season, as Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn wanted to make a splash as the new owners of the team. Fisk was an All-Star in his first two seasons, and then in 1983 had his best season on the South Side. Pudge led the White Sox pitching staff to a dominant second half and also had a fantastic season with the bat, hitting .289/.355/.518 with 26 dingers as the White Sox made the playoffs for the first time since 1959. In 1985, at age 37, Fisk slugged a career-high 37 homers and knocked in 107 runs. In 1990, at the age of 42, Fisk had another great season, hitting .285/.378/.451 as the White Sox rose from their late-80s ashes to win 94 games and finish second to the Oakland A’s in the AL West. Fisk was an All-Star again in 1991, at age 43, when he hit 18 homers and knocked in 74. Fisk’s last game came on June 22, 1993, which was also Carlton Fisk Day at the ballpark. He became the leader in games caught that day, and was cut from the team a few days later. When he was released, Fisk was the team’s all-time home run leader, and currently ranks fourth, trailing only Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko and Harold Baines. He’s seventh all-time in White Sox RBI. Fisk made the Hall of Fame in 2000 as a member of the Red Sox, although he played more games with the White Sox. Fisk’s No. 72 is retired, and his statue is in center field. — KW
Forster came up with the Sox in 1971, at the age of 19. The next season, Forster threw 100 innings, all out of the pen, and saved 29 games, with a 2.25 ERA and 104 strikeouts in a 3.2 bWAR season. He started 12 games in 1973, going 6-11 with 16 saves and a 3.23 ERA over 172 ⅔ innings. In 1974, Forster led the league in saves with 24 and threw another 134 innings, with one start. The workload caught up to Forster in 1975, as he only managed 37 innings, but he was still effective (2.19 ERA). The Sox tried starting him again in 1976, as he made 16 starts and went 2-12 with a 4.37 ERA. With Forster’s free agency looming, White Sox owner BIll Veeck swapped Forster and Goose Gossage after the season to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Richie Zisk, fueling the 1977 South Side Hit Men. Forster would go on to pitch through 1986, but would never again reach the levels as he did in the early 70’s with the Sox. — KW
You can call him Joe, or you can call him Joel, but you doesn’t have to call him Johnson. An All-America Second Teamer out of Oklahoma State, Horlen was signed by the White Sox in their magical year of 1959. The native Texan would hit the majors two years later, and pitch on the South Side for a decade. By 1964, he would enter the White Sox’s starting rotation for good, finishing the year second AL ERA (1.88) and whiffs (138), led in WHIP (0.935), and was the best in the majors in H/9, with 6.07. He was murder on the AL after that, regularly posting amazing ERAs. By 1967, Horlen went 19-7 and led the AL in ERA (2.06), shutouts (six) and WHIP (.953), and made the All-Star team for his first and only time. On September 10, in the heat of a furious pennant race, Horlen no-hit the Detroit Tigers at Comiskey Park. (It would be 40 years before another White Sox pitcher, Mark Buehrle, would throw a no-hitter in Chicago.) Horlen finished second in Cy Young and fourth in MVP voting in 1967. After that, as the White Sox stumbled toward the 1970s, Horlen’s performances diminished, but the ultimate insult came in 1972, when Horlen (the team’s union rep) was waived after leading a unanimous vote to strike. Horlen caught on with the Oakland A’s, and relieved for them on their way to a first World Series title — making him the only player in history to win a Pony League World Series (1952), College World Series (1959) and MLB World Series (1972) ring.
Joe Jackson Left Fielder (1915-20) bWAR: 27.8 fWAR: N/A WARP: N/A aWAR: 27.8
aaWAR: 28.4 Last year’s SSS vote: 52% Core Stats: .340/.407/.499, 30 HR, 433 RBI, 251 BB, 87 K, 159 OPS+
Jackson came to the White Sox from Cleveland midway through the 1915 season, in the most expensive transaction ever at the time: $65,500 in cash and players. Jackson only hit .272 in 45 games after the trade, but in 1916 her erupted for .341/.393/.495, with 40 doubles and 21 triples. In 1917, Jackson hit .301 as the Sox won the championship; Jackson hit .304 in the World Series (pay attention, this will come up again in a couple of years). With the World War I going full-force in 1918, Jackson only played in 18 games before taking a job building warships; this angered owner Charles Comiskey and Chicago sportswriters, as they found it cowardly that Jackson didn’t join the armed forces. However, with the war ending, Jackson came back to the White Sox in 1919 and had a great season. He hit .351/.422/.506, as the Sox found themselves back in the World Series again. Jackson worked out a deal with White Sox first baseman Chick Gandil to throw the Series for a reported $20,000. He only saw $5,000 of that money, and it didn’t seem to make an impact anyway, as he hit .375/.394/.563. Under the cloud of the 1919 Series, the 1920 season was Jackson’s best with the White Sox: .382/.444/.589 with 42 doubles, 20 triples, 12 homers and 121 RBI. That would be his final season in baseball, though, as he was banned for life for his part in throwing the 1919 World Series. However, the legend of Shoeless Joe Jackson lives on. — KW
It’s uncanny how similar the White Sox careers of John and Horlen are, down to career WAR totals. In one snapshot of how underrated those 1960s White Sox teams were, John was essentially the same pitcher in Chicago in the 1960s as he was with the Dodgers in the 1970s — yet he was a mere one-time All-Star with the White Sox, a multiple All-Star, Cy Young finalist and MVP candidate in L.A. And, of course, there was one huge difference between White Sox John and Dodgers John: A reconstructed ulnar collateral ligament, the success of which attached John’s named to the now-common Tommy John surgery, and extended the southpaw’s career by 14 seasons. His astronomical career WAR makes his lack of serious consideration for Cooperstown one of the bigger injustices in Hall annals. Simply put, John was phenomenal with the White Sox, leading the majors in shutouts for both the 1966 (five) and 1967 (six) seasons. More inadvertently, John’s trade to L.A. in 1971 reaped one of the most meteoric superstars in White Sox history: Dick Allen.
Lance Johnson Center Fielder (1988-95) bWAR: 21.3 fWAR: 17.2 WARP: 13.8 aWAR: 17.4
aaWAR: 18.6 First year on the White Sox Hall of Fame ballot
Core Stats: .286/.325/.373, 1,018 hits, 77 3B, 17 HR, 327 RBI, 226 SB, 92 OPS+
One-Dog was an underrated minor star for the White Sox. Although fans lament the trade of Bobby Bonilla back to the Pittsburgh Pirates for José DeLeon, DeLeon ultimately yielded Johnson, who finished his career with a higher WAR than Bonilla. In his one postseason on the South Side (1993), Johnson produced 0.23 WPA and uncharacteristic muscle: a double, triple and homer in the six games, giving him a .758 OPS for the series. Johnson also provided significant defensive value (think Adam Engel-plus) in center field while often flanked by corner outfielders who desperately benefitted from his prodigious range.
Jones came to the White Sox for their inaugural 1901 season. He hated the reserve clause that kept players tied to the same team, so when the American League declared itself a major league for 1901 and said it would ignore the reserve clause, Jones jumped on board. The White Sox won the American League championship that season (there was no World Series until 1903, and not one on a yearly basis until 1905). Jones wanted to go back to New York, but was not allowed to leave the South Side (selective attention to the reserve clause, eh?). Knowing that Jones would want to jump back at any time, owner Charles Comiskey made Jones his player/manager. This suited Jones, who went on to manage the White Sox to their first World Series victory, over the Chicago Cubs in 1906. Jones was a very good center fielder and above-average hitter. From 1901-08, Jones was worth between 3.1 and 4.9 bWAR every year, and was also considered one of the best managers in baseball. Jones left the White Sox after the 1908 season because his contract demands of an ownership stake in the club were not met; he turned down a blank-check offer to return. Jones would reappear six years later, at the age of 42, as a player/manager for the St. Louis Terriers of the upstart Federal League. — KW
Paul Konerko First Baseman (1999-2014) bWAR: 29.8 fWAR: N/A WARP: 33.2 aWAR: 31.1 Last year’s SSS vote: 52% Core Stats: .281/.356/.491, 432 HR, 1,383 RBI, 2,292 hits, 120 OPS+
Konerko came to the White Sox from the Cincinnati Reds in 1999, in exchange for Mike Cameron. After unproductive cups of coffee with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds, Konerko would become a fixture in the White Sox lineup for more than a decade. He hit .294/.352/.511 in his first season in Chicago, and never played in fewer than 137 games until his final two seasons. Over that span, Konerko amassed some of the loftiest stats in team history, was the (unofficial) captain of the franchise’s first World Series championship in 88 years, made six All-Star appearances, and has a statue and jersey retirement. Konerko ranks in the top five in White Sox history in games, at-bats, hits, runs, doubles, home runs and RBI in. He also has a “16,000 square foot home”* in Scottsdale. — KW
* Hawkism; Ken Harrelson may or may not have been 10,000 square feet off in his estimate.
