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Sunday, August 11, 2013

All Time All Stars - Chicago White Sox

This is part of an on-going series in which I attempt to update the rosters from Sports Illustrated's All Time All Stars board game created in 1973.  My intention is to update the game so I can incorporate modern day stars with the All Time All Stars.

The Chicago White Sox are one of the original eight American League franchises yet their history is not necessarily one to make fans proud.  Their World Series drought of 88 years is rivaled only by the Red Sox in American League lore (still better than the Cubs!).  It's sad when a team's most well known moment is dark, nonetheless that's the way it is for Chicago's Southside club. Several franchise greats were on the 1919 squad and eight were banned.  Guilty or not, they are eligible for this team, which is a good thing when you consider the state of the Sox best hitters throughout their history.

Again, a reminder of the guidelines for choosing players:
  • Each team must be composed of fifteen (15) position players and ten (10) pitchers.
  • At least one pitcher must be a relief pitcher
  • Each position must have at least two players on the roster who can capably fill it.  Think of this as having a starter and a backup. 
  • At least one player chosen to represent a position must have played that position as their primary defensive position.  For instance, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth cannot be chosen as the only two representatives at first base since neither played there for the majority of their career.
  • Players must have been active no earlier than 1901.  I chose 1901 since that was the first year of the American League.  We need a cutoff at some point and this seemed logical to me. If a player accumulated stats prior to 1901 (Cy Young for instance) these stats will be disregarded.
  • To be eligible for a position a player must have played one full season as a starter there or 10% of his career games.  The same goes for starting and relieving.
  • The team a player represents should be the one that makes the most sense for that player. For instance, Alex Rodriguez has played for three teams but he's played 300 more games as a Yankee than a Mariner. He won an MVP as a Yankee and has more career WAR as a Yankee.  Therefore, he's going to be on the Yankee roster.
  • Batter handedness should not impact the players chosen.
Here we go...

Original Catchers: Ray Schalk, Sherm Lollar
Don't let Schalk's batting average fool you - he really was a great catcher.  In 1922 he had a career year and finished third in the MVP voting.  He was one of the few starters on the 1919 Sox team that was absolved of guilt in the gambling scandal.  Lollar was an above average catcher and you would think more people from Chicago would be aware of him.  He made seven all star teams in his career and won three Gold Gloves. He also finished in the top ten in MVP voting in both 1958 and 1959.
Potential newcomers: AJ Pierzynski
People might be upset Carlton Fisk is not an option here since he is the greatest catcher in White Sox history. I chose to put him on Boston instead, partly because that's the hat he's wearing on his bust in Cooperstown.  Pierzynski was a good catcher in Chicago but he was never great though he was key in helping the Sox win their first World Series since 1917.

Original First Basemen: Earl Sheely, Joe Kuhel
The Big Hurt brings some much needed
 power to the Sox All Time All Star team.

Earl Sheely and Joe Kuhel? Who are these guys?  Sheely played in the 1920's and was a decent hitter for average but had almost no power.  Baseball-reference has Hal Morris as one of his most similar players. Kuhel played in the '40s and '50s and in a way is Sheely's opposite.  Kuhel only hit .300 three times but supplemented that with some medium power and good base stealing ability. Baseball-reference likens him to Keith Hernandez.
Potential newcomers: Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko
The Big Hurt is the greatest offensive player in team history. He's a no-brainer for this team and a huge upgrade over the previous two guys.  Frank's career OPS+ in a White Sox uniform was 156. Egads! If anyone can pass Frank Thomas as the franchise home run leader it's Konerko.  Konerko has made six all star teams and is consistently above average.  Not a Hall of Famer but a great Sox player.

