In an effort to avoid going stir crazy with MLB and every other major sports league shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, I've decided to take a look at the best of the best for each baseball franchise. We've created a 30-day series making an all-time team for each MLB club. We're breaking down one team each day throughout April, continuing today with the Chicago White Sox.
As a (hopefully?) fun twist, I'm making a Baseball Stars team for each. That's right, the old-school Nintendo video game "Baseball Stars," which I still consider to be the best baseball video game ever. It allowed you to create teams and I used to make all-time lineups for prominent MLB franchises. There are the eight position players with four starting pitchers, one reliever and five bench position players on each Baseball Stars squads.
Here's the lineup for the South Siders.
Have you ever heard of Sherm Lollar? He was the White Sox's catcher from 1953-63 and was an eight-time All-Star (twice he went twice in a season, but that's a different discussion for a different day). He walked 525 times compared to 360 strikeouts, helping him to sport a nice .358 on-base percentage. He ranks 15th in WAR among White Sox position players. He gave Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk a run for his money. And though Fisk's best work was with the Red Sox, he still did plenty with the Pale Hose to be the pick.
There's a spot for the Big Hurt a bit lower. Here at first, with apologies to Jose Abreu and MVP Dick Allen (who only played three seasons with the White Sox), it's Paul Konerko. He spent 16 years with the club, hitting .281/.356/.491 (120 OPS+) with 2,292 hits, 406 doubles, 432 homers, 1,383 RBI, 1,141 runs and this home run.
He won ALCS MVP that season, too. Rock on, Paulie.
Eddie Collins and Nellie Fox are the top two picks here and though Collins has the edge in WAR pretty substantially, I'll go with the post-integration player when there's even a question. Fox is the pick.
Did you know Luis Aparicio led the league in steals in each of his first nine seasons? Seven of those came with the White Sox and he later returned for another stint. In his 10 years with the White Sox, he racked up enough value to sit seventh in career WAR among position players. He's not the selection here, though, because Luke Appling in his 20 years racked up the most WAR in club history. Appling was the far superior bat, too.
Might this be Yoan Moncada eventually? Perhaps. He's got a bit to go to catch Robin Ventura, though. Ventura ran a .365 OBP with 171 homers in his 10 seasons on the South Side while collecting five Gold Gloves at the hot corner.
We're loaded out here. You've got Carlos Lee, Tim Raines, Albert Belle for two years (one of which was absurd), Al Simmons and Shoeless Joe Jackson (who played all three outfield spots). The pick here is should-be-Hall-of-Famer Minnie Minoso. He hit .304 with a .397 OBP and 171 steals in his parts of 12 seasons with the Sox.
I did mull of Shoeless Joe here, but there's just a lot we can't trust about his numbers and how they'd translate against, say, today's competition. Given that, the lifetime ban and only six years with the Sox, I think we're fine without him.
Though he's more known for his time with the Tigers, Chet Lemon spent the first seven years of his career with the White Sox and hit .288/.363/.451 (126 OPS+). He sits 17th among position players in White Sox WAR. He'd be a quality pick, but I want Lance Johnson. One Dog was with the club for parts of eight seasons, stealing 226 bases and ripping 77 triples. He led the league in triples four times. He's 22nd in White Sox WAR.
Some good seasons out here from the likes of Jermaine Dye, Alex Rios, Ivan Calderon, Avisail Garcia and Adam Eaton, but I've zeroed in on two players and it's a tough one. Magglio Ordonez vs. Harold Baines. We're talking White Sox careers only, so let's take a look.
Ordonez: .307/.364/.525, 127 OPS+, 1167 H, 240 2B, 15 3B, 187 HR, 703 RBI, 624 R, 82 SB, 25.3 WAR
Baines: .288/.346/.463, 118 OPS+, 1773 H, 320 2B, 44 3B, 221 HR, 981 RBI, 786 R, 32 SB, 24.7 WAR
You know what? It's a video game. I'm moving guys around. Minoso can play center. We'll kick Baines over to left and leave Ordonez here. Yay offense. Sorry, Lance.
I know it came in the Deadball Era, but it was still a 147 ERA+, so I'll respect Ed Walsh for having the best ERA in baseball history at 1.81 for his career. It would be a crime to not include Mark Buehrle, wouldn't it? Chris Sale just had a five-season run where he finished in the top six of Cy Young voting every single year and has the best strikeout rate in the franchise by nearly two K/9. I'll take him.
In sifting through pre-integration players, Billy Pierce from the '50s, Cy Young winner Lamar Hoyt and Cy Young winner Jack McDowell I've settled on BlackJack. McDowell's run was short (four good years for the Sox), but he was fun racking up innings and complete games.
Hoyt Wilhelm has to be a strong consideration on every team he pitched for and the Sox have had some good closers like Keith Foulke, David Robertson, Roberto Hernandez and Bobby Jenks, but I'm going with Bobby Thigpen here. He was good for several years, but in 1990 he saved 57 games in 65 chances with a 1.83 ERA (211 ERA+) and 1.04 WHIP in 88 2/3 innings.
Baseball Stars uses six characters for each name. What follows is the Baseball Stars lineup.
- Minnie, CF
- Luke, SS
- Frank, DH
- Paulie, 1B
- Maggs, RF
- Baines, LF
- Fisk, C
- Robin, 3B
- Nellie, 2B
SP: Walsh, Mark B, Sale, Jack
For the four bench spots, let's go with Luis (Aparcio), A.J. (Pierzynski, because I know how much you White Sox fans love him), Jose (Abreu) and Ozzie (Guillen). Hey, I'm a crowd-pleaser.
As always, feel free to hit me up on Twitter with your own team (@MattSnyderCBS).