Arguably the best center fielder in White Sox history, Lemon came to the White Sox in 1975 from the Oakland Athletics, in exchange for pitcher Stan Bahnsen. Lemon, who had played the infield (poorly) with the A’s throughout his minor league career, was quickly moved to center field by White Sox manager Chuck Tanner. In 1976, Lemon’s first full season in the bigs, the 21-year-old struggled to an OPS of .626. However, in 1977 Lemon came around. He hit .273 with 38 doubles and 19 homers for the South Side Hit Men. In 1978, Lemon would become an All-Star for the first time, and hit .300. In 1979, Lemon had his best year on the South Side, slashing .318/.391/.496 and adding a league-leading 44 doubles in a 5.8 bWAR season. Lemon’s power dropped off a little bit in 1980, but his average and OBP did not as he hit .292/.388/.442. He hit .302 in the strike-shortened 1981 season, which would be his last on the South Side. With Carlton Fisk pre-empting him as the Chisox’s top-salaried player, Lemon planned to become a free agent after 1982. Rather than lose Lemon for no return, new owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn shipped him to the Detroit Tigers for Steve Kemp. A certain future South Side Sox managing editor’s heart was broken into a million billion pieces on that day. — KW
Sherm “The Tank” Lollar was a six-time All-Star catcher with White Sox, and backstopped the 1959 Go-Go Sox. Lollar made stops with Cleveland, the New York Yankees and St. Louis Browns before joining the White Sox, but it was with the White Sox that Lollar found a home; he would play in Chicago for the next 12 campaigns, catching the glory days of the 50’s and early 60’s. Always a good defensive catcher, Lollar really broke out with the bat in 1956, when he hit .293/.383/.438, with 11 homers and 75 RBI. In 1958, Lollar drilled 20 dingers for the Sox and followed that up with 22 for the American League champions in 1959. He finished ninth in MVP voting in both 1958 and 1959. Lollar hit only .226 in the 1959 World Series, but his one home run tied Game 4 at four in the seventh inning. The Sox would unfortunately go on to lose that game, and later the Series. Lollar’s power fell off in the ’60s, and the White Sox released him in 1963, bringing his career to an end. Lollar’s 124 home runs currently are tied for 16th in team history, just ahead of another star White Sox catcher, A.J. Pierzynski, who had 118. — KW
Lyons played his entire 21-year-career with the White Sox. In 1925, his second full season as a starter, Lyons collected 21 wins, which led the league. Two years later, he led the league with 22 wins, 30 complete games and 307 ⅔ innings. In 1930, he won 22 games, with 29 complete games and 297 ⅔ innings. The heavy workload began to take a toll on Lyons, as he went 35-55 with a 4.13 ERA from 1931-34. However, manager Jimmy Dykes developed a plan for Lyons, in which he would pitch only on Sunday; Lyons would go 99-73 with a 3.44 ERA in nine seasons after that. Lyons led the league in ERA in 1942 with a 2.10 mark. He went 14-6 in his 20 starts, all of them complete games — as a 41 year-old! He then took the next three years off, joining the armed forces during World War II. He came back to the Sox in 1946, where at age 45 he went 1-4 with a 2.32 ERA in five complete games. He took over in May as the manager, ending his pitching career. He finished his career 30 games better than .500, even though he played his entire career in the shadows of the Black Sox scandal. The White Sox never finished higher than third, and rarely were above fifth, in his seasons on the South Side. Even still, Lyons went on to win the most games in White Sox history. He also holds the team record for games started and innings pitched. In 1955, he was voted into the Hall of Fame as a White Sox, and in 1987 his No. 16 was retired by the team. — KW
McDowell was the unquestioned badass of the 1990s White Sox renaissance; on a team featuring future Hall-of-Famers Carlton Fisk and Frank Thomas, no one bulldogged it better than Black Jack. He was an All-Star and Top 10 Cy Young finisher for three straight seasons (1991-93), receiving MVP votes in 1992 and 1993. He won the Cy Young in 1993. The lockout that ended the 1994 season rather tragically for White Sox fans also started the decline of McDowell’s career – although a heavy workload (his fewest innings pitched from 1991-93 was 253 ⅔) likely contributed plenty, as well. McDowell was traded to the Yankees in 1995 and had one strong season in the Bronx, but is best known for flipping off the Yankee Stadium boo birds in 1996; a longtime musician (V.I.E.W, Stickfigure), McDowell’s fellow musicians/friends in The Baseball Project wrote a song (“Yankee Flipper”) in homage to his act of heroism. In retirement, McDowell has proven both an adept broadcaster and successful coach.
Mostil is on the short list of most unheralded players in White Sox history, as well as the most tragic. As well outlined by a terrific SSS piece from the past, Mostil snuck into Comiskey Park to see games as a child, grew up to become a rare White Sox superstar in the shadow of the Black Sox. He peaked around age 30, leading the league in steals in 1925 and 1926, and finishing seventh and second in the AL MVP voting in those two seasons. But 1926, and his amazing 133 OPS+ season, would be Mostil’s last effective one. It wasn’t a rapid decline in skills, but a brutal suicide attempt in 1927 that derailed Mostil’s career; he did come back, playing a full, but far less effective 1928 season. But before his 33rd birthday, Mostil’s career was over. There is a happy enough ending to Mostil’s story; after his playing career, he scouted for the White Sox and managed in the minor leagues, living to age 74.
The lone bright spot toward the end of the 1997 season was when the 23-year-old Ordóñez joined the White Sox in August. Magglio would have a heck of a month, hitting .319 with a .918 OPS, to show that he was ready to play every day. Ordóñez would have a good rookie season in 1998, but really started to shine in ’99. Maggs would hit .301 with 30 homers and 117 knocked in, as he became the poster boy for the “kids can play” campaign. In 2000, the White Sox won the AL Central largely behind Ordóñez’s .315 average, 32 homers and 126 knocked in. Magglio’s biggest year came in 2002, when he hit .320/.381/.597 with 47 doubles, 38 homers and 135 RBIs. He had another big year in 2003, hitting .317 with 29 and 99. In 2004, Ordóñez’s season came to an end after 52 games when he suffered a serious knee injury. He would then leave for Detroit as a free agent that offseason, and the White Sox would go on to win the World Series without him in 2005. Despite a relatively short tenure in Chicago, Ordóñez is fifth in home runs, ninth in RBIs, third in slugging percentage, fifth in OPS and ninth in batting average among White Sox. His 86 extra base hits in 2002 are third-most all-time in team history, and his 78 in 2003 are fifth. And my daughter is named Maggie for a reason. — KW
Gary Peters Left-Handed Starting Pitcher (1959-69) bWAR: 25.9 fWAR: 31.3 WARP: 26.1 aWAR: 27.8 First year on the White Sox Hall of Fame ballot
Core Stats: 91-78, 60 CG, 18 SHO, 1,098 K, 2.72 ERA/3.04 FIP, 1.190 WHIP, 115 ERA+
Peters made his hay on the mid-1960s White Sox juggernauts, but his history with the team extended back to the Go-Go 1959 club, for which he made his major league debut with one inning pitched in two games. Continuing to struggle to break onto Chicago’s loaded roster over the next three seasons, Peters was still a rookie in his fifth MLB campaign (1963), when he broke through to go 19-8 with a league-leading 2.33 ERA, 2.34 FIP and 150 ERA+, winning the Rookie of the Year. He also finished eighth in MVP voting in 1963, seventh in 1964, and ninth in 1967, while strangely never garnering Cy Young consideration. Peters was a two-time All-Star, twice leading the AL in ERA and ERA+.
José Quintana Left-Handed Starting Pitcher (2012-17) bWAR: 21.0 fWAR: N/A WARP: 12.2 aWAR: 16.6 First year on the White Sox Hall of Fame ballot
Core Stats: 50-54, 890 K, 3.51 ERA/3.53 FIP, 1.250 WHIP, 115 ERA+
The very hardest of hard-luck stories, Quintana’s career on the South Side was marred by chronically low run support. He “shattered” his career mark for season wins with 13 (against 12 losses, natch) in 2016, Q’s last full season with the White Sox. He was named to his first and only All-Star team that season, finishing 10th in Cy Young voting. That season bolstered his trade value as the club moved toward a rebuild, and at the 2017 trade deadline he netted both Eloy Jiménez and Dylan Cease in a trade that may surpass George Bell-for-Sammy Sosa in lopsided crosstown swap annals.
Alexei Ramírez Shortstop (2008-15) bWAR: 23.0 fWAR: 19.6 WARP: 21.3 aWAR: 21.3 First year on the White Sox Hall of Fame ballot
Core Stats: .270/.310/.399, 1,272 H, 109 HR, 590 RBI, 143 SB, 89 OPS+
The first bonus baby of the White Sox’s 21st Century run on Cuban stars, Ramírez made an instant impact on the White Sox, debuting in center field before settling in at second base for a runner-up Rookie of the Year campaign in 2008. Moving to shortstop and improving each year, Ramírez won Silver Sluggers in 2010 and 2014, was the Wilson Defensive SS of the Year in 2012 and was an All-Star in 2014. His penchant for dramatic hits — and dramatic reactions to getting hit on the field — remain legendary.
Sale was drafted by the White Sox in 2010, and after throwing 10 ⅓ minor league innings found himself in Chicago later that season. Sale pitched impressively out of the bullpen in his first two campaigns before making the jump to the rotation in 2012. Sale started a streak of All-Star appearances that year that is still continuing. He went 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA in 2012, and in 2013 went 11-14 with a 3.07 ERA on a terrible club. In 2014, Sale was 12-4 with a 2.17 ERA. In 2015, Sale led the league in strikeouts (setting a White Sox record with 274), as he went 13-11. Chris was 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA in 2016, his final season with the White Sox. Sale finished in the top six in Cy Young voting every season he pitched as a starter. The White Sox however, never made the playoffs with Sale, and they traded him to Boston in 2017. Sale is sixth in White Sox history with 1,244 strikeouts, and his combined career in Chicago and Boston places him as the all-time MLB leader in K/9 (10.9) and K/SO (5.31).
