White Sox Top 5 DHs: Merkin's take

May 18th, 2020

CHICAGO -- 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 fielders in White Sox history. Next week: Right-handed starters.

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

1) (2006-09)
Key fact: Hit 500th home run in walk-off fashion in 2007

Choosing either Thome or Harold Baines at No. 1 would seemingly be the right call, but the Hall of Famer from downstate Peoria, Ill., gets the slight nod purely as a White Sox designated hitter.

Thome came to the White Sox on Nov. 25, 2005, from the Phillies via a four-player trade sending Aaron Rowand and a left-handed pitching prospect named Gio Gonzalez to Philadelphia. The move was a slight surprise in that the White Sox were coming off their first World Series championship in almost 90 years and Rowand was a key part of that special campaign, but the White Sox wanted a left-handed power bat in the middle of the order and had Brian Anderson ready to take over in center.

Thome provided an instant and powerful burst of offense in ’06, hitting 10 home runs in April and 10 more in May and finished the season with 42 homers, 109 RBIs and a 1.014 OPS. In each of his four seasons with the White Sox, Thome had at least 23 homers and 74 RBIs and hit 34 or more homers in each of the first three seasons. The 49-year-old is one of the classiest players in or around the game and currently works as a special assistant to the general manager with the White Sox.

2) (1980-89, '96-97, '00-01)
Key fact: Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2019

A very strong case could be made for Baines as the No. 1 or No. 2 right fielder all time for the White Sox, as well as the top spot at DH. In fact, the left-handed hitter played 1,011 games in right field and 604 games as designated hitter for the South Siders, but Baines was really an All-Star presence wherever he played and much like Thome, an All-Star person and teammate.

Baines ranks second with 370 RBIs as a White Sox DH, trailing the 643 RBIs from Frank Thomas, who was listed as a first baseman in the Top 5 position voting. Thome checks in at third with 360 RBIs, while Thome ranks second with 131 DH homers (behind Thomas’ 196) and Baines sits fourth at 76. Baines, who is one of the community relations representatives/ambassadors with the White Sox, ranks third all time with his 221 home runs overall, fourth with his 981 RBIs and seventh with 1,670 games played.

3) (1981-84)
Key fact: Local product finished career via four years with the White Sox

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Luzinski, known as The Bull, won the Designated Hitter of the Year award in 1981 and 1983. Baines was the only other member of the White Sox to win the award in 1987-88. Luzinski’s best season with the White Sox came in 1982 when he slashed .292/.386/.451 with 18 homers, 102 RBIs and 37 doubles. Luzinski also flashed his rooftop power at Comiskey Park during the playoff season of ’83 with 32 homers, 95 RBIs and an .854 OPS. His 8.1 fWAR ranks fourth among White Sox designated hitters, his 83 homers rank third, and his 311 RBIs sit fourth.

4) (2003, '04-05)
Key fact: Prime contributor to 2005 World Series title

The switch-hitter was traded from the Rangers to the White Sox on July 1, 2003, and was then traded from the Expos to the White Sox on July 18, 2004, leading to his big season as the team’s primary designated hitter in the ’05 championship campaign. Everett knocked out 23 homers and 87 RBIs to go with a .745 OPS, adding a 12-for-40 showing with five runs scored and three RBIs during the postseason. Those numbers included a 4-for-9 effort in the World Series sweep of Houston.

5. (2011-14)
Key fact: Hit 106 home runs in parts of four seasons

DDunn’s first year with the White Sox certainly was one to forget, but the affable slugger deserves a great deal of credit for the way he handled that 2011 downturn with extreme grace and dignity. Dunn did exactly what he was supposed to do over parts of the next three seasons, hitting 95 home runs and drawing 246 walks. He became one of the driving forces behind the team’s extended stay in first place during the 2012 season, hitting 41 home runs, driving in 96 and playing much of September with an oblique issue. His 62 homers rank fifth among White Sox designated hitters and his 177 RBIs place him sixth.

Honorable mentions
• Julio Franco: At 35 years old, Franco spent 99 games as the White Sox designated hitter in ’94 and put together an impressive season. Franco slashed .319/.406/.510 with 20 homers and 98 RBIs, finishing eighth in the AL Most Valuable Player voting. Franco played in the Majors until he was 48.

• George Bell: Bell is best known for his outstanding nine-year-run in Toronto and then his trade from the Cubs to the White Sox on March 30, 1992, sending Sammy Sosa to the North Side. But Bell finished his career with two seasons as the White Sox primary DH, knocking out 38 home runs and driving in 176.