White Sox Top 5 right-handers: Merkin's take

May 25th, 2020
White Sox right-hander Ed Walsh warms up before a game in 1908.

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 5 right-handed starters in White Sox history. Next week: Left-handed starters.

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

1. Ed Walsh, 1904-16
Key fact: Second in franchise history with 1,732 strikeouts

With Walsh having concluded his White Sox run more than a century ago, it’s easy to overlook his dominance unless you are a true aficionado or a team historian. But some of Walsh’s statistics are almost too good to even be believed.

In 1908, Walsh picked up 40 victories, which still stands as the franchise record. Walsh made 66 appearances and 49 starts during that season, with 42 complete games and 11 shutouts. His 464 innings pitched easily top any other White Sox pitcher for one season.

Walsh’s name has gained increased notoriety over the past decade thanks to Chris Sale and Lucas Giolito. While Sale sits first, sixth and eighth in terms of single-season strikeouts and Giolito ranks seventh, Walsh holds the two through five spots in that category with a career-high of 269 in ‘08. His .187 opponents average in '10 also represents a White Sox best, to go with a 40 2/3 scoreless-innings streak that same season, while he ranks first with a career 1.81 ERA and third with his 195 wins. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946.

2. Ted Lyons, 1923-42, '46
Key fact: Club retired his jersey No. 16 in 1987

Nobody has made more career starts for the White Sox than the 484 from Lyons. His 356 complete games and 4,161 innings pitched also rank No. 1, as do his 260 wins and 230 losses. In fact, Lyons joins Red Faber as the only White Sox hurlers with at least 200 career victories and at least 200 career losses.

Lyons led the American League in victories with 21 in 1925 and 22 in '27, while also leading the AL in complete games twice and shutouts twice. He amassed these numbers despite not playing from 1943-45 due to military service. Lyons was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1955 and managed the White Sox from 1946-48.

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3. Red Faber, 1914-33
Key fact: Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964

Faber pitched for two decades with the White Sox, closing out his career in 1933 at the age of 44. He finished with a 254-213 record, a 3.15 ERA and his 273 complete games and 4,086 2/3 innings sit second in club history behind Lyons.

Those two represent the only hurlers to surpass 4,000 innings with the White Sox. Faber’s 1,471 strikeouts trail only Billy Pierce and Walsh, but his 1,213 walks and 103 hit batsmen also are the highest in White Sox history. The two best seasons for Faber came in 1921 and '22, when he won 46 combined games and led the AL with ERAs of 2.48 and 2.81 and with 32 and 31 complete games.

4. Jack McDowell, 1987-88, '90-94
Key fact: Won the 1993 AL Cy Young Award

As the fifth overall pick in the 1987 MLB Draft, McDowell emerged as a true homegrown success story. McDowell actually needed just six appearances and five starts in the Minors before joining the White Sox for four starts and a 3-0 record in 1987.

From 1991-93, McDowell was selected to three All-Star teams, made a combined 103 starts and threw a combined 771 innings with 38 complete games. McDowell joins LaMarr Hoyt (1983) and Early Wynn (1959) as the only White Sox hurlers to win the AL Cy Young Award. That ’93 vote featured McDowell edging out Seattle’s Randy Johnson, with McDowell finishing 22-10 with a 3.37 ERA, 10 complete games and four shutouts.

5. Eddie Cicotte, 1912-20
Key fact: Ranks in the top 10 in nine career team statistical categories

Cicotte had a great run from 1917-20, winning 28 games with a 1.53 ERA in ’17 and posting 29 victories with a 1.82 ERA in ’19. He finished with a 156-101 record and a 2.25 ERA in nine years with the White Sox, placing him eighth all-time in wins. Cicotte ranks second and third in single-season victories and holds the fifth and sixth single-season best ERAs.

Honorable mentions
LaMarr Hoyt: During his 1983 AL Cy Young campaign leading the White Sox to the playoffs, Hoyt posted a 24-10 record with a 3.66 ERA over 36 starts and 260 2/3 innings. His second half to that particular season was nearly flawless, as Hoyt went 15-2 with a 3.16 ERA over 18 starts including seven complete games. He also finished 15-5 at home in ’83 and was 47-17 in his career at Comiskey Park. Hoyt was traded to the Padres on Dec. 6, 1984, as part of a seven-player deal that brought Ozzie Guillen to Chicago.

Early Wynn: Wynn was the driving force behind the 1959 AL champs, finishing 22-10 with a 3.17 ERA, 37 starts and 255 2/3 innings. Wynn earned the Cy Young Award and finished at 64-55 over his five years with the White Sox.

Alex Fernandez: Fernandez formed a solid 1-2 punch with McDowell in ’93, finishing 18-9 with a 3.13 ERA. The team’s top pick in the 1990 MLB Draft produced a 79-63 record with a 3.78 ERA over seven years with the White Sox.

Jose Contreras, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland: Garland had 92 wins during his White Sox tenure. Garcia finished 55-31 as part of the White Sox. Contreras, who still works with the White Sox, won 17 consecutive games from 2005-06. But for their combined contributions to the 2005 World Series title, including three straight complete games in the AL Championship Series, they deserve to be mentioned together.

Richard Dotson: Dotson won 97 games during his White Sox career, including a 22-7 mark with eight complete games and 240 innings pitched in 1983.

Joel Horlen: Horlen had his best season in 1967 with a 19-7 record and an AL best 2.06 ERA. He threw 258 innings with 13 complete games and six shutouts. Horlen also threw a no-hitter on Sept. 10 of that season against Detroit.

Frank Smith: Smith won 20 games in two different seasons and topped 300 innings pitched twice as well. He completed 37 of his 40 starts in 1909.