White Sox Top 5 second basemen: Merkin's take

April 6th, 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 second basemen in White Sox history. Next week: third basemen.

1. Nellie Fox, 1950-63
Key fact: Won 1959 American League MVP Award

There would be no issue putting or Eddie Collins at the top of the list of White Sox second basemen. Both players put up impressive numbers and were elected to the Hall of Fame. I actually went back and forth on this three or four times before giving Fox the slight edge.

Fox didn’t quite have the overall numbers of Collins, but it could be argued that the 5-foot-10 left-handed hitter holds more of an iconic presence in franchise lore and made more of an overall impact. Fox’s No. 2 jersey was retired in 1976, and a sculpture of Fox and was unveiled at Guaranteed Rate Field in 2006. (The two served as an airtight double-play combination from '56-62.

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Over his 14 seasons with the White Sox, Fox ranks second in franchise history with 2,470 hits and third with 2,115 games played. He won the 1959 AL MVP Award, edging teammates Aparicio and , was an All-Star in every year with the White Sox but '50 and '62 and was a three-time Gold Glove Award winner. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame posthumously in '97.

2. Eddie Collins, 1915-26
Key fact: His 64.6 fWAR ranks third in franchise history

had great success with the Philadelphia Athletics and the White Sox over his 25-year career, and he sits near the top of a number of Chicago statistical categories. The left-handed hitter leads the franchise with 368 stolen bases, and his .331 batting average ranks second overall behind "Shoeless" . He’s also in the team's top five in triples, walks, runs, hits and on-base percentage. Collins, elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939, finished 16-for-53 in his two postseason appearances with the White Sox, which includes a World Series victory in '17.

3. Ray Durham, 1995-2002
Key fact: Most HRs among White Sox second basemen

was a product of the White Sox system as the fifth-round selection in the 1990 Draft, and the switch-hitter was productive from the first time he reached the Majors in '95 with seven home runs, 27 doubles, six triples, 51 RBIs, 68 runs scored and 18 stolen bases. With 105 home runs while playing second base for the White Sox, he's he's the only player with more than 100. Durham was a two-time All-Star (1998, 2000), and he played a key role in the team’s 2000 AL Central title.

4. Tadahito Iguchi, 2005-07
Key fact: Integral part of 2005 World Series championship

The free agent from Japan didn’t stay long with the White Sox, as was traded to the Phillies during the 2007 season, but he made a huge impact in a short time. Iguchi was one of the last pieces added to the '05 puzzle, and he served as the perfect No. 2 hitter in that potent championship lineup. It was not unusual to see start off a game by getting on base, stealing second and either being driven in or moved over by Iguchi. It was a perfect combination for creating consistent early leads.

Iguchi also was a solid defensive player at second base, best known for his on-the-move toss to first base with his body basically parallel to the ground as he threw out Bengie Molina in the ninth inning of a victory over the Blue Jays on April 15, 2006. Iguchi's three-run homer in the fifth inning of Game 2 of the '05 AL Division Series against Boston’s David Wells turned a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 lead.

5. Jorge Orta, 1972-79
Key fact: Six straight seasons with double-digit home runs

Jorge Orta was something of an underrated offensive producer during eight years with the White Sox. He was the second baseman on the 1977 South Side Hitmen, finishing with a .282/.334/.417 slash line, 27 doubles, eight triples, 11 home runs and 84 RBIs. He also was an All-Star in '75.

Honorable mentions
had his best offensive season as a rookie third baseman in 2009, but he became a top-notch defensive second baseman over parts of the next five seasons and hit 47 home runs combined during that stretch.

had 15 doubles, 13 triples, 51 RBIs, 95 runs scored and 20 stolen bases during the 1993 White Sox AL West title run. He was also the third-base coach for the 2005 World Series championship team, and he was part of manager Ozzie Guillen’s staff for eight years.