White Sox All-Time Lineups
Recently, I was taken by a particular book written by Rob Neyer. It is a book I have owned for a few years called The Big Book Of Baseball Lineups. It includes Neyer’s picks for each franchise’s best lineup by position, second best lineup by position, best lineup by single season statistics and best lineup by rookie seasons. I read it in it’s entirety a while ago, but have rediscovered it among my collection of books. I find myself disagreeing with him on a few things, but that’s to be expected with any “best ever” list. Neyer’s book only goes to 2002, so using player stats from 2003-2010 will lead to some different results. Taking from his ideas, I will post my best team by position and best team by single year statistics for the Chicago White Sox. Feel free to disagree with me. I hope this leads to good discussion. These lists are just my opinion, and everyone is entitled to their own. To explain a bit about how I am choosing players by position: The statistics I list for players will only include years in which they played said position more than any other position. This may omit years from their overall statistics, but is necessary to make it a pure list. White Sox All-Time Lineup By Position
DH – Jim Thome(2006-2009): During his seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Jim Thome hit .265/134/372(.265/34/93 a season) with a .929 OPS featuring a .390 OBP. Frank Thomas’ DH years don’t match up to this type of consistent output(.274/24/76 season avgs from 1998-2005). Through 2002, Neyer had Greg Luzinski as the top DH in Sox history for no other reason than he was strong.
C – Carlton Fisk(1981-1993): Already a legend when he changed his Sox, Fisk stepped right in and played great ball. He put up the line of .257/214/762 .766 OPS. His statistics are very similar with other big name Sox catchers Pierzynski and Lollar. In fact, some of their stats are almost identical. However, Fisk’s stats are higher in more areas and if you’re looking at players who are similar, you have to go with a guy who’s stats are better. It’s really amazing that three catchers from three different eras could put up almost identical stat lines. The home runs for Fisk are the statistic that most stands out, and broke the tie.
1B – Frank Thomas(1990, 1992-1997): During his rookie season, he batted .330. Then from 1992-1997, he was arguably the best hitter in MLB. 1991 had to be omitted because he played a lot more DH than 1B. During this stretch he hit .332/225/745(.332/32/106) with a 1.066 OPS. Frank Thomas was an easy pick here. Rob Neyer also selected Frank Thomas.
2B – Eddie Collins(1915-1926): Picked up by the White Sox a year after winning the MVP award with the Athletics, he instantly became a legend in the Sox uniform. In his first season with the Sox, he hit .332/4/77 with 46 SBs, a league leading 119 walks and a .460 OBP. Over his tenure with the White Sox, he hit .331/31/804 with a .426 OBP, 368 SB, 2007 hits, 1065 runs scored and 205 K/965 BB. Rob Neyer also selected Collins for 2B.
SS – Luke Appling(1930-1950): A lifetime Sock, Old Aches & Pains hammered out some of the best seasons ever for probably the worst stretch of teams the White Sox have ever put together in their history. He put up career statistics of .310/45/1116 with an amazing .399 OBP, 2749 hits, 102 triples and 528 K/1302 BB. He is quite possibly the least talked about great player in MLB history. Rob Neyer also selected Appling.
3B – Robin Ventura(1989-1998): Robin Ventura was an important part of the White Sox in the 1990s as the anchor at third base. He hit .274/171/741(.274/17/74) with an .805 OPS. He played solid defense. I selected him slightly over Bill Melton who in far fewer at bats with the Sox than Robin, put up pretty good and similar type statistics. I would also point out that Joe Crede is the best fielding third basemen we have had. Rob Neyer also selected Ventura.
LF – Shoeless Joe Jackson(1915-1920): From the second half of 1915 to 1920, Joe Jackson became a White Sox legend and the symbol of the Black Sox scandal, unfairly I might add. He hit .340/30/426 with a .403 OBP and .906 OPS. He had a 3-to-1 BB/K ratio. He ran out 79 triples. He made play after play in LF. He may have had his best years for Cleveland, but he was certainly not a slouch in his service to the White Sox. Neyer selected Jackson for LF.