Schalk made his debut at 19, in 1912. He’d go on to man the backstop on the South Side for 17 seasons. From 1913 to 1926, Schalk caught about 80% of the Sox contests. He was the catcher for the 1917 World Champions, and also the 1919 Black Sox (Schalk hit .304 in the 1919 World Series). Ed Walsh, Eddie Cicotte, Red Faber and Ted Lyons all had one thing in common: Schalk behind the plate. Schalk’s best year with the bat came in 1922, when he hit .281/.379/.371 with four home runs, 60 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. Schalk started to wind down his playing days when he took over as White Sox manager in 1927. He was fired partway through 1928, and went on to join the New York Giants coaching staff in 1929. Schalk ranks fifth in games, ninth in at-bats, 10th in hits, 13th in RBIs, eighth in walks and ninth in steals all-time for his White Sox career. Schalk was elected to the Hall of Fame as a White Sox in 1955. — KW
Thornton came to the White Sox in a trade of failed prospects with the Seattle Mariners. The Sox sent Seattle Joe Borchard, who had received the biggest signing bonus in White Sox history, in exchange for Thornton, who threw 100 mph but lacked the control or stamina to make it as a starting pitcher. The Sox put Thornton in the pen, and almost immediately he paid dividends, turning into one of the finest late-inning relievers in baseball. From 2008-10, Thornton went 16-10 with a 2.70 ERA and struck out 245 batters in 200 ⅓ innings, with a WHIP of 1.028. The run of dominance included an All-Star berth in 2010. Thornton slowed down a little bit in his last two-and-a-half years on the South Side, but was still plenty effective. He was traded to the Red Sox in 2013. Thornton’s 512 appearances rank fourth in team history, and his 137 ERA+ bests even Chris Sale’s. — KW
Rockin’ Robin was drafted by the White Sox in the first round in 1988 out of Oklahoma State, and by late 1989 was in the big leagues to stay. Ventura played 150 games in 1990, and it was a struggle with the bat. However, when New Comiskey Park opened in 1991, Ventura found his legs, hitting .284/.367/.442 with 23 homers and 100 RBI that year and won his first of six Gold Gloves. He made his only appearance in the All-Star game in 1992. In 1995, Ventura hit .295 with 26 homers and in 1996, hit .287 with 34 home runs and 105 RBI. After a terrifying ankle injury in spring training 1997 limited him to only 54 games, Ventura returned for one last year on the South Side in 1998, when he hit 21 homers and knocked in 91. He joined the New York Mets in free agency in 1999, bringing to end a great era of Batman (Frank Thomas) and Robin. It is rumored he went on to manage the White Sox. — KW
Big Ed Walsh is the all-time career leader in ERA and FIP. Not for the White Sox, but in all of baseball history. He started his career with the White Sox in 1904, and in 1906 he got his first crack as a regular in the South Side rotation. Walsh did not disappoint, as he went 17-13 with a 1.88 ERA for the Hitless Wonders. Even better, he was 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA over 15 innings in the 1906 World Series against the hated Chicago Cubs, as the Sox went on to win the crosstown series. From there, things got ridiculous. Walsh went 24-18 with a 1.60 ERA over 422 ⅓ innings (!) in 1907. In 1908, Wash became the last pitcher to win 40 games in a season, going 40-15 with a 1.42 ERA over a record (at least for people that played after 1900) 464 innings pitched. The next year was a “down” year for Big Ed, when he went 15-11 with a 1.41 ERA in “only” 230 ⅓ innings. In 1910, Walsh had an 18-20 record even though his ERA was 1.27. Walsh went 27-18 in 1911, with a 2.22 ERA over 368 ⅔ innings. The 1912 season was the last big year for Walsh, as he won another 27 games with a 2.15 ERA, including 32 complete games and six shutouts, over 393 innings pitched. To top it off, he led the league in saves with 10. From there, Walsh went 13-7 over the next four years as the crazy innings load finally caught up with him. By the time the White Sox were winning another championship in 1917, Walsh was closing out his career throwing 18 innings with the Boston Braves. — KW
White, who was a dentist in the offseason, went straight from Georgetown University to the Phillies in 1901. He pitched two seasons in Philadelphia before the White Sox poached him into the American League. The Phillies offered White a big raise, but before he accepted, the American League and the National League united, and it was ruled that White would stay in Chicago. White would go on to pitch the last 11 seasons of his career for the Sox. In 1903, he won 17 games with a 2.13 ERA over 300 innings pitched. He was 16-12 with a 1.78 ERA in 1904, including a streak where he threw five shutouts in a row — a mark that would stand until Don Drysdale threw six in a row in 1968. The Doc went 17-13 with a 1.76 ERA in 1905. For the World Champions in 1906, White was 18-6, with a league-leading 1.52 ERA. In the World Series, he was 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA over 15 innings as the Sox beat the Cubs to claim their first World Series title. White won a career-high 27 games in 1907, with a 2.26 ERA over 291 innings. White continued to be solid for a couple more seasons before his workload took a toll and his effectiveness tapered off. White’s last season came in 1913, when he threw 103 innings with a 3.50 ERA. — KW
Wilhelm came to the White Sox in 1963 at 40, in a heartbreaking trade that sent World Series heroes Luis Aparicio and Al Smith to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Ron Hansen, Dave Nicholson, Pete Ward and Wilhelm. The trade basically marked the end of the Go-Go Sox era of the ’50’s — but fueled the winningest three-season streak (1963-65) in team history. In 1963, the knuckleballer went 5-8 with a 2.64 ERA and 21 saves over 136 ⅓ innings. This was his only White Sox season with an ERA worse than 2.00. In 1964, Wilhelm dazzled opposing hitters, to the tune of a 1.99 ERA over 131 ⅓ innings. In 1965, it was an even better 1.81 ERA over 144 innings of work. Wilhelm never threw 100 innings again, but his ERA continued to fall. In 1966, Wilhelm posted a 1.66 ERA over 81 ⅓ innings. He followed that up with an even more impressive 1.31 ERA over 89 innings in 1967. In 1968, Hoyt had a “down” year, as his ERA rose to 1.73 over 93 ⅔ innings as a 45-year-old. With these great results, Wilhelm was picked by the Kansas City Royals in the 1968 expansion draft, ending most successful relief run in White Sox history. — KW
Hoyt Wilhelm had one more trick up his sleeve before he left the White Sox: He taught his dancing knuckleball to Wood, who had struggled to catch on with the Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wood went on to throw possibly the best lefty knuckleball ever. In his first year, Wood went 95 ⅓innings, with a 2.45 ERA. He followed that up in 1968 with an impressive 1.87 ERA over 159 innings, and a league-leading 88 games. In 1969, Wood went 10-11 with a 3.01 ERA over 76 games, and led the league in appearances for the third year in a row, compiling a 2.81 ERA with 21 saves over 121 ⅔ innings. Then, manager Chuck Tanner decided to change things up and make Wood a starter. The rotund southpaw responded by throwing innings like some of the pitchers profiled from early in the century. In 1971, Wood started 42 games, winning and completing 22 of them, with a ridiculous 1.81 ERA over 334 innings. In 1972, Wood started 49 games, threw 376 2/3 innings and won 24 games, all three figures leading the league. He had a 2.51 ERA that year. He led the league in starts (48), innings (359 1/3) and wins (24) in 1973. He was 20-19 in 1974, and was an All-Star for the third time. He lost 20 games in 1975, with a 4.11 ERA over 291 1/3 innings. He pitched three more years for the White Sox, never putting up the numbers he had previously. He currently ranks in the all-time team Top 10 in wins, games, starts, saves, innings and strikeouts. — KW
1906: With the fourth-best winning percentage in team history (.616), the 93-58, World Series-winning Hitless Wonders toppled the Cubs in the only all-Chicago Fall Classic.
1959: The 94-60 (.610 winning percentage, tied for seventh-best in team history) Go-Go Sox finally broke past the Yankees juggernaut to win the pennant, but fell in six games to the Dodgers in the World Series.
1964: A relative bunch of no-names finished with 98 wins, one game behind the damn Yankees for the AL pennant. Sandwiched season of the greatest three-season run (1963-65) in team history.
1983: The 99-63 Winning Ugly White Sox were upset in the ALCS by the Orioles.
1993: The 94-68 White Sox lost in the ALCS to the Toronto Blue Jays, and lost a back-to-back shot at the playoffs because of the 1994 lockout.
Previous winners: 2005 (2018) and 1917 (2019).
Jimmy Dykes: Managed 13 seasons (1934-46), 899-940 record (most White Sox wins all-time), 34.4 career managerial WAR (1.4 WAR per 162 games)
Clark Griffith: Managed two seasons (1900-01), 157-113 record, 1900 pennant, 5.6 career WAR (3.4/162)
Fielder Jones: Managed five seasons (1904-08), 426-293 record, 1906 World Series, 6.2 career WAR (1.4/162)
Al Lopez: Managed 11 seasons (1957-65, 1968-69), 840-650 record, 1959 pennant, 13.3 career WAR (3.0 WAR/162)
Ted Lyons: Managed three seasons (1946-48), 185-245 record, 5.1 career WAR (1.9/162)
Previous winner: Ozzie Guillén (2018)
Dog Day: If not a White Sox invention, a promotion they first brought to prominence, with “Bark at the Park” a ubiquitous part of the ballpark experience today.
Elvis Night: August tradition at the new ballpark, inspired in part it seems by the Honeymoon in Vegas Flying Elvises.
Outfield Shower: From center field at Comiskey Park to the left field concourse today.
Seventh-Inning Stretch: Nancy Faust and Harry Caray singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.
Turn Back the Clock: The White Sox started the retro uni trend in 1990, sporting 1917 duds and having lineups introduced through a megaphone as part of the goodbye to Comiskey Park.
Previous winners: Exploding Scoreboard (2018), Disco Demolition Night (2018), Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye) (2019)
Oct. 14, 1906: Hitless Wonders upset Cubs to win the World Series
July 18, 1948: Pat Seerybecomes the third player in modern MLB history to hit four homers in a game, the fourth winning the game 12-11 over the Philadelphia A’s in the 11th inning
Sept. 22, 1959: Mayor Daley sets off the air raid sirens as the White Sox clinch the pennant
May 9, 1984: Harold Baines hits a home run against the Milwaukee Brewers in the 25th inning, ending the longest game in major league history
Sept. 30, 2008: Jim Thome’s Blackout Game home run in game 163
Previous winners: 2005 World Series sweep (2018), “The Catch” by Dewayne Wise (2019)
11-1 Postseason record, tied for best all-time since the playoffs moved to three rounds.
Orlando Hernandez comes on in relief and escapes a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning of the ALDS Game 3 vs. Boston.
Paul Konerko‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of World Series Game 1.
A.J. Pierzynski steals first base in Game 2 of the ALCS.
Scott Podsednik‘s game-ending World Series homer vs. Houston to win Game 2 of the World Series.
Previous winner: Four straight CGs in the ALCS (2019)
Iván Calderon climbs the wall in Tiger Stadium on July 27, 1987 to rob Alan Trammell
Ken Griffey Jr. throwing out the lead run at home, with a ballsy tag by A.J. Pierzynski, in the 2008 Blackout Game
Tadahito Iguchi’s upside-down assist on April 15, 2006
Juan Uribe’s breakneck dive into the stands to bring the White Sox within one out of the 2005 World Series title
Dewayne Wise preserving Buerhle’s perfect game on July 23, 2009
Previous Winner: Mark Buerhle’s between-the-legs assist (2019)
Albert Belle: Two seasons on the South Side, and after a solid debut in 1997 (great counting stats but just 1.5 bWAR), launched into the stratosphere in 1998 (7.1 bWAR, .328/.399/.655, 49 homers, 152 RBIs). His White Sox bWAR represents 21.4% of his career total.
Terry Forster: Forster exploded on the scene at age 20 and stitched together three of the best relief seasons in White Sox history, peaking with 4.6 bWAR as a reliever, in 1971. His White Sox bWAR represents 65.4% of his career total.
Ron Hansen: An unheralded core of the best three-season stretch in White Sox history (1963-65), Hansen peaked at 7.7 bWAR in 1964 and finished in the top 17 of MVP voting in both 1964 and 1965. His White Sox bWAR represents 75.1% of his career total.
Esteban Loaiza: One full season on the South Side (2003), good for 7.2 bWAR, a start in the All-Star Game at Sox Park, runner-up for the Cy Young, 24th in MVP voting. His White Sox bWAR represents 35.2% of his career total.
Tommy Thomas: Even Chris Sale didn’t have as productive a first four White Sox seasons as Thomas, who peaked at 8.5 bWAR in 1927 and led the AL in at least one category in the opening quartet of his career. His White Sox bWAR represents 85.9% of his career total.
