White Sox Top 5 right fielders: Merkin's take

May 11th, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only … if you don’t agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll to vote for your favorite at this position.

Here is Scott Merkin’s ranking of the top five right fielders in White Sox history. Next week: designated hitter.

White Sox All-Time Team: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | LF | CF

1. , 1997-2004
Key fact: Hit .307 and had an .889 OPS in eight years with the White Sox

Paul Konerko once referred to Ordonez as the most talented individual he suited up with, and Ordonez’s career statistics certainly back up those numbers. With the White Sox, Ordonez had five seasons with at least 30 doubles and three seasons with at least 40. He was a four-time All-Star, had four seasons with at least 30 home runs and drove in at least 100 runs every year from 1999-2002.

Ordonez's 2002 season was his best during a run of sheer excellence. The right-handed hitter, who also swiped 82 bases during his White Sox career, finished that year with a slash line of .320/.381/.597, 38 homers, 47 doubles, 116 runs scored and 135 RBIs. He finished eighth in American League MVP Award voting and captured one of his two Silver Slugger Awards with the White Sox. Ordonez has the No. 2 and No. 3 rankings in single-season doubles totals for the White Sox, while his 86 extra-base hits in ’02 rank third in a single season and his 135 RBIs sit fourth.

2. , 2005-09
Key fact: 2005 World Series MVP

It’s difficult to fly somewhat under the radar when earning the MVP honors of the franchise’s first World Series championship in almost nine decades. But Dye, the consummate professional, had an underrated but certainly significant impact during his time on the South Side.

His 2006 production, for a team quite possibly more talented than the ’05 champs, earned Dye a Silver Slugger award and a trip to the All-Star Game. He also finished fifth in AL MVP Award voting with a .315/.385/.622 slash line, 44 home runs, 120 RBIs and 103 runs scored. Dye went 7-for-16 in the '05 World Series with one homer and three RBIs. His 164 career home runs rank eighth in franchise history; his .869 OPS ranks 11th.

3. Floyd Robinson, 1960-66
Key fact: Produced 144 extra-base hits from 1961-63

Robinson is a WAR favorite, sitting third among White Sox right fielders by both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference metrics. The left-handed hitter wasn’t exactly a pure power presence, hitting 65 homers over seven seasons with the White Sox. But he also finished with 129 doubles and 34 triples. His 45 doubles in 1962 led the AL and is tied with Albert Belle for the fifth-highest single-season total in White Sox history. Robinson’s best season came in ’62, when he drove in 109 to go with 10 triples, 11 homers and an .859 OPS.

4. , 2009-13
Key fact: Combined power and speed

When Rios was good with the White Sox, he was borderline great. But his struggles were also fairly pronounced. Rios was a waiver claim from the Blue Jays on Aug. 10, 2009, and he hit only .199 over 154 plate appearances the rest of the season.

He bounced back quickly in 2010, hitting .281 with 21 homers, 29 doubles, 88 RBIs and 34 stolen bases. After another down year in ’11, Rios slashed .304/.334/.516 in ’12, with 25 homers, 37 doubles, 91 RBIs, 93 runs scored and 24 stolen bases. Rios was traded to the Rangers for Leury García in 2013 after 109 games during which he hit .277 with 12 homers and 26 stolen bases.

5. , 2013-18
Key fact: At the center of the White Sox first rebuild after being acquired from Detroit in 2013 trade

Garcia’s run with the White Sox could have been much different if he had stayed healthy. His most significant setback came on April 9, 2014, at Coors Field, when he sustained a torn labrum and avulsion fracture in his left shoulder trying to make a diving catch in an attempt to protect a one-run lead. Garcia had four hits and two home runs during a 15-3 victory the night before in Colorado.

There were flashes of brilliance from the supremely talented Garcia, who was an All-Star in 2017 when he had a slash line of .330/.380/.506 with 18 homers, 27 doubles and 80 RBIs. There were some defensive struggles along the way for Garcia, but he always had a strong arm.

Honorable mentions
was a Gold Glove-caliber defensive presence during the 2016 season in right field. Eaton was also a leadoff force with 29 doubles, nine triples, 14 home runs and 91 runs scored. He was traded to the Nationals as part of the current rebuild for right-handed hurlers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning.

Shano Collins picked up 193 of his 226 career stolen bases from 1910-20 with the White Sox and hit .286 in the team’s 1917 World Series win.

Harry Hooper hit .302 with a .383 on-base percentage and 143 doubles during his five seasons with the White Sox, closing out his 17-year-career in 1925.

Carl Reynolds had a .359 average in 1930, ranking as the fifth-highest single-season mark.

Taffy Wright hit .312 with a .381 on-base percentage from 1940-48 with the White Sox.

Jim Rivera led the AL with 16 triples in 1953 and 25 stolen bases in '55. He was also part of the 1959 World Series championship squad.