Original Second basemen: Nellie Fox, Eddie Collins
Nellie was a singles hitting machine.  The man led the league in hits four times, hit by pitch once, and triples once.  He was also known for being a slick fielder at the keystone which is probably what enabled him to win the 1959 AL MVP award.  Eddie Collins is one of the three greatest second basemen of all time. Try picking his best season and you will fail because they are nearly all the same.  Both of these second basemen are in the HOF.
Potential newcomers: Ray Durham
Durham might be my favorite player in Sox history.  I enjoyed his speed (20+ SB seven straight seasons), his underrated pop (career high of 26 home runs), and that for several years he was always a candidate to lead the league in triples. Whenever I turn on a Sox game and see Gordon Beckham I realize I miss Ray Durham.

Original Shortstops: Luke Appling, Luis Aparicio
Just like the second basemen, the White Sox have two Hall of Famers to choose from at shortstop.  If Frank Thomas isn't the greatest player in franchise history then Appling is.  Famous for fouling off pitches until he got what he wanted, Appling twice led the league in hitting including a .388 average in 1936. Aparicio came up at a time when stolen bases were on the outs and immediately led the league. In fact he led the league his first nine seasons, topping out at 57.  He was a decent hitter but had no power and didn't walk much, however, his defense made him a special player.
Potential newcomers: Jose Valentin, Ozzie Guillen
The two things I remember most about the Valentin era are his power (hit 25+ home runs all five seasons) and people calling in to sports talk radio complaining about his errors. Truth be told, his defense was quite good and he should've been valued more. I think I'm only including Ozzie due to the number of years he spent in Chicago.

Original Third Basemen: Bill Melton, Willie Kamm, Buck Weaver
Trivia question: who was the Sox franchise home run leader prior to Carlton Fisk?
Answer: Bill Melton.
Melton was a very good hitter in the 1970s even leading the league in home runs in 1971.  His peak was quite short though and he only lasted ten years in the big leagues.  Willie Kamm played third in the 1920's and 30's and honestly was nothing special.  He wasn't a bad player but it's a small surprise he was included on the original roster in 1973.  Buck Weaver was an integral part of the great Sox teams of the 1910's and appeared to be turning the corner as a hitter before he was banned for life due to "associating with" known fixers. The man was innocent but banned for not ratting out his teammates.
Potential newcomers: Robin Ventura, Joe Crede
Ventura gets my vote for greatest third sacker in team history.  He hit more than 20 home runs nine times and hit more than 30 twice. He retired with an OPS+ of 114 and won six Gold Gloves.  On most franchises a player like Crede wouldn't be considered but with this motley crew he almost stacks up. An excellent defensive player with some power, back issues eventually caused him to call it a career at age 31.

Original Center Fielders: Johnny Mostil, Jim Landis
Mostil was an interesting player.  Hit for average? Check, .301 lifetime average. Speed? Check, led the league in stolen bases twice and averaged 14 triples per 162 games played. Defense? Check, I've read in a couple of places that he is the only centerfielder in history to catch a foul ball. Wow.  But he could've been more. Personal demons and injuries prevented him from reaching his potential.  Landis was an exceptional defender who had a couple of nice seasons hitting. He made one all star team but was rated as the AL's second best center fielder (behind Mantle) in the late '50s and early '60s.
Potential newcomers: Chet Lemon, Aaron Rowand, Lance Johnson, Fielder Jones
Lemon played a bit more for Detroit than the Sox but he had his best offensive seasons in black (or whatever you want to call this).  A strong defender, Lemon led the league in doubles and hit by pitch in 1979 and made two all star teams.  Aaron Rowand is famous for his defense but had some nice seasons with the Sox.  Lance Johnson led the league in triples four straight years and hits twice.  He was a decent base stealer but just a an okay defender.  I think he was underrated since he played in the steroid era but was not a home run hitter.  Fielder Jones was the first centerfielder in Sox history and he was pretty good for his first few years.  He played in the Dead Ball era so his stats are a little tough to decipher yet he still hit for a decent average and appeared to have a good eye. He declined quickly though and finished his career in the Federal League.