Previous winner: Dick Allen (2019)
Harry Caray: His addled work across town is so frozen in the minds of many fans, it’s easy to forget what a good broadcaster Harry was on the South Side. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” the home run net, broadcasting from the bleachers, and pointed criticisms were his White Sox hallmarks.
Steve Lyons: “Psycho” was quick with a smile and some antics, including his spontaneous pants-drop at first base in 1990.
Tom Paciorek: Both as a White Sox player and broadcaster, Wimpy brought a real sense of fun to the game. In a game that’s ever-serious, how cool is it to have a guy still around the team (for sub work on broadcasts) who’s having so much fun?
Scott Radinsky: A punk-rock relief pitcher? You betcha. Both Radinsky and Jack McDowell brought serious music chops to the White Sox clubhouse of the early 1990s, but Radinsky took it all one step farther.
Yolmer Sánchez: Gatorade bather who lives by the mantra, “have a good time all the time.”
Case closed: In his final year on the ballot, Larry Walker pulled 77% support, making the South Side Hit Pen Hall of Fame. (@MLBStats)
Congratulations to a study in Hall of Fame contrasts.
Derek Jeter won election in his first eligible season, taking 83% of the South Side Hit Pen vote. Meanwhile Larry Walker, in his final year on the ballot, squeaked in with 77% support.
Jeter’s lack of unanimity is a contrast to the actual Cooperstown results, released later on Tuesday and expected to possibly cement Jeter as the second unanimous Hall of Fame honoree in history, joining Mariano Rivera in 2019. So, bravo for having the sense not to make a very good, but not ethereal, baseball shortstop a unanimous choice.
And with an average number of 8.04 players chosen per ballot, congratulations also the the SSHP electorate for submitting full dance cards this year; with well more than 10 worthy players, a healthy list of players is a wise direction to take with recent HOF ballots.
No other players appear on the precipice of election. However, with no shoo-in candidate appearing for the first time in 2021, it will be an opportunity for other Cooperstown hopefuls to sneak up the charts.
Here are the full results from this year’s voting, with the voting trend from 2019 to 2020 when applicable.
Get your speeches ready Derek Jeter (83%)
Larry Walker (77%, up from 62% in 2019)
Strong support Curt Schilling (58%, up 2%) Barry Bonds (54%, down 12%) Roger Clemens (52%, down 10%) Andruw Jones (50%, up 8%)
You got some work to do Trevor Hoffman (46%, up 12%) Gary Sheffield (44%,up 12%) Manny Ramirez (38%, up 1%) Todd Helton (37%, even) Paul Konerko (37%) Scott Rolen (31%, down 10%)
At least they got double digits Omar Vizquel (29%, up 9%) Billy Wagner (27%, up 20%) Jeff Kent (25%, up 8%) Bobby Abreu (21%) Sammy Sosa (21%, up 7%) Andy Pettitte (17%, up 2%) Lance Berkman (13%, up 3%) Johan Santana (10%, up 2%)
Still on the ballot Roy Oswalt (8%, even) Cliff Lee (6%)
Off the ballot Alfonso Soriano (4%) Raúl Ibañez (4%) Carlos Peña (4%) J.J. Putz (4%) Jason Giambi (4%) Heath Bell (2%) Josh Beckett (0%) Eric Chávez (0%) Adam Dunn (0%) Chone Figgins (0%) Rafael Furcal (0%) Brad Penny (0%) Brian Roberts (0%) José Valverde (0%)
South Side Sox Hall of Fame Class of 2011: Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Tim Raines
SSS Hall of Fame Class of 2012: Barry Larkin
SSS Hall of Fame Class of 2013: Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines
SSS Hall of Fame Class of 2014: Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine
SSS Hall of Fame Class of 2015: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Craig Biggio, John Smoltz
SSS Hall of Fame Class of 2016: Ken Griffey, Jr., Tim Raines, Mike Piazza
SSS Hall of Fame Class of 2017: Tim Raines, Vladimir Guerrero, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez
SSS Hall of Fame Class of 2018: Jim Thome, Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero
SSS Hall of Fame Class of 2019: Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez
South Side Hit Pen Hall of Fame Class of 2020: Derek Jeter, Larry Walker
Hallowed ground: Which of the 36 players below will make it into the South Side Hit Pen wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame?
It’s that time of the year again — now is the time and this is the place to cast your 2020 South Side Hit Pen Hall of Fame ballot.
You have until January 19 to fill out your ballot, as we will announce our 2020 Hall of Fame and Veteran’s Committee results on January 20 (vote here to fill out your Vet ballot). And after that, you will be voting for the third White Sox Hall of Fame class.
The rules here are pretty simple. Read over the bios, and select up to 10 names to be enshrined. And if you don’t think anyone should be voted in, seriously, why are you reading this?
Due to the backlog of viable candidates (personally I count around 15, but I’m a big-Hall guy), with last year’s vote I asked our readership whether we should expand the number of players we can vote on in 2020; that suggestion was voted down, 54%-46%. So, 10 players it remains.
Those close calls join this year’s ballot, headlined by Derek Jeter and also featuring Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi. Trevor Hoffman was never elected by us, so he remains on the ballot despite residing in Cooperstown.
Here are the 36 candidates on the 2019 South Side Hit Pen Hall of Fame ballot.
Sitaspell, take yer shoes off, and ponder.
aWAR averages Baseball-Reference (bWAR), FanGraphs (fWAR) and Baseball Prospectus (WARP) WAR measures.
Bobby Abreu Right Fielder Philadelphia Phillies, Angels, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets bWAR: 60.0 fWAR: 59.8 WARP: 49.1 aWAR: 56.3 B-R Most Similar Batter: Luis González (87.9%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RF: 20th
Core Stats: 291/.395/.475, 288 HR, 1,453 R, 1,363 RBI, 300 SB, .128 OPS+, -11.1 dWAR
Core Accolades: Two-time All-Star, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove
Abreu remains an underrated player. Per B-R, his power-speed rating (HR and SB) is 14th-highest in baseball history, and holds the seventh-best on-base percentage from 1998-2006 (min. 3,000 PA). He saw postseason play in only four of 18 seasons in the bigs, but put up a career .810 OPS and 0.34 WPA while there.
Josh Beckett Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Boston Red Sox, Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers bWAR: 35.6 fWAR: 36.7 WARP: 46.5 aWAR: 39.6 B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Jason Schmidt (95.2%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 215th
Core Stats: 138-106, 3.88 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 1.232 WHIP, 111 ERA+
Core Accolades: Three-time All-Star, 2003 World Series MVP, 2007 ALCS MVP, one Top 5 Cy Young finish
Beckett was on the fast train toward immortality, named the World Series MVP in just his second full season in the bigs. And while he continued his early dominance into the second phase of his career, with the Red Sox, he struggled to dominate consistently, repeating a sort of year-on, year-off pattern. Ultimately, he’s a strong contender for the Hall of Very Good.
Heath Bell Right-Handed Relief Pitcher San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays bWAR: 7.1 fWAR: 9.8 WARP: 13.8 aWAR: 10.2 B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Keith Foulke (96.3%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RP: 366th
Core Stats: 38-32, 168 SV, 3.49 ERA, 3.17 FIP, 1.269 WHIP, 112 ERA+
Core Accolades: Three-time All-Star, two-time Rolaids Reliever of the Year
There are some real parallels between Beckett and Bell, in that both players didn’t have the staying power to qualify as all-time greats. However, Bell’s fall was precipitous, an all-time puzzling flameout after signing a three-year, $24 million deal with Miami in 2011; he’d earn just 34 career saves, many of them disastrously earned, in the rest of his career.
Lance Berkman Outfielder/First Baseman Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees bWAR: 52.1 fWAR: 56 WARP: 54.1 aWAR: 54.1
Last year’s SSS vote: 10.1% B-R Most Similar Hitter: Jim Edmonds (91.1%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF: 20th
Core Stats: .293/.406/.537, 1,905 H, 366 HR, 1,234 RBI, 144 OPS+, -11.0 dWAR
Core Accolades: Six-time All-Star, four Top 5 MVP finishes
Berkman clears the 50 WAR hurdle, which would seem to indicate serious merit and demand legit consideration. He’s unlikely to get either, and not only because this ballot, again, is crawling with deserving candidates. Fat Elvis was a six-time All-Star, including a final appearance at age 35, as well as four times a top-five MVP finisher. His 1,201 career walks against 1,300 Ks, already make him a relic of a different age. But hey, his career .406 OBP is nothing to sneeze at. Ditto a career .949 OPS over 52 postseason games (1.065 vs. the White Sox in the 2005 World Series).
Barry Bonds Left Fielder San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates bWAR: 162.8 fWAR: 164.4 WARP: 165.3 aWAR: 164.2 Last year’s SSS vote: 66.3%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Willie Mays (76.2%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF: 1st
Core Stats: .298/.444/.607, 2,935 H, 2,227 R, 762 HR, 1,996 RBI, 514 SB, 182 OPS+
Core Accolades: Seven-time NL MVP (1990, 1992-93, 2001-04), 14-time All-Star, eight Gold Gloves, 12 Silver Sluggers, five Top 5 MVP finishes, all-time home run (762), walks (2,558) and intentional walks (688) leader
Bonds fell 29 votes shy of enshrinement last year in SSS voting. He’s the only member of the 700 (homer)/500 (stolen base) club. He was the epitome of a five-tool player. The argument for him, in spite of any PED use, is that he was a Hall-of-Famer based on his Pirates career (50.3 bWAR), not to mention being the all-time home run champion (762 homers), and basically the most ferocious hitter any of us will ever live to see. The argument against is as obvious as his increased cap size.
Eric Chávez Third Baseman Oakland A’s, New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks bWAR: 37.5 fWAR: 35.7 WARP: 34.6 aWAR: 35.9 B-R Most Similar Hitter: Doug DeCinces (94.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 3B: 45th
Core Stats: .268/.342/.475, 260 HR, 115 OPS+
Core Accolades: Six Gold Gloves, Silver Slugger
Chávez is considered an all-time great defensive player (six Gold Gloves), yet accumulated just 5.6 dWAR in his career. Of course, defensive metrics are still not necessarily perfected, but does that signify a player more prone to the spectacular play vs. inning-to-inning greatness? Also noteworthy is some withering performances in the playoffs; over nine series in seven years, Chávez OPSed a meager .555, with -1.78 WPA.
