White Sox Top 5 shortstops: Merkin's take

April 20th, 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 5 shortstops in White Sox history. Next week: Left field.

• White Sox All-Time Around the Horn Team: C | 1B | 2B | 3B

1) , 1930-50
Key fact: Has highest overall fWAR (72.7) and bWAR (77.1) in franchise history

Let’s get to the slightly unreal part first, regarding Appling. At age 75 in 1982, the man hit a home run during an Old Timers Game at RFK Stadium -- an actual drive over the left-field fence. But maybe that moment is not so unexpected, considering the Hall of Fame career Appling put up over 20 seasons with the White Sox.

Appling posted the highest single-season batting average in franchise history when he hit .388 in 1936, to go with six home runs, 31 doubles, 128 RBIs, a .474 on-base percentage and 111 runs scored. That same season, Appling walked 85 times over 618 plate appearances against only 25 strikeouts. For his career, Appling struck out 528 times against 1,302 walks.

Appling won the batting title again in 1943 with a more pedestrian .328 average, and he was named an American League All-Star seven times. Appling’s jersey No. 4 was retired by the White Sox in '75, marking the first number to be retired by the franchise. He finished as the White Sox all-time leader in games played (2,422) and hits (2,749), and he ranks second in doubles (440), runs scored (1,319) and walks. His Hall of Fame induction came in '64.

2) , 1956-62, '68-70
Key fact: Had his jersey No. 11 retired in 1984

The Hall of Fame combination of Luis Aparicio at shortstop and Nellie Fox at second base dominated Chicago's middle infield from 1956-62, and as such, they were immortalized with a Guaranteed Rate Field statue unveiled in 2006 because their combined impact was so great. Aparicio, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984, won the '56 AL Rookie of the Year Award and finished second in '59 AL Most Valuable Player Award voting to none other than Fox.

Aparicio was a nine-time AL All-Star and a seven-time AL Gold Glove Award winner over his two stints with the White Sox. His 318 stolen bases rank second behind Eddie Collins in franchise history, and Aparicio was the AL stolen-base leader in each of his first seven seasons with the team.

3) , 2008-15
Key fact: Good mix of speed and power

There were seven strong candidates for the final three spots on this list, but Ramirez and his 19.6 fWAR get the nod at No. 3. Ramirez actually started his career as the 2008 White Sox Opening Day center fielder against Cleveland, and he played primarily as the team’s second baseman that year.

Ramirez’s sixth-inning grand slam off of one-time White Sox hurler Gary Glover gave Chicago an 8-2 victory in a home makeup game against the Tigers on Sept. 29, 2008, one day after the end of the season, and it set up a play-in contest against the Twins for the AL Central crown. The White Sox 1-0 victory in the Blackout Game became one of the greatest contests in Chicago history. Ramirez finished his South Side career with 109 homers, 227 doubles and 135 stolen bases.

4) , 1985-97
Key fact: Won AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1985

The biggest claim to fame for Guillen came in leading the White Sox to the 2005 World Series championship as their manager, a position at which he would also rank in the top tier in franchise history. But the always entertaining and ever quotable Guillen was a pretty solid player for more than a decade, too.

Guillen came over in December 1984 in a trade with the Padres, sending Cy Young Award winner LaMarr Hoyt to San Diego as part of the return. Guillen was named to three AL All-Star teams, won an AL Gold Glove in '90 and topped the league in defensive bWAR from '86-88. He was an integral part of the '93 AL West division championship team, and he swiped 169 bases for his career, including four seasons with more than 20.

5) , 2016-present
Key fact: Won AL batting title in 2019

Not only was Anderson’s .335 batting average tops in the AL last year, but it was also the best in baseball. The athletic Anderson has the potential to steal 30 bases and hit 30 home runs every season, and while he topped baseball with 26 errors in 2019, he showed strong range and an aptitude to make the difficult plays.

Anderson’s inclusion on this list is a testament to his development at the position and his clear path for future growth. Even as the team’s top pick in the 2013 Draft, he was viewed by many as a raw talent who some thought could end up in the outfield because of his athleticism. But Anderson was determined to make this shortstop position his own.

Honorable mentions
was always an extremely popular player among his teammates and the fan base, known particularly for his ninth-inning dive into the stands to grab a Chris Burke foul popup in Game 4 of the 2005 World Series, and his throw to first baseman Paul Konerko to nail Orlando Palmeiro on his ensuing grounder for the championship’s final out. Uribe also handled second and third capably during his five-year stint, including another playoff appearance in '08. He did whatever it took to win, and he was one of the more entertaining characters during his time.

Venezuelan native played six seasons for the White Sox, and he was a four-time AL All-Star. He ranked first in baseball in defensive bWAR in 1951, '53 and '54.

's 136 career home runs rank No. 1 in White Sox history for players who primarily played shortstop. His total also sits 12th in franchise history. The switch-hitter played five seasons for the White Sox, and he had at least 25 homers and 20 doubles in each year.

Hall of Famer played seven seasons for the White Sox, including the final six of his 20-year career. He was No. 1 in the AL in offensive bWAR (5.5) and tied for first in defensive bWAR (2.8) in 1905, while picking up six RBIs in the '06 World Series championship over the Cubs.