White Sox Top 5 left fielders: Merkin's take

April 27th, 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 left fielders in White Sox history. Next week: Center field.

White Sox All-Time Team: Catchers | First base | Second base | Third base | Shortstop

1) Minnie Minoso: 1951-57, '60-61, '64, '76, '80
Key fact: First black player in franchise history

The iconic Minoso was a beloved staple of the organization long after he retired, after debuting for the White Sox on May 1, 1951, by hitting a home run on the first pitch he saw against the Yankees. Minoso’s 41.8 fWAR sits No. 1 among White Sox left fielders and ranks fifth overall behind Hall of Famers Luke Appling, Frank Thomas, Eddie Collins and Nellie Fox, while his 41.4 bWAR leads all White Sox left fielders as well. He was a six-time American League All-Star and won two Gold Gloves as part of the White Sox, topping .300 in six seasons.

Minoso led the AL in stolen bases three times while with the White Sox, and topped all hitters in triples in three different seasons as well. His 79 triples tie for sixth in franchise history and his 171 stolen bases are tied for 12th, while he holds the career mark with 145 hit by pitches. The White Sox retired his jersey, No. 9, in 1983 and a sculpture of Minoso was unveiled at Guaranteed Rate Field in 2004.

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2) Shoeless Joe Jackson: 1915-20
Key fact: His .340 career average is No. 1 in White Sox history

Jackson played the last six years of his career with the White Sox, hitting above .300 in every year but 1915, and topping .340 on four separate occasions. His best season came during his last, when Jackson had a slash line of .382/.444/.589 with 12 home runs, 121 RBIs, 105 runs scored, 42 doubles and an AL-best 20 triples. Jackson also topped the AL with his 21 triples in '16. Those two totals represent the single-season highs for triples in franchise history, with Jackson also ranking third all-time with his .407 career on-base percentage.

3) Carlos Lee: 1999-2004
Key fact: Had franchise-record 28-game hitting streak in 2004

Although he began as a third baseman in the Minors, Lee played almost exclusively in left field during his six years with the White Sox. Lee’s 152 home runs rank No. 1 in franchise history for players who were primarily left fielders, and that total puts him 10th overall.

Lee’s best two seasons came in 2003-04 when he knocked 62 homers, 72 doubles, scored 203 runs and drove in 212. He also swiped 29 bases over that two-year run. Lee didn’t commit an error in ’04, although he was known much more for his bat. In '05, he somewhat contributed to the White Sox World Series title, as Lee was traded after the ’04 season to the Brewers for outfielder Scott Podsednik and reliever Luis Vizcaino. Both players served major roles within the championship run.

4) Tim Raines: 1991-95
Key fact: Had a .283 average and a .375 on-base percentage with the White Sox

The Hall of Famer was traded to Chicago from the Expos on Dec. 23, 1990, in a deal sending Ivan Calderon and Barry Jones back to Montreal. Raines was a key contributor to the '93 AL West division champions, hitting .306 with an .880 OPS, while finishing 12-for-27 in the ALCS loss to the Blue Jays. He posted 96 stolen bases and 204 runs scored combined in 1991-92, and the switch-hitter returned to the White Sox as part of the coaching staff for the '05 World Series champion team.

5) Albert Belle: 1997-98
Key fact: Was highest-paid player in MLB at the time he signed

Belle agreed with the White Sox on a five-year, $55 million deal on Nov. 20, 1996, and while he only played two seasons in Chicago, he made a significant impact. His 49 home runs, 48 doubles, 152 RBIs and 399 total bases from '98 remain as single-season highs in franchise history. In July of ’98, Belle hit .406 with a 1.395 OPS to go with 16 home runs and 32 RBIs.

His second half, covering 76 games, featured a slash line of .387/.451/.816 with 31 homers, 26 doubles and 86 RBIs. Belle was a one-time All-Star with the White Sox in 1997, hitting .274 with 30 homers, 45 doubles and 116 RBIs.

Honorable mentions
Carlos Quentin was a prime 2008 AL MVP Award candidate until a broken right wrist cost him the month of September. In that first season with the White Sox, Quentin had a .965 OPS with 36 homers, 100 RBIs and 20 hit by pitches. Quentin finished with 107 homers and 78 hit by pitches with the White Sox, although he split his time fairly evenly between left field and right field.

Ron Kittle
Kittle’s 35 home runs as part of the 1983 AL West division champion team set a White Sox single-season rookie record for home runs until José Abreu hit 36 in 2014. The affable slugger finished with 140 homers over eight years with the White Sox.

Scott Podsednik
Podsednik will always be known for his walk-off home run in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series sweep of the Astros. He also picked up 141 stolen bases over two different stints with the White Sox, not to mention hitting .280 with a .339 on-base percentage.

Bibb Falk
Falk’s 16.5 fWAR ranks him fourth among players who were primary left fielders for the White Sox. Falk hit .315 with a .370 on-base percentage over nine years in Chicago.