Roger Clemens Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays bWAR: 139.6 fWAR: 133.7 WARP: 151.7 aWAR: 141.7 Last year’s SSS vote: 62% B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Randy Johnson (85.1%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 3rd
Core Stats: 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 4,672 K, 1.17 WHIP, 118 CG, 143 ERA+
Core Accolades: 1986 MVP and Cy Young, seven-time Cy Young (1986-87, 1991, 1997-98, 2001, 2004), three Top 5 Cy Young finishes, one Top 5 MVP finish, 11-time All-Star
Back-to-back greats make this ballot top-heavy, ominous in their absence from the Hall. Clemens was somewhat of a Nolan Ryan redux, winning more than 350 games, with almost 4,700 career strikeouts. He burst on the scene by winning both the AL Cy Young and MVP in just his second full season (1986), and would win seven Cy Youngs and play in 11 All-Star Games before he was through. His career parallels that of Bonds, making two all-time greats, both tainted by PEDs. More recently, Clemens has had to fend off sexual assault charges centering around a 10-year affair with country singer Mindy McCready, begun when McCready was 15 years old, Clemens 28 and a married father of two. His numbers signify Hall-of-Famer in my book, but if you prefer like me, to hate to love him, you can focus more on his Red Sox losing the World Series in classic fashion after his MVP season, his roid-rage toss of the bat barrel back at Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series, or the Chicago White Sox knocking him out of the box in Game 1 of the 2005 World Series.
Adam Dunn Left Fielder Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland A’s bWAR: 17.4 fWAR: 25.6 WARP: 24.2 aWAR: 22.4 B-R Most Similar Hitter: Dave Kingman (89.3%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF: 139th
Core Stats: .237/.364/.490, 462 HR, 124 OPS+, -28.9 dWAR
Core Accolades: Two-time All-Star
What do you need to know about Dunn that hasn’t been witnessed by your own eyes, or passed down to you by a bitter elder? The Big Donkey was perhaps GM Ken Williams’ most coveted prize, but one that paid off least handsomely. Dunn’s South Side time is was the fulcrum that shot stardom to shambles. But enough of my yakkin’; if you wish tom commiserate more on the failings of the early-2010s White Sox, I direct you to very likely the best piece I ever wrote for a cable venture masquerading as everyday news source, a piece so brilliant and cherished it now garners the coveted 404 Award for Feature Writing.
Chone Figgins Third Baseman Angels, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers bWAR: 22.2 fWAR: 22.2 WARP: 19.2 aWAR: 21.2 B-R Most Similar Hitter: Michael Bourn (93.8%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 3B: 104th
Core Stats: .276/.349/.363, 35 HR, 341 SB, 92 OPS+
Core Accolades: One-time All-Star
Perhaps this is false memory, but was Figgins not another of Williams’ wish-list players? Well, I’m ashamed to admit that there was a time I constructed a massive trade in my brain circa 2008, with the core pieces consisting of Paul Konerko for Figgins. Except, wait: From 2008-on, Figgins was worth 10.8 bWAR, Konerko 10.1. Oof. Figgins was a fine player, versatile (lots of time logged in center field and second base) and skilled; he was also bereft of significant power and shrunk in the postseason.
Rafael Furcal Shortstop Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins bWAR: 39.4 fWAR: 33.1 WARP: 37.4 aWAR: 36.6 B-R Most Similar Hitter: Elvis Andrus (91.3%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SS: 44th
Core Stats: .281/.346/.402, 113 HR, 314 SB, 96 OPS+, 15.0 dWAR
Core Accolades: 2000 NL Rookie of the Year, three-time All-Star
In the end, Furcal’s career pretty well mirrors that of Chávez. Or perhaps, call him a Figgins with better D. Nonetheless, he’s a player like several here who would be fighting to make even the Hall of Very Good.
Jason Giambi First Baseman Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins bWAR: 50.5 fWAR: 49.8 WARP: 49.0 aWAR: 49.8 B-R Most Similar Hitter: Carlos Delgado (91.3%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 1B: 25th
Core Stats: .277/.399/.516, 2,010 H, 440 HR, 139 OPS+, -19.8 dWAR
Core Accolades: 2000 AL MVP*, five-time All-Star, two Silver Sluggers, two Top 5 MVP finishes
In my book, you can hardly find a better borderline Hall of Fame case than Giambi, who along with players like Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Jerry Koosman and Bert Campaneris straddle the 50-WAR line that I use as my velvet rope barring entry to Cooperstown. Surely Giambi is demerited based on his admitted PED use, as his truest career accolade was misbegotten thievery of Frank Thomas’ rightful third MVP. However, Giambi was also a strong postseason player (.911 OPS) and hung on in the AL until age 43.
Todd Helton First Baseman Colorado Rockies bWAR: 61.2 fWAR: 55.0 WARP: 75.0 aWAR: 63.7 Last year’s SSS vote: 36.5%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Jeff Bagwell (86.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF: 15th
Core Stats: .316/.414/.538, 2,519 H, 369 HR, 1,406 RBI, 133 OPS+
Core Accolades: Five-time All-Star, three Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, one Top 5 MVP finish
A rare bird these days — a player spending all his time with one team. Even back in the days of George Brett and Robin Yount, the one-team career player was being discussed as anomaly, so Helton’s love affair with Colorado is something special, indeed. Of course, as a hitter in Denver, there may be a reason for the love affair. But while Helton’s home numbers (.345/.441/.607) were gaudy, the road work wasn’t anything to sneeze at, either (.287/.386/.469). There’s another weird variance in overall career assessment here, with FanGraphs and BP far apart in their judgment. Helton had a relatively early peak, with all five of his All-Star appearances coming from 2000-04. Helton was absolutely robbed on the 2000 NL MVP, leading the NL in WAR (and third in baseball), and leading the NL in hits, doubles, RBIs, and average, on-base and slugging; Helton finished fifth.
Trevor Hoffman Right-Handed Relief Pitcher San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers (2009-10), Florida Marlins bWAR: 28.0 fWAR: 26.0 WARP: 27.5 aWAR: 27.2 Last year’s SSS vote: 34% B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Lee Smith (89.6%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RP: 20th
Core Stats: 61-75, 601 SV, 2.87 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 1,133 K, 1.06 WHIP, 141 ERA+
Core Accolades: Hall of Fame, seven-time All-Star, two Rolaids Reliever of the Year, three Top 5 Cy Young finishes
If there was a Hall of Closers, of course Hoffman would be a first-ballot inductee. But the notion of placing closers alongside starting pitchers, or regular position players, in importance is subject to debate. In our site voting, that debate wages more intensely than among the BBWAA voters, who elected Hoffman to Cooperstown in 2018. Hoffman was a seven-time All-Star, and finished as the runner-up in NL Cy Young voting twice (1998 and 2006). The eight-season spread on that latter stat truly speaks to what is special about Hoffman, as longevity is not a hallmark of most closers — Hoffman retired in 2010, as baseball’s all-time saves leader (601, since surpassed by Mariano Rivera).
Raúl Ibañez Left Fielder Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies, Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees, Angels bWAR: 20.4 fWAR: 19.3 WARP: 21.6 aWAR: 20.4 B-R Most Similar Hitter: Ruben Sierra (94.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF: 119th
Core Stats: .272/.335/.465, 2,034 H, 305 HR, 1,055 R, 1,207 RBI, 111 OPS+, -17.7 dWAR
Core Accolades: One-time All-Star
Even a fan who tends to ignore the argument that a Hall-of-Famer isn’t required to be among the elite in the game for an extended stretch of time would be hard-pressed to push Ibañez into the Hall given his utter lack of dominance. His counting stats are impressive, to be sure: more than 2,000 hits and 300 homers and a pretty healthy OPS+. The 19-year vet was also pretty adequate in the playoffs. But there’s not clear path for Ibañez to stay on the ballot more than one year, much less survive to enshrinement.
Derek Jeter Shortstop New York Yankees bWAR: 72.4 fWAR: 73.0 WARP: 51.9 aWAR: 65.8 B-R Most Similar Hitter: Craig Biggio (82.5%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SS: 12th
Core Stats: .310/.377/.440, 3,465 H, 260 HR, 1,923 R, 1,311 RBI, 115 OPS+
Core Accolades: 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, 14-time All-Star, five Gold Gloves, five Silver Sluggers, 2000 World Series MVP, three Top 5 MVP finishes
What we can’t debate is Jeter’s worthiness for the Hall of Fame. But what we can discuss is the degree to which he has been overrated, and whether he merits a unanimous selection. There’s no harm in being Craig Biggio, who his B-R comp pairs Jeter up with. There’s nothing wrong with being a very good, even superstar player for years in the biggest market out there. But a unanimous selection? Jeter’s aWAR is roughly that of Reggie Smith, trailing Bobby Grich, and trailing several shortstops significantly, from Cal Ripken Jr. to George Davis, with ex-teammate Alex Rodriguez comfortably ahead as well. While the worthy-of-unanimous debate is a silly one, so is the notion that Jeter should be so honored (and that goes for another ex-teammate, Mariano Rivera, but that water is well under the bridge). My personal strategy going forward with these votes is to determine how many worth HOFers are on the ballot, and vote up from the last on the list; this year, I may be voting for candidates No. 5-14, or 4-13. Jeter will get in; I want to keep the lower-rung guys on the ballot.
Andruw Jones Center Fielder Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers bWAR: 62.8 fWAR: 66.9 WARP: 61.9 aWAR: 63.9 Last year’s SSS vote: 42.3% B-R Most Similar Hitter: Dale Murphy (93.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among CF: 11th
Core Stats: .254/.337/.486, 1,933 H, 434 HR, 1,289 RBI, 152 SB, 111 OPS+, 24.4 dWAR
Core Accolades: Five-time All-Star, 10 Gold Gloves, Silver Slugger, one Top 5 MVP finish
First and foremost in assessing Jones’ career: He was as good as any center fielder who has ever played the game. He won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves, and while no slouch as a hitter, had several seasons of higher defensive WAR than offensive. He was a five-time All-Star who, ironically enough, finished second in the NL in WAR during that 2000 season where Helton was jobbed of the MVP; in a clear statement about how unimportantly defense is measured by the voters, Jones finished eighth in that MVP vote. When Jones left Atlanta for Los Angeles in free agency, his career fell off the deep end, fast. One swell swan song was in 2010 with the White Sox, when Jones hit his 400th home run and had a bounce-back, 1.9 bWAR season in limited playing time.