Original Corner Outfielders: Bibb Falk, Minnie Minoso, Taffy Wright
What is going on here? Was this the best the SI could do when they created the original team in 1973? After a quick check, I have to say yes.  Bibb Falk could hit for average but offered little power or speed. Taffy Wright is a similar player he just played in the 1940s and not the '20s like Falk. Minoso, on the other hand, was a great player.  He led the league in triples three times, stolen bases three times, hits, doubles, and total bases once. He also got hit by a ton of pitches, a category in which he ranks 9th all time.
Potential newcomers: Joe Jackson, Harold Baines, Carlos Lee, Magglio Ordonez, Jermaine Dye
Joe Jackson is on Cleveland's roster on the original game.  After a lot of thinking, I switched him for two reasons. First, Shoeless Joe is typically associated with the Sox for being the best player banned on the 1919 team. Second, if Joe had not been banned he would probably be wearing a Sox cap in Cooperstown since he would have played more games and won one or two World Series in Chicago. Granted, this is speculation but it's what I believe.  Harold Baines was one of the great stat accumulators. He had a few good years in the 80s but just kept playing forever and ranks in the top 10 in several categories for the Sox.  Lee was a good hitter in Chicago but it really says a lot about this team's history that he's included in the discussion.  Magglio was Lee's better half during their stint in Chicago and really was *this* close to being a superstar.  Injuries hurt his overall numbers.  Dye spent the last five years of his career with the Sox and never hit fewer than 27 home runs. His monstrous 2006 season is one of the best seasons ever for a Sox player.

The White Sox are pretty straight forward. Here's how they look:

Original White Sox New White Sox
Pos Player Alt Pos. Pos Player Alt Pos.
C Sherm Lollar C Sherm Lollar
C Ray Schalk C Ray Schalk
1B Earl Sheely 1B Frank Thomas
1B Joe Kuhel 1B Paul Konerko
2B Eddie Collins 2B Eddie Collins
2B Nellie Fox 2B Nellie Fox
3B Bill Melton OF 3B Robin Ventura 1B 
3B Willie Kamm SS Luke Appling 3B
3B Buck Weaver SS SS Luis Aparicio
SS Luke Appling 3B OF Joe Jackson
SS Luis Aparicio OF Minnie Minoso  3B 
OF Minnie Minoso 3B OF Harold Baines
OF Taffy Wright
OF Bibb Falk
CF Jim Landis OF
CF Johnny Mostil OF

There's been some big improvements here but let's not get too excited about this team just yet.  We still need two guys who can play center field and then we'll have one spot left.
  • Lance Johnson - Played in the '90s for the Sox and led the league in triples four straight times.  A decent base stealer, Johnson averaged 28 steals a season while in Chicago and hit .291/.334/.384 for his career.
  • Jim Landis - Strong defender with good but not great power. Won five Gold Gloves and made one all star team.
  • Chet Lemon - Lemon was a very good player but drove people crazy with his inconsistency. Led the league in doubles and HBP and had a decent batting eye. Career OPS+ is 121.
  • Johnny Mostil - Great player for 2-3 seasons but career was short due to his suicide attempt.  
  • Bill Melton - Sox all time home run leader until Carlton Fisk broke record. Hit 33 home runs in back to back seasons once leading the league.
  • Ray Durham - Durham hit 440 doubles and stole 273 bases in his career. He's clearly the third best second basemen in team history.
  • Magglio Ordonez - From 1999-2007 Magglio was a star. Injuries caused him to miss almost two full seasons in the middle, though.  Career OPS+ is 125.
  • Jose Valentin - Very good power for a middle infielder but strikeouts and errors drove people crazy. If he doesn't make it here we'll put him on the Brewers where he'll definitely make the team.
There will be two polls posted. One for backup CF and the other for the 25th man.

Update: Poll results elected Chet Lemon and Jim Landis as the two center fielders.  Magglio Ordonez was selected to take the final roster spot.
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