White Sox all-time roster by best season

January 4th, 2021

CHICAGO -- Here’s a look at the White Sox all-time roster based on the best season at each position. This is not necessarily the best player in franchise history at each spot.

C: Carlton Fisk, 1985
.808 OPS, 37 HRs, 107 RBIs, 85 runs

Fisk played 13 years in Chicago after arriving from the Red Sox via free agency on March 18, 1981. His No. 72 was retired in '97, and he had a sculpture unveiled in his honor in 2005 at Guaranteed Rate Field. But his best season out of many with the South Siders also rates No. 1 among the organization’s catchers, as Fisk added 23 doubles and 17 stolen bases to his above stat line. Sherm Lollar’s All-Star performances in '58-59 and A.J. Pierzynski’s effort in 2012 also warranted consideration.

1B: Dick Allen, 1972
.308/.420/.603, 37 HRs, 113 RBIs, 99 walks, 19 SBs, 90 runs scored

The choices are vast and deserving at first base, with Frank Thomas putting up a decade’s worth of single-season possibilities. The same goes for Paul Konerko (2004-06, '10-11), Zeke Bonura (1936) and José Abreu, who won the 2020 American League Most Valuable Player Award and the Hank Aaron Award. But Allen’s MVP performance was said to have locally and nationally resurrected a franchise that drew 495,355 as recently as 1970. Allen finished third in the AL in hitting, preventing him from winning the '72 Triple Crown, but he finished No. 1 in homers, RBIs, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentages, OPS and OPS+ (199).

2B: Eddie Collins, 1920
7.9 bWAR

Nellie Fox won the AL’s 1959 Most Valuable Player Award as well as a Gold Glove Award, but Collins still owns the edge at second base. Collins hit .372 in ’20, the third-highest single-season average in franchise history, and he finished with 224 hits and 117 runs scored. He added 38 doubles, 76 RBIs, 20 stolen bases and a .932 OPS.

SS: Luke Appling, 1936
Single-season franchise-best .388 average

Shortstop is another loaded position for the White Sox, with Jose Valentin, Tim Anderson and Luis Aparicio just a few names that received consideration. But Appling, a Hall of Famer, had one season among his 20 with more than 100 RBIs, more than 100 runs scored and more than 200 hits, and they all came in 1936. Appling drove in 128, scored 111 and had 204 hits to complement a .981 OPS and 85 walks against 25 strikeouts.

Related

3B: Robin Ventura, 1996
Career-high 34 home runs

Ventura has the edge, despite Bill Melton topping the AL with 33 home runs in 1971. Along with his 34 homers, Ventura drove in 105 runs and scored 96. He finished with an .888 OPS and captured a Gold Glove Award.

DH: Frank Thomas, 2000
Career-high 143 RBIs

Thomas’ .328 average in 2000 marked the last season he hit north of .300 in his illustrious 19-year career. Thomas finished second in the AL MVP Award race, one of his five Top 5 showings with the White Sox, including winning in 1993-94. He knocked out 43 home runs and 44 doubles, walking 112 times against 94 strikeouts and posting a 1.061 OPS and 163 OPS+.

LF: Albert Belle, 1998
Hit .387 with a 1.267 OPS in 76 games after the All-Star break

The second half to Belle's final year with the White Sox was good enough alone to make this list, but he finished with a .328/.399/.655 slash line and 49 home runs, 48 doubles, 152 RBIs, 200 hits and 113 runs scored. His slugging percentage, 1.055 OPS, 172 OPS+ and career-high 399 total bases ranked atop the AL and those total bases, homers, RBIs, doubles and 99 extra-base hits remain White Sox single-season top marks. Joe Jackson also warranted consideration with his .382 average in 1920.

CF: Johnny Mostil, 1926
Finished second in AL MVP Award voting

In reality, Mostil’s 1925 performance could fill this category just as easily. But in ’26, Mostil produced a 6.2 bWAR to go with a slash line of .328/.415/.467. He topped the AL with 35 stolen bases, after picking up 43 the season prior, and scored 120 runs with 41 doubles and 15 triples. Mostil also had four homers, 41 RBIs and 79 walks against 55 strikeouts.

RF: Magglio Ordonez, 2002
.978 OPS and 154 OPS+, both White Sox bests for Ordonez

Konerko and many others have called Ordonez the most talented teammate they've ever had. Ordonez proved that assessment many times but had an exceptionally strong 2002 campaign when he finished eighth in the AL MVP Award voting. Ordonez slashed .320/.381/.597 with 38 home runs, 47 doubles, 116 runs scored and 135 RBIs. He also threw in seven stolen bases for good measure.

Right-handed SP: Ed Walsh, 1908
Set single-season franchise victory record at 40 wins

Walsh finished 40-15 with a 1.42 ERA over 66 games, of which 49 were starts. He threw 42 complete games and 11 shutouts, which stand as single-season franchise bests. Walsh threw 464 innings, another White Sox record, and fanned 269 against 56 walks. Those 269 strikeouts rank second behind Chris Sale’s 274 from 2015. Red Faber finished 25-15 with an 11.4 bWAR in 1921, and Early Wynn ('59), LaMarr Hoyt ('83) and Jack McDowell ('93) won Cy Young Awards in playoff seasons, but Walsh’s numbers are virtually unmatched.

Left-handed SP: Chris Sale, 2015
Set single-season franchise strikeout record at 274

Sale had higher bWARs in 2013 and '14, his career-low ERA with the White Sox came at 2.17 in ’14 and he opened the ’16 campaign with nine wins in nine starts and a 1.58 ERA. But it was the ’15 season that perfectly illustrated Sale’s dominance, as he broke Walsh's strikeout record that had stood for 106 years. Sale led the AL with a 2.73 FIP (against a 3.41 ERA), 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings and a 6.52 strikeouts-to-walks ratio along with the raw strikeout total.

From May 12 to July 11, Sale fanned 131 over 92 innings and 12 starts. He walked only 13 and yielded 56 hits in that stretch, reaching double-digit strikeout totals in 10 of those 12 trips to the mound, including eight straight.

RP: Bobby Thigpen, 1990
Franchise-record 57 saves, 1.83 ERA in 77 games

Bobby Jenks’ 2007 season gave Thigpen a solid run, but it’s difficult to overlook a record-setting performance for Major League saves that was eventually broken by the Angels’ Francisco Rodríguez. Thigpen also holds the career franchise saves record at 201 but finished 57-for-65 in ’90 with a 1.83 ERA and 73 games finished in 77 appearances. He finished fourth in the AL Cy Young Award race and fifth in consideration for the AL MVP Award.