In the ’80s pop culture classic “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” two teenagers traveled back in time to kidnap some of history’s most famous people to help with their history assignment. Welcome to a life-long Sox fan’s version. Two key rules were followed in making these prestigious selections:
A player’s “name recognition” in MLB does not ensure him a spot on this list. Their contribution to the White Sox does. For example, David Wells’ 200+ career wins does not grant him a spot because he only threw 100 innings in a Sox uniform. For that matter, neither does Jake Peavy’s handful of innings last summer.
Slight bonus points given to anyone on the 2005 White Sox. Breaking an 88-year curse has to count for something.
Ray Durham- 2B
Aaron Rowand- CF
Paul Konerko- 1B
Frank Thomas- DH
Jermaine Dye- RF
Carlos Lee- LF
A.J. Pierzynski- C
Joe Crede- 3B
Jose Valentin- SS
Let’s look at some of the anticipated debates:
Ray Durham vs. Tadahito Iguchi
In the new millennium, “Ray Ray” played three seasons with the Sox. As a model of consistency, he built on his numbers from the 20th century while continuing to provide solid defense. While Iguchi played a key role in bringing us a World Championship, Durham’s overall numbers were slightly better over a longer period of time, especially in the speed department. Based on their service with the team this decade, Durham averaged 17 HRs, 70 RBIs, and 25 SBs per season, while Iguchi averaged 16.5 HRs, 69 RBIs, and 13 SBs.
Jermaine Dye vs. Magglio Ordonez
Both spent five seasons with the White Sox this decade, although Magglio’s last was cut short mid-season by a career-threatening knee injury. Let’s look at the decade totals:
Maggs: 139 HR, 510 RBI, 59 SB.
Dye: 164 HR, 461 RBI, 23 SB
While it could be argued that Ordonez’s numbers would have been superior had he not gotten injured, we must remember overall value to the team. Jermaine Dye was the 2005 World Series MVP and Magglio left the Sox after an attempted screw job by his agent Scott Boras. Care to debate that?
Frank Thomas vs. Jim Thome
The Big Hurt was the face of the franchise from 1991 to 2005. This is an undeniable fact. In 2005, he gave the Sox a much needed push, clubbing 12 homers over a 34 game span, while essentially playing on one foot. While Thome’s per-season average was better in all major categories, and Mr. Incredible clubbed the division-winning homer in 2008, Frank Thomas gets the edge here, if for no other reason than he played 15 of his 18 major league seasons with the White Sox. It would be a crime not to include him on this list.
Jose Valentin vs. Alexei Ramirez vs. Juan Uribe
Longevity wins here. Valentin had better offensive averages over five years vs. Ramirez’s two with the Sox. This especially holds true in the power department where “Jose, Jose Jose, Jose,” averaged 27 homers per season against Alexei’s 18. Neither have been spectacular defensively.
If defense were the only consideration, Juan Uribe would be the likely winner. Uribe’s defense floundered after the 2005 season but many would argue that his cannon arm and spectacular leather saved game four of the 2005 World Series.
Overall, when hitting in the clutch, it seemed Valentin was always the guy you wanted up at the plate, which also gives him my vote for this most prestigious honor.
Can any other position player on this list really be debated?
A.J. Pierzynski was a 2006 All-Star, the center of a controversial dropped third strike, 2005 ALCS game 2 rally, and garners praise for the way he calls games for his pitchers, He’s a workhorse of a catcher and really has no other competition unless you think Brook Fordyce or Charles Johnson’s one meaningless season counts.
Same can be said for Joe Crede and Aaron Rowand. Name any other Sox third baseman or centerfielder that even comes to mind this decade. Herbert Perry and Brian Anderson are not acceptable answers.
For those who immediately wanted to answer “Bacon,” or Gordon Beckham, I’m holding that vote for the next decade.
Scott Podsednik. His 141 SBs over 3.5 seasons with the Sox have to at least bring him into the conversation. His walk-off homer in game 2 of the 2005 World Series is still not enough to eclipse the player who was traded to get him, Carlos Lee.
Over five seasons with the Sox, Lee averaged 27 HRs, 94 RBIs and 12 SBs a season, pretty much locking him in. Sorry Scotty Pods.
ANYONE who would argue against Mark Buehrle being on this list should burn their White Sox fan club membership card. A perfect game and a no hitter pretty much makes this decision easy.
As a matter of fact, the only other other Sox pitcher this decade to put up solid numbers over multiple seasons was Jon Garland. In his 8-year career on the Southside, Garland racked up 106 wins in over 1600 IP, all of which were this decade. His career achievement earning him a place in the all-decade rotation was in 2005, where he went 18-10, with a 3.50 ERA and set his career high in IP (221).
Sweaty Freddy Garcia played with the White Sox two full seasons and in parts of two others between 2004-2009. In his two full seasons with the Sox, he racked up 31 wins in 66 starts, averaging just under seven innings per start.
John Danks’ rookie season may have left something to be desired, but he has posted solid seasons ever since with ERAs of 3.32 and 3.77 respectively. He twice has taken a no hitter into the seventh inning, and played a vital role in the White Sox 2008 Division Championship.
Anyone else who makes this list would be debatable at best:
In 2003, Esteban Loaiza went, 21-9, posting an exceptional 2.90 ERA and 207Ks in 226 IP. He was named an all-star that year, pretty much carrying the Sox on his shoulders early. Loaiza finished second in Cy Young voting that year and even earned MVP consideration. While Jose Contreras became the “big game” pitcher in 2005, especially during the play-offs and World Series, Loaiza’s year earns him the fifth starting slot.
One could argue Javier Vazquez’s three years with the Sox, especially his 2007 season where he went 15-8 with a 3.74 ERA earn him consideration. However, any Sox fan who witnessed Vazquez seemingly melt down after the sixth inning and never show up with his “A” game whenever the team needed him most, would rather gargle glass than add him to this prestigious list.
Gavin Floyd’s, 2008 season (17-8, 3.84 ERA), could garner him some support as well.
The Sox bullpen has been studs and duds this decade, making it almost impossible to develop an all-decade list. But there have been some stand-outs worthy of mention:
Bobby Jenks- Regardless of the weight issues or the scary way in which he closes games, being an effective closer for five years pretty much gives you a golden ticket to join this list. Combine that with a 3.21 ERA, 146 saves, and 273Ks in 289 IP and you really can’t argue otherwise.
From 2000-2003 Foulke was one of the better closers in baseball. He racked up 86 saves, never posted an ERA above 3. He received some CY Young consideration in 2001 when he saved 42 games and posted a 2.33 ERA.
There is no other lefthander (who doesn’t close) this decade that I would rather have on my roster than Thornton. 268 strikeouts in 249 IP over four seasons? Mercy.
Sure he was pretty much a one-year wonder, but in 2005 when Shingo Takatsu went from closer to batting practice pitcher, Hermanson fearlessly stepped into the closer’s role posting a 2.04 ERA in 57 IP. He also saved 34 games before going down with a back injury. The Sox would likely not have even made it to the playoffs if it were not for old lamb chop himself.
Played the vital “lefty specialist” role during four seasons with the Sox (2000-2003). In 2000, he led everyone posting a 2.93 ERA in 61 IP. Sure you can argue that Neal Cotts deserves this slot based on his 1.94 ERA in 2005, but Cotts was a train wreck in his three other seasons with the Sox, never posting an ERA below 5.17.
Well there you have it. So do you agree or disagree? Who do you feel was robbed by not being added to this list?