The Ultimate 'Which Shirsey Should I Buy?' Guide for 2015: AL Central Edition
Ultimate Shirsey Guide 2015: AL Central Edition
There is no bigger decision you can make as a fan than which shirsey you should buy. Because a shirsey isn't just a way of telling people, "I like this team and/or player." It's a statement of your identity as a fan and a human being. Besides, you never know when you'll run into your chosen player while wearing their name.
Do you love watching endless highlights of a singular star? Is your bedroom wallpaper with that player's photo?
Or are you a dreamer, living on the hopes of what-could-be while showing people grainy camera phone footage of the newest 18-year-old phenom in the Gulf Coast League?
Or are you the type of person that wants to be worshipped while in line for a hot dog five years from now when groups of fans gather around you and your shirsey, exalting you for your love of the utility infielders and clubhouse pranksters that dot the fringes of the 25-man roster?
These are all difficult decisions. Today, we help make those decisions a little easier. Click here to see AL East. And then continue for the AL Central:
Chicago White Sox
The Face: Chris Sale
While we won't argue with you if you're a homer-mad fan who wants to rock Jose Abreu's shirt following his 36-home run rookie season, Sale gets our vote thanks to his funky delivery and a few more years in the White Sox uniform. In five seasons, three as a starter, Sale has gone 44-29 with a 2.76 ERA -- that's 50% better than the park-adjusted league average in that time.
Even better, now's probably the last time to get this one before he collects his Cy Young Award. After all, over the last three seasons, Sale has finished sixth, fifth and third in the Cy voting. I'm no mathematician, but I'm pretty sure that means his time is coming.
It's also a way of saying, "I always wished Gumby was a Major League ballplayer:"
The Future: Carlos Rodon
Drafted third overall this past summer, Rodon's the choice for the fan who has been dying for the return of a Randy Johnson-quality slider.
Fan Favorite: Gordon Beckham
Beckham might never get back to the form he showed in his first taste of the Majors, when he hit .270/.347/.460 as a 22-year-old. But the team and its fans just can't quit him. After he was traded to the Angels in August, the White Sox have brought back the second baseman on a one-year, $2 million deal.
If you're someone who doesn't quit when the going gets tough, who sees things through to the end, then this is the one for you.
The Face: Corey Kluber
Sure, we may not have proof that Kluber is a baseball robot:
But if the robot uprising can throw curveballs like this, I don't think any of us will really mind when we're simply fuel sources for our machine overlords:
For all the lovers of curveballs, two-seamers and who process information in a series of 1s and 0s, put this one in your cart.
Though, if you're an on-base percentage nut, you could choose Carlos Santana. The catcher-turned-first-and-third baseman was incredibly valuable despite a .231 batting average last year thanks to his 113 walks.
The Future: Francisco Lindor/Clint Frazier (tie)
This one is a toss-up and will reveal a lot about how you prefer the game. Do you choose the acrobatic, slick-fielding Francisco Lindor, a player whose glove play will save dozens of runs a year?
Or do you choose Clint Frazier, the slugging center fielder with electric bat speed whose dingers will make infield defense wholly unnecessary?
And if you're a person who can't make up your mind, I guess you could buy two and stitch them together, creating a Frankensteinian Lindzier. That actually sounds great. Do that.
Fan Favorite: Nick Swisher
If you're in a frat, like hanging out with people in frats, or simply have taken to calling everyone including your grandmother "Bro," then pop a tab and pick up this one. Though you'll probably have to cut off the sleeves.
The Face: Justin Verlander
Are you someone who likes to live vicariously through the very best? Then Justin Verlander is the man for you. He throws roughly 18,000 pitches, collects awards like they're pogs (Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP -- that's the EGOT for a baseball player) and has a love of Taco Bell.
So, he's basically you -- if you were able to throw 95-mph fastballs, drop hammer curves and win awards other than, "Most Likely to Disappoint Your Parents."
The Future: Buck Farmer
While Derek Hill may take the honors as the team's top prospect, Buck Farmer isn't far behind. Seen as a future mid-rotation pitcher, Farmer made his debut in 2014 while pitching 9 1/3 innings. Of course, the real reason to get his shirsey is his amazing name.
This is also the shirsey for the person who uses the dating site restricted to those in the agriculture business. City folks just don't get it.
Fan Favorite: Jose Iglesias
For the ballet lover, last year was a little less bright. After breaking his leg, the defensive wizard that is Iglesias missed the full season, forcing you to go to the actual ballet which features, like, no home runs. Celebrate the return of Iglesias by renting Black Swan and picking up his tee.
Kansas City Royals
The Face: Alex Gordon
There was a time when Alex Gordon was The Future. Royals fans began dreaming of what would be as Gordon flew through the minor leagues, topping prospect lists in 2006 and '07. Unfortunately, Gordon's ascent to the Majors wasn't as easy. Through 2010, Gordon had hit only .245 with 45 home runs at the Major League level. Fortunately, there was a second act.
Since moving from third base to left field, Gordon has been one of the most productive players in the Majors, hitting .283/.356/.453 with 76 home runs and offering up some of the best left field defense in the game. All together, he's had the 7th-highest fWAR among position players since 2011.
He is also able to turn his body into a rag doll at a moment's notice:
If you believe in second chances, Gordon is your man.
The Future: Raul Adalberto Mondesi
There are hundreds of reasons to buy this one, but I'll give you four:
1. He is Raul Mondesi's son.
2. His name is Raul Mondesi.
3. Though only 19 and still adjusting to pro ball, Mondesi can do things like this:
4. Did I mention he's related to Raul Mondesi?
Barring getting a tattoo of a cannon on your arm, this is probably the best choice.
Fan Fest Fave: Erik Kratz
Is there any better way to show your devotion to the club than selecting the journeyman catcher who didn't reach the Majors until he was 30 years old? Who still managed to crack some dingers when he did get to play last season despite playing behind the most-innings-caught-in-a-single-season Salvador Perez?
For late bloomers, hard workers and those who don't require accolades to find meaning in their work, Kratz is for you.
Also, his name is Kratz. And that's just fun to say.
The Face: Joe Mauer
If you've found yourself trimming your sideburns while drinking a frosty glass of milk, well, you're either Joe Mauer or you need his shirt.
The Future: Byron Buxton
Are you a love of 19th century romantic poetry? Then the greatest Byron since Lord Byron was burning up hearts in is the choice for you.
If you also love non-stop exciting action and adventure, well, then he's also the choice for you.
Fan Fest Fave: Phil Hughes
There are all sorts of ways to get excited by baseball. Some people thrill to home runs. Others love speed, falling in love with daring steals and diving catches.
And still others can appreciate the focused, laser-guided command needed to post the greatest strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball history. Show off your love of Hughes' 0.69 BB/9 in 2014 with this one.
Once you've made up your mind, head over to the MLB.com Shop and buy your new digs today. We'll support your decision no matter what -- after all, this is a judgement-free zone.