CF – Fielder Jones(1901-1908): This is probably the weakest position for the White Sox in team history. Not one player who played for a while at this position for the Sox put up amazing statistics. Fielder Jones was mostly a singles hitter who stole bases. His line was .269/10/375 with a .683 OPS but his evident in his ability to hit, steal and score. He also managed the 1906 squad to it’s first World Series championship. Aaron Rowand didn’t play for us long enough to accumulate great statistics and Lance Johnson was about the same as Fielder Jones without the managing. It wouldn’t be hard for a semi-good CF in the future to play 5 or 6 seasons for the Sox and become the greatest Sox CF in team history. Neyer also went with Jones.
RF – Jermaine Dye(2005-2009): I realize he did not come close to playing as long for the Sox as Harold Baines, who is held in very high esteem by all Sox fans. However, Jermaine Dye had much better output for the Sox than Baines did in comparison. Dye hit .278/164/461 with a .869 OPS. Until really his last season, he played solid defense. Baines is more of an accumulation player than a player with great output, or .288/15/70 average for his 14 seasons with the Sox. Jermaine Dye’s averages were .278/33/92 in 5 seasons with a better OPS.
SP – Ed Walsh(1904-1916): Pretty clear choice for #1 starting pitcher. Ed Walsh won a World Series and posted the lowest career ERA in MLB history at 1.82(1.81 for the Sox). He went 195-125 with a 1.81 ERA and 0.995 WHIP. His 7.1 H/9 was also great for a career mark. He also had almost 3-to-1 K/BB. He posted 35 saves in relief. He pitched 249 complete games. Many of these marks will never be achieved again because we are in a different era and players are not expected to pitch until their arm falls off anymore. Neyer picked Walsh.
White Sox All-Time Team Best Seasons
DH – Jim Thome(2006): .288/42/109 1.014 OPS, 108 runs and 107 walks. A truly great season.
C – Carlton Fisk(1983): .289/26/86 .874 OPS, .518 SLG. He scored 85 runs and helped the team make their first post season appearance since 1959. In 1985, he hit 37 HRs and drove in 107 RBI, but with far inferior statistics overall to his 1983 season
1B – Frank Thomas(1994): .353/38/101 1.217 OPS, .729 SLG, 106 runs scored, 109 walks and an astronomical 211 OPS+. Due to the strike, he only got 399 at bats and still put up stats that many sluggers would like to have for an entire season. He was awarded his 2nd straight MVP award.
2B – Eddie Collins(1915): .332/4/77 .896 OPS, OBP of .460. League leading 119 walks and a solid 118 runs scored. Stole 46 bases.
SS – Luke Appling(1936): .388/6/128 .981 OPS, .474 OBP. You know a player had an amazing season at the plate if they can drive in 128 RBI on just 6 home runs. He also posted 204 hits, 111 runs scored and finished 2nd in MVP voting.
3B – Robin Ventura(1996): .287/34/105 .888 OPS. He scored 96 runs and stayed true to his career average of almost 1/1 K/BB. He won also won his fourth gold glove.
LF – Albert Belle(1998): .328/49/152 1.055 OPS, .655 slugging. His 49 HR and 152 RBI are White Sox single season records. He also posted exactly 200 hits and 113 runs scored. His 16 sac flies lead the league, as well as his 399 total bases and 171 OPS+. He should have won MVP, but the media(and myself) hated him as a person and he finished 8th(ridiculously biased voting).
CF – Aaron Rowand(2004): .310/24/69 .905 OPS. His .544 slugging was pretty solid. He scored 94 runs and stole 17 bases. Again, there haven’t been very many good CFs in White Sox history, and this really is the best overall season anyone has had in CF in our uniform.
RF – Jermaine Dye(2006): .315/44/120 1.006 OPS, .622 Slugging. He scored 103 runs and posted a 151 OPS+. He won silver slugger and was named an All Star. It’s really amazing that the White Sox only won 90 games having both Dye and Thome’s great statistics in 2006.
SP – Ed Walsh(1908): 40-15, 1.42 ERA, 42 complete games in 464 IP. He pitched 11 shutouts and struck out a league best 269. His 4.80 K/BB ratio also was a league best. These statistics are just ridiculously good and nobody will ever pitch anywhere close to these numbers for the Sox again.
***Bonus: Most Undeserved Bad Season***
Ed Walsh(1910): He pitched 369.2 innings, with 33 complete games, 1.27 ERA, 0.820 WHIP and lead the league with a 4.23 K/BB ratio. However, despite pitching great, he only went 18-20 on the season. That is the most unfair, undeserved bad season in White Sox history.