Jeff Kent Second Baseman San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland bWAR: 55.4 fWAR: 56.1 WARP: 53.4 aWAR: 55.0 Last year’s SSS vote: 16.6% B-R Most Similar Hitter: Robinson Cano (88.8%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 2B: 20th
Core Stats: .290/.356/.500, 2,461 H, 377 HR, 1,518 RBI, 123 OPS+
Core Accolades: 2000 NL MVP, five-time All-Star, four Silver Sluggers
Unlike many others who hit the ground running in their careers, it took several years and a move to the Giants for Kent to start turning heads around baseball. After receiving no accolades at all until 1997, Kent garnered five All-Star berths in his final 11 seasons. He also won the 2000 NL MVP (the one Helton, or Jones, should have taken!). Kent impresses most when viewed relative to other second basemen — he’s simply among the two or three biggest bats ever to play the position (second place all-time in 2B HRs, and owning the top three 2B RBI seasons of the past 50 years). He was a pretty decent postseason performer, slashing .276/.340/.500 in 189 career PAs — but had a -.13 WPA. Undervalued, and on this ballot perhaps fairly so, it’s surprising to see Kent had nearly 2,500 hits and hit at least 20 homers in 12 seasons (totaling 377 for his career).
Paul Konerko First Baseman Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds bWAR: 27.7 fWAR: 24.0 WARP: 26.9 aWAR: 26.2 B-R Most Similar Hitter: Andres Galarraga (91.4%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 2B: 92nd
Core Stats: .279/.354/.486, 2,340 H, 439 HR, 1,162 R, 1,412 RBI, 118 OPS+, -18.1 dWAR
Core Accolades: Six-time All-Star, 2005 ALCS MVP, one Top Five MVP finish
Konerko is always going to have far more value to us as White Sox fans than to baseball as a whole. But PK isn’t getting cheated; by WAR standards, he pales compared to two dozen other candidates alongside him. In perspective, just picking a random one-and-done player from last year’s ballot, even Ted Lilly had more career WAR than Konerko. But Konerko was a clutch performer who vastly outperformed his natural athletic ability (no dis, but PK was never close to a five-tool guy). One area he deserves massive credit is for his play in the clutch: His too-brief postseason career, excepting his initial foray into the playoffs in 2000, was megatop delicious: OPSs of 1.000, .937, .868 and 1.040 in his four final series.
Cliff Lee Left-Handed Starting Pitcher Cleveland, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners bWAR: 43.5 fWAR: 48.9 WARP: 40.9 aWAR: 44.4 B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Jered Weaver (94.7%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 132nd
Core Stats: 143-91, 601 SV, 3.52 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 29 CG, 12 SHO, 1,824 K, 1.196 WHIP, 118 ERA+
Core Accolades: 2008 AL Cy Young, four-time All-Star, two Top 5 Cy Young finishes
For a while there, it seemed Lee would be a lock for the Hall. He had a Lucas Giolito-esque turnaround from 2007 to 2008, going from also-ran to Cy Young — but the southpaw turned 30 after that miraculous year, and even a dynamite five seasons to come couldn’t build up the resume before his arm gave out. Lee was a very, very good postseason pitcher, with a 2.52 ERA in 82 career innings, a 0.927 WHIP and 1.80 WPA.
Roy Oswalt Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies bWAR: 50.1 fWAR: 52.4 WARP: 58.8 aWAR: 53.8 Last year’s SSS vote: 8.3%
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Adam Wainwright (97.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 102nd
Core Stats: 163-102, 57 CG, 3.36 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 1,852 K, 1.21 WHIP, 127 ERA+
Core Accolades: 2005 NLCS MVP, three-time All-Star, five Top 5 Cy Young finishes
Ironically enough, fellow longtime Astros teammate Berkman and Oswalt finished their careers with nearly the same aWAR. Oswalt was a transcendent starter with Houston, piling up five top-five Cy Young finishes in his first six seasons, and then just hitting a wall once he turned 30. He was runner-up as NL Rookie of the Year to none less than Albert Pujols in 2001, when he burst on the scene with a 4.7 bWAR in just 20 starts. His Top 10 similarity scores at Baseball-Reference are littered with similar borderline-HOF pitchers, including Ron Guidry, Jered Weaver Bret Saberhagen, Lee and Jon Lester.
Carlos Peña First Baseman Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Oakland A’s, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals bWAR: 25.1 fWAR: 18.9 WARP: 14.7 aWAR: 19.6 B-R Most Similar Hitter: Chris Davis (95.1%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 1B: 91st
Core Stats: .232/.346/.462, 286 HR, 117 OPS+
Core Accolades: One-time All-Star, one Gold Glove, one Silver Slugger
Let’s be honest, a guy with a B-R comp most close to Chris Davis isn’t getting in the Hall anytime soon. But Peña was a solid performer for many years, filling a decent niche as a power bat who could field his position OK. Peña was a late bloomer, only coming into his own at 29, in Tampa (already his fifth team). Had he put his power stroke together sooner, you can easily imagine a Konerko or Carlos Delgado career. Also, not bad in the playoffs: .910 OPS in 19 games.
Brad Penny Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox bWAR: 19.0 fWAR: 26.7 WARP: 28.0 aWAR: 24.6 B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Charles Nagy (96.1%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 494th
Core Stats: 121-101, 4.29 ERA, 4.12 FIP, 1.376 WHIP, 99 ERA+
Core Accolades: Two-time All-Star, one Top 5 Cy Young finish
Penny had a peak, in the middle of his Dodgers tenure, approaching age 30: two All-Star games and a Top 5 Cy Young finish. But aside from that, he was a fairly pedestrian pitcher, as indicated by his shade-worse-than average ERA+.
Andy Pettitte Left-Handed Starting Pitcher New York Yankees, Houston Astros bWAR: 60.3 fWAR: 68.9 WARP: 61.7 aWAR: 63.6 Last year’s SSS vote: 15.3%
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: C.C. Sabathia (93.6%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 91st
Core Stats: 256-153, 3.85 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 2,448 K, 1.17 WHIP, 135 ERA+
Core Accolades: 2001 ALCS MVP, three-time All-Star, four Top 5 Cy Young finishes
Pettitte just couldn’t say no to the Yankees, which in my book knocks him down a few notches. Seriously, he moved on to his hometown Astros after eight seasons in the Bronx, but after three seasons in a 10-gallon hat, came back for four more seasons with the Yankees, retired, then came back for two more seasons with the Yankees. Add to that his use of HGH to recover from a 2003 elbow injury, lying about it, some weirdness in defense (or the opposite) re: Clemens’ HGH use … and boy oh boy, do you have a soap opera. Factoring in the customary “East Coast bias,” Pettitte might be the rare candidate given more than his due from the first vote forward. That said, Pettitte was a splendid southpaw, and like onetime teammate Mike Mussina, might have retired a season or two too young (at 41, Pettitte gathered a 2.2 bWAR off of a 3.74 ERA/3.70 FIP, 30 starts and 185 ⅓ innings). But even his ballyhooed postseason record is a bit overblown; over 14 seasons/32 series, Pettitte made 44 starts, going 19-11, but with a fairly pedestrian 3.81 ERA, 6 ⅓ innings per start, and zero complete games. Not really a hero, but certainly a star pupil.
J.J. Putz Right-Handed Relief Pitcher Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, New York Mets bWAR: 13.1 fWAR: 10.2 WARP: 11 aWAR: 11.4 B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Mark Melancon (96.3%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RP: 145th
Core Stats: 37-33, 189 SV, 3.08 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 1.152 WHIP, 138 ERA+
Core Accolades: One-time All-Star, Rolaids Reliever of the Year
Putz was more than just a pedestrian reliever, which helps explain his 12 years in the majors, finishing no fewer than six games in any one of them. He came to the White Sox in 2010, after a season in Queens that could have spelled the end of his career at just 32. Instead, he put up the third-best value of his career (in a setup role) and parlayed that into a four-year, $22 million deal with the Diamondbacks.
Manny Ramirez Left Fielder/Right Fielder Cleveland, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays bWAR: 69.4 fWAR: 66.3 WARP: 72.5 aWAR: 69.4 Last year’s SSS vote: 37.1% B-R Most Similar Hitter: Frank Thomas (86.5%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF: 10th
Core Stats: .312/.411/.585, 2,574 H, 555 HR, 1,831 RBI, 154 OPS+, -21.7 dWAR
Core Accolades: 2004 World Series MVP, 12-time All-Star, nine Silver Sluggers, four Top 5 MVP finishes
For all the stuff you can say about Manny, you have to include that he was a helluva hitter. In seven straight seasons (1999-2005), Ramirez won a Silver Slugger, was an All-Star, and finished in the top 10 of MVP voting. Overall, he was a 12-time All-Star, won nine Silver Sluggers, and earned MVP votes in 11 of his 18 seasons. His 10 closest comps on Baseball-Reference are, basically, all Hall-of-Famers. Manny’s dominance extended to the postseason as well, where he hit 29 homers and put up a .937 OPS in 111 career playoff games. Given his general lackadaisical attitude toward, well, everything, and multiple positive PED tests, Manny’s brief, end-of-career stint as a coach was … entertaining.
Brian Roberts Second Baseman Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees bWAR: 30.4 fWAR: 29.7 WARP: 26.4 aWAR: 28.8 B-R Most Similar Hitter: Ronnie Belliard (90.7%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 2B: 58th
Core Stats: .276/.347/.409, 97 HR, 542 RBI, 285 SB, 101 OPS+
Core Accolades: Two-time All-Star
Roberts was a longtime Oriole, a pesky player who had one extraordinary season (7.3 bWAR in 2005, second in the AL behind Alex Rodriguez, which earned Roberts … 18th place in MVP voting!). Looking at Roberts’ career, it’s tempting to comp him with ex-White Sox grinder Scott Fletcher, but the stats don’t bear that out. However, the two players ended with similar career WARs, with Fletcher boasting more longevity and solid seasons.
Scott Rolen Third Baseman Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays bWAR: 70.2 fWAR: 69.9 WARP: 64.5 aWAR: 68.2 Last year’s SSS vote: 40.5%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Matt Holliday (88.6%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 3B: 10th
Core Stats: .281/.364/.490, 2,077 H, 316 HR, 1,287 RBI, 118 SB, 122 OPS+, 21.2 dWAR
Core Accolades: 1997 NL Rookie of the Year, seven-time All-Star, eight Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger, one Top 5 MVP finish
Rolen beat out future luminaries like Andruw Jones and Vladimir Guerrero for 1997 NL Rookie of the Year. His calling card was defense, and was an eight-time Gold Glove winner, taking his final award at age 35, in his last fully healthy season. He was a seven-time All-Star, yet one legitimate argument against Rolen’s enshrinement is his earning MVP votes in just four seasons (never finishing better than fourth).
Johan Santana Left-Handed Starting Pitcher Minnesota Twins, New York Mets bWAR: 51.6 fWAR: 45.3 WARP: 53.5 aWAR: 50.1 Last year’s SSS vote: 8.3%
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: David Price (96.4%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 81st
Core Stats: 139-78, 3.20 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 1,988 K, 1.13 WHIP, 136 ERA+
Core Accolades: 2004 and 2006 AL Cy Young, four-time All-Star, one Gold Glove, three Top 5 Cy Young finishes
Santana was an incendiary starter, but burned out fast. He won two Cy Youngs, in 2004 and 2006, and received votes for the award in six straight seasons (2003-08). During Santana’s peak stretch from 2004-06, he accumulated an otherworldly 23.5 bWAR. The southpaw’s hopes may be tied into some veteran’s committee of the future, but he deserves more serious consideration than he’s getting currently, thanks to the unholy backlog of worthy candidates who now pop up on the ballot every year.
Curt Schilling Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros bWAR: 79.6 fWAR: 79.8 WARP: 100.7 aWAR: 86.7 Last year’s SSS vote: 56.1%
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Kevin Brown (92.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 27th Core Stats: 216-146, 83 CG, 3.46 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 3,116 K, 1.14 WHIP, 127 ERA+ Core Accolades: 2001 World Series MVP, 1993 NLCS MVP, six-time All-Star, four Top 5 Cy Young finishes
Like 2019 Hall-of-Famer Mussina, Schilling began his career in the late 1980s, in the Baltimore Orioles system. Like Mussina, Schilling finished his career with an aWAR of 86 and change. And also like Moose, Schilling is a deserving Hall of Fame candidate unduly frozen out of Cooperstown. Unlike Mussina, Schilling has been frozen out for an understandable, if inapplicable, reason: hateful and vitriolic rhetoric. But we’re not voting for a set of worldviews here, we’re judging a baseball career. And Schilling’s was impeccable. He was a six-time All-Star and earned MVP votes in four different seasons. He was a top-four Cy Young finisher — each coming after he turned 30. Amazingly, about three-quarters of his career WAR came after he turned 30. Schilling also was a postseason hero, beyond the bloody sock of debatable veracity; in his career, he pitched to a 2.23 ERA and .97 WHIP in 19 starts (12 series), going 11-2 with four complete games. And if you throw out just two godawful ALCS series efforts, his playoff numbers would be borderline supernatural.
Gary Sheffield Right Fielder/Left Fielder/Third Baseman Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers, San Diego Padres, New York Mets bWAR: 60.5 fWAR: 62.1 WARP: 74.9 aWAR: 65.8 Last year’s SSS vote: 31.9%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Chipper Jones (89.2%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RF: 23rd
Core Stats: .292/.393/.514, 2,689 H, 509 HR, 1,676 RBI, 253 SB, 140 OPS+, -27.7 dWAR
Core Accolades: Nine-time All-Star, five Silver Sluggers, three Top 5 MVP finishes
Sheffield was, simply put, a devastating hitter. He was a nine-time All-Star and five-time Sliver Slugger winner, seven times earning MVP votes (six of those being top-10 finishes). But with Sheffield, his use of “the cream” with Barry Bonds damns some of his amazing accomplishments, as does a mid-30s stretch of dominance that defied any expected aging curve (75 homers and 253 RBIs at age 34-35). He also had only modest postseason success: .248/.401/.398 in 44 career games. Finally, Sheffield being shuffled among teams — traded five times, all told — also undercuts his case.
Alfonso Soriano Left Fielder/Second Baseman Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals bWAR: 28.2 fWAR: 38.9 WARP: 40.8 aWAR: 36.0 B-R Most Similar Hitter: Dale Murphy (87.7%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF: 68th
Core Stats: .270/.319/.500, 2.095 H, 412 HR, 1,152 R, 1.159 RBI, 289 SB, 112 OPS+, -10.3 dWAR
Core Accolades: Seven-time All-Star, four Silver Sluggers, one Top 5 MVP finish
Soriano’s best tribute, like Abreu, is his power-speed factor, as just one of four 40-40 players in history and a member of the 400 HR/250 steals club for his career as well, something just six other players have accomplished. Unfortunately, Soriano’s offensive value was offset by loathsome defense — he led the AL in errors at second base for five consecutive seasons before, mercifully, being pastured out to left field (where he posted actual positive dWAR in his first two seasons after the switch).
Sammy Sosa Right Fielder Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles bWAR: 58.6 fWAR: 60.1 WARP: 62.6 aWAR: 60.4 Last year’s SSS vote: 14.1%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Jim Thome (86.3%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RF: 18th
Core Stats: .273/.344/.534, 2,408 H, 609 HR, 1,667 RBI, 234 SB, 128 OPS+
Core Accolades: 1998 NL MVP, seven-time All-Star, six Silver Sluggers, one Top 5 MVP finishes
Look at Sosa’s and Sheffield’s remarkably similar core stats, it’s a bit uncanny. As will be forever noted on these pages, Sosa isn’t helped among a fairly White Sox-centered electorate by being perhaps the best player the team has ever traded away. His unbearable hamminess and seeming insincerity won’t win him points, either. He did, however, have an impossibly good stretch of nine seasons on the north side, and overall he was as seven-time All-Star, six-time Silver Slugger, and the 1998 NL MVP (six other times he earned votes, all in top-10 finishes). Of course, Sosa is also a suspected (heh) PED user — but while it’s presumed, like other juicers, Sosa just fell off the end of the Earth, his final season, back in Texas, yielded 21 homers and 92 RBIs at age 38.
José Valverde Right-Handed Relief Pitcher Arizona Diamondbacks, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, New York Mets bWAR: 11.5 fWAR: 8.6 WARP: 9.9 aWAR: 10.0 B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Brad Lidge (95.5%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RP: 183rd
Core Stats: 27-33, 288 SV, 3.27 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 1.196 WHIP, 133 ERA+
Core Accolades: Three-time All-Star, two Rolaids Relievers of the Year, one Top 5 Cy Young finish
Relievers are not a coveted Hall of Fame property, and Valverde is the least of them on this ballot. There’s almost no way for him to meet the 5% hurdle to survive another year.
Omar Vizquel Shortstop Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays bWAR: 45.6 fWAR: 42.4 WARP: 38.4 aWAR: 42.1 Last year’s SSS vote: 19.9%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Luis Aparicio (87.9%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SS: 42nd
Core Stats: .272/.336/.356, 2,877 H, 80 HR, 951 RBI, 404 SB, 82 OPS+, 29.5 dWAR
Core Accolades: Three-time All-Star, 11 Gold Gloves
I love Vizquel. He was a great player, and with interests in art and fashion, a renaissance man. But a Hall-of-Famer? Well, that’s another thing entirely. Obviously, he doesn’t stack up on offense (82 OPS+), where even his value as a baserunner is suspect in spite of 404 career steals. Defensively, Vizquel was without peer, earning 11 Gold Gloves. He was a very rare star whose defensive WAR nearly eclipsed his offensive value. His seeming support from the old-school voters is curious, given he wasn’t regarded very highly by them when Vizquel was active; in just one season (1999) did Vizquel earn MVP votes — and he finished 16th.
Billy Wagner Left-Handed Relief Pitcher Houston Astros, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox bWAR: 27.7 fWAR: 24.1 WARP: 28.0 aWAR: 26.6 Last year’s SSS vote: 7%
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Francisco Rodriguez (90.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RP: 19th
Core Stats: 47-40, 422 SV, 2.31 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 1,196 K, 0.99 WHIP, 187 ERA+
Core Accolades: Seven-time All-Star, one Rolaids Reliever Awards, one Top 5 Cy Young finish
Wagner should have celebrated Hoffman getting elected to Cooperstown, because if Hoffman has a case, Wagner has 99% of the very same case, and will eventually break through. He has some impeccable stats, including that 187 ERA+ (per B-R, the best of any southpaw with 500-plus appearances). It’s always impressive to see a closer who can dominate for a decade-plus. Personally, I am not moved by any closer’s case for the Hall, but cap-tip to Wagner as an all-time great. He earned MVP votes in two seasons, and Cy Young votes in two as well, in addition to being a seven-time All-Star. One negative: Wagner was terrible (10.03 ERA) in 14 career postseason games.
Larry Walker Right Fielder Colorado Rockies, Montreal Expos, St. Louis Cardinals bWAR: 72.7 fWAR: 68.7 WARP: 68.3 aWAR: 69.9 Last year’s SSS vote: 61.7%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Duke Snider (88.9%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RF: 10th
Core Stats: .313/.400/.565, 2,160 H, 383 HR, 1,311 RBI, 230 SB, 141 OPS+
Core Accolades: 1997 NL MVP, five-time All-Star, seven Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, one Top 5 MVP finish
OK, so this is it for Walker, his last year on the regular Hall of Fame ballot. Walker catches a lot of hell for not playing full seasons, but this isn’t the complete-seasons Hall of Fame, it’s the who-kicks-the-most-ass HOF. And Walker kicked plenty. Look at that friggin’ slash line! Now, wipe the drool from your chin. Walker also gets dinked for playing about 30% of his career games a mile high in Denver, but c’mon, his career OPS on the road is .865. Walker was the NL MVP in 1997 and received MVP votes in seven other seasons. And in case you want to look at him solely as a bat, like Ramirez or Sheffield, think again: Walker was a seven-time Gold Glove winner in right field, representing roughly half of his MLB seasons.
OK, 5,000 words later, please consider all 36 candidates. You may vote for up to 10 players. Any player who falls short of 5% in polling will be eliminated from next year’s ballot.
Just like with the BBWAA voting, you’re encouraged to make your vote public in the comments below, so we can debate the merits of a ballot overfilled with worthy candidates. Voting closes in 10 days, with the results released in a post on January 20.
Sure, it was a meaningless game, but it was also the last time the White Sox ended a season with a record better than .500. That wasn’t particularly inspiring at the time, because the White Sox had led the division until a week before, but looking back, a mere September collapse was the best of times. Plus, the score was significant — 9-0 being the official score of a baseball forfeit, given that the Sox would as good as forfeit the rest of the decade. The game itself had its moments – Gavin Floyd pitched seven innings of three-hit ball for his 12th victory of the season; Paulie and Dayan Viciedo hit dingers; the immortal Dan Johnson slammed three homers and picked up five RBIs, bringing his season total to six; and Adam Dunn improved the game significantly by not playing. (Yeah, yeah, that was his 41-homer year. So what?) — Leigh Allan
There were two games that immediately jumped to mind, one sad, another happy. The sad one came in September 2011 in Kansas City, when manager Ozzie Guillén and I, both of us sensing it would be our last days together before setting off into other endeavors beyond the White Sox, sat alone and commiserated over our fates and futures for about 20 minutes in the visiting manager’s office of Kauffman Stadium. But I’m choosing the happier one, instead. And that game is a June win in Chicago, my first game on the White Sox beat. I was a week or so from riding in the Blackhawks Stanley Cup parade, finishing up my one-and-done year on that beat before jumping right into the White Sox job for CSN Chicago. I’d covered the White Sox before, but never as a permanent job, and after writing stories for the beat-less Comcast during the Hawks playoff run — some even on a Blackberry after my netbook exploded in San Jose — I sort of forced my way into a dream job on the White Sox beat. It was the start of a two-year run with the team that was hard as hell, but a glorious and lucky time for me. I recall no details of the game beyond an early offensive assault and the win pushing the team over .500, but I hopped on the beat with the White Sox in the midst of a six-game winning streak, and from there my pugnacious prose helped compel the club to jump from third to first place during a 14-5 run (20 of 25 wins overall) that made me think, briefly, that after a first Stanley Cup in 49 years and now a 20-5 run with my new Chicago team, I was some sort of lucky charm. Of course, I was proven wrong by September 2010, but this season — and this game — will always be a magical memory for me. — Brett Ballantini
White Sox 4, Tigers 3 July 23, 2016
It was a day that was supposed to feature a cool retro jersey: the 1976 navy pajama top. Me and a group of friends normally went to the cool promotional games — the Hawaiian shirt games, jersey giveaways, steins, etc. — because the promotions have been the best thing about the Sox the past decade. If it is a cool promotion, we will be there. So, we mainly went to that game in July for the giveaway, but with the trade deadline nearing, we also understood it could be Chris Sale’s last game at Sox Park. While we were in line waiting to get into the park among what was a pretty good crowd, we all got phone alerts via Twitter, multiple reports coming in that Sale would not be starting the game. Immediately, we all turned to each other and asked if he was traded. As the line got moving, more and more fans were looking at their phones and turning to their group, all equally confused.
Now, my friends and I wanted a rebuild (and still support it), so we were giddy that a potential trade was in the works. A pitcher scratched from a start in late July surely made it seem like a trade was imminent. As confusion permeated the lines and the stadium, we collected our retro jerseys at the turnstiles and went upstairs to our seats. Looking back now, we should have noticed something obvious: The Sox were not wearing the 1976 jerseys, they instead were in the 1983s. But we did not think anything of it at the time (you can say we were stupid, and I will admit we were/are). As game time grew closer, the story became clear: Chris Sale was not traded; he threw a temper tantrum. He cut up the jerseys the Sox were supposed to wear on that day.
Once that information found its way to our laps, we all just laughed and laughed. In the same year where the Sox had the Drake Laroche debacle, another White Sox childish display was the talk of baseball. Because Sale did not start, Robin Ventura had to go to an impromptu bullpen day, and the bullpen did very well: Matt Albers, Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle, Zach Duke, Nate Jones and David Robertson went all-out to get through the day and on to the next. The Tigers were able to put up three runs in eight innings, including a blown save by Jones. Meanwhile, the Sox offense did just enough. Avisaíl García drove in two runs through the first eight innings, with a home run. Dioner Navarro doubled in another run. It was a rainy day by the end of the game, so we left before the game was suspended after the eighth inning, and we did not go back for the ninth the next day, when Adam Eaton ended the game with an RBI single.
But the game was really a second act on the day: The real story was Sale’s. He ended up being suspended for five games, missing one turn in the rotation. But looking back now, that day must have made it much easier for the front office to trade him in the upcoming offseason. For me and my friends, we do not remember much about the game, but we all have vivid memories of the shock we all had once the true story came out, punctuated by the team wearing 1983s instead of 1976s.
The 2016 team was not all that bad, but it was the most embarrassing season to be a Sox fan in recent memory. This game was the exclamation point. — Darren Black
The youngest Gore scored his first-ever White Sox game at the tail end of 2019. (Leonard Gore)
White Sox 5, Angels 1 Sept. 8, 2019
Since nothing of any baseball importance happened during the seven years of the decade a White Sox fan was the POTUS, I’ll go with a personal choice that just snuck in under the wire. Sept. 8, 2019 was a completely forgettable and insignificant Sox 5-1 win over a Trout-less Angels team. José Abreu homered; Danny Mendick homered (the first of his career!); Dylan Cease was wild (of course); and every starter got a hit except for Adam Engel (of course-of course). But what made it most memorable for me was the fact that it was my son’s first ever White Sox game! And frankly, I didn’t spend much time watching this game because I was happy to have him with me. We watched a couple of innings, met Ron Kittle outside the park (of course-of course-of-course), and spent most of the game in the Fundamentals Kids Zone in left field doing all the baseball activities over and over. My dad and brother also were there, so it was three generations of Gore boys to enjoy a day that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. — Leonard Gore
I don’t actually remember what happened in this game, a day game to end a miserable, 99-loss season. I suspect no other White Sox fan recalls anything interesting about this game, either. There was nothing memorable on the field that day. My scorecard tells me a few things: Jose Quintana didn’t pitch badly, scattering six hits —unfortunately, two of those hits were home runs after giving up walks. He typically got no offensive support, with Alexei Ramírez scoring the only Sox run with a dinger in the fourth inning. The scorecard also shows that I stopped keeping score midway through the seventh.
Baseball-Reference fills in the rest for me: Game time was 2:34, attendance 22,633. The day before, the White Sox had won for the first time in five games, ensuring that fans wouldn’t endure 100 losses. It was a sweet fall day, 68 degrees and cloudy, with a 9 mph wind out to center field. In my memory, the day is warmer and sunnier, but memory is tricky like that.
This game from the 2010s will always stand out starkly in my mind because it was my father’s last. He would die three weeks later. (Among the many thoughts going through my head at that time was, absurdly, “At least he didn’t have to watch 100 losses.”)
White Sox staff got Dad a wheelchair, helped him to our right field section, and assisted my mother in settling him into a seat, showing nothing but kindness during it all. Dad’s handwriting is there on my scorecard, guessing 18,793 for that day’s attendance (beating my guess by 419 and waxing Mom by more than 4,000). We sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and then left. Dad was sick, and the Sox clearly weren’t going to win anyway. Even in his pain, Dad probably would have insisted on staying if they’d been in the lead. By this point in his illness, the various surgeries had made it difficult for Dad to speak. It frustrated him, a man of ideas and eloquence. It frustrated me, who had always wanted to hear what my father had to say. But the universe gave us both one last gift on that otherwise unmemorable day. In the first inning, a waft of polish sausage and onions drifts our way from a nearby stand, and a vendor walks by trailing the scent of popcorn. That 9 mph wind sends the smell of outfield grass into the air. My father breathes deeply, turns to me, and with great effort says, “It smells like baseball.” — Laura Jansen (Lurker Laura)
White Sox 9, Rays 6 April 25, 2014
Looking for the best White Sox game of the decade was no easy task. But after digging through the dumpster fire of the last decade that was White Sox baseball, I stumbled across April 25, 2014, an evening affair against the Rays that produced some nice fireworks.
Cut to the top of the ninth at U.S. Cellular Field, as Evan Longoria smashed a two-run dinger off of Matt Lindstrom to straightaway center field, breaking a 4-4 tie. Things were looking grim for the Sox, but they got through the rest of the inning unscathed. Then in the bottom of the ninth, with two on and one out, Paul Konerko walked to load the bases. Adam Eaton was up next, and narrowly avoided hitting into a double play to end the game, just beating out the throw at first as a run scored. Grant Balfour then walked Marcus Semien to load the bases once again, setting the stage for José Abreu.
Abreu did not disappoint, smashing a walk-off grand slam into the bullpen in right center field, his second dinger of the game. Ballgame!!! This game set the stage for six years of heroics from José, as he’s been the star who has shined the brightest during that time for the White Sox. — Scott Reichard (guitarsox)
The Tank and The Donkey, celebrating the moments of their lives.
The White Sox were fresh off a sweep of the mighty New York Yankees, who finished the season with the best record in the American League. So things were looking up for the White Sox, who held a two-game lead in the AL Central. The mediocre Mariners visited The Cell, and the White Sox broke through early and often against starter Jason Vargas. Even free agent bust Adam Dunn went deep, as the White Sox chased Vargas from the game after only four innings, leading 6-2 when Vargas departed. The White Sox tacked on one more against the bullpen to take a 7-2 lead.
Meanwhile, Jake Peavy settled in nicely, allowing only two runs in seven innings. Matt Thornton took care of business in a drama-free eighth inning, and it appeared the Mariners would go down quietly. However, the ninth inning was far from drama-free. Robin Ventura made an odd decision to have Philip Humber start the ninth inning. Though Humber had thrown a perfect game a few months earlier, his performance between the perfect game and this outing was rough: a 6.67 ERA and .284/.363/.518 slash against him. Ventura’s strange decision did not pay off on this warm, August night, as Humber’s struggles continued: a leadoff home run and walk before departing with one out. In to pitch stepped Donnie Veal, who allowed a double to the first and only batter he faced.
But, it was OK, as the White Sox still led 7-3, and Seattle’s tying run was still on deck. Addison Reed, who came in to pitch after Veal, had room for error. Unfortunately, Reed could not get the job done, allowing four of his first five hitters to reach base safely, and the final hit was costly. John Jaso’s single gave the Mariners an 8-7 lead and took the wind out of many fans’ sails.
Luckily, the White Sox offense woke back up, as they solved Seattle’s Tom Wilhelmsen. Kevin Youkilis hit an RBI single to tie the game, and Paul Konerko won it with a base hit into right-center to score Dewayne Wise. This was the wildest game I have ever seen in person, and I am thankful that I was able to attend. In the bottom of the eighth, one of my friends was wondering aloud if we should take off early and beat the traffic. Mercy, I sure am glad that we did not listen. — Joe Resis
OK, so this clip doesn’t feature the Yolmer Homer, but it does include a Yolmer two-bagger and a cameo from our own traveling win streak, Ashley Sanders.
White Sox 9, Rays 2 July 19, 2019
Although it has been a very disappointing decade for the Chicago White Sox, there have been many games worth celebrating. For my favorite game of the 2010s, like many of us I’m picking among games I attended. Of those 29 games, July 19, 2019 in St. Pete against the Tampa Bay Rays is my reigning favorite. A 9-2 squelching of Tampa Bay included a Yolmer Homer — and those are legendary! Reynaldo López pitched seven innings, the Sox tallied 17 hits, and it was an electric victory that ended a seven-game losing streak. Whenever the pitching and hitting are so in sync, it creates an all-around fantastic game! — Ashley Sanders
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.