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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

All Time All Stars - Chicago White Sox Pitchers

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 Yankees All Time All Stars have the greatest offense you can imagine with their star power of Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, DiMaggio, and Jeter. The Red Sox have an incredible rotation of Pedro, Clemens, and Cy Young.  The White Sox have neither the intimidating offense nor any of the top ten pitchers of all time. What they do have, however, is an incredible depth of pitching talent to go along with excellent defense up the middle.  One could not script a better pairing. Four Hall of Famers lead the staff while the other five all received recognition as being at or near the top of the list as the league's best pitchers. Below is the pitching staff Sports Illustrated selected for the original All Time All Stars roster in 1973.
There are no bones to pick here and even if we weren't adding anyone this would be one of the deepest staffs in all of baseball. Faber, Lyons, Walsh, and Wilhelm are each Hall of Famers.  Cicotte very likely would have been had he not been kicked out of baseball for his role in the 1919 World Series.  Donovan, Pierce, White, and Wood are all very solid pitchers too.  Time to decide who sticks.

Original Locks: Ted Lyons, Ed Walsh, Red Faber, Eddie Cicotte, Billy Pierce, Hoyt Wilhelm, Wilbur Wood
Ted Lyons was an absolute monster and retired with 260 wins and an ERA of 3.67 despite pitching in the offensive rich "Babe Ruth" era.  Ed Walsh is the best pitcher in team history and his 145 career ERA+ ranks ninth all time.  Red Faber was not blamed for throwing the 1919 World Series enabling him to build an impressive career, winning 254 games.  Eddie Cicotte won 29 games threw 30 complete games in his penultimate season.  The knuckleballer was a borderline HOF candidate before he was banned for life. Billy Pierce was one of the best pitchers of the 1950s and made five straight all star teams in the decade.  Hoyt Wilhelm only pitched in Chicago six of his twenty one years but accumulated a 1.92 ERA as a member of the Sox. That's easily good enough to make this squad.  Wilbur Wood should be considered one of the greatest knuckleballers ever. He pitched an otherworldy 320+ innings four years in a row in the 1970s.  Prior to this he led the league in games finished three years in a row.  Never a Cy Young winner, he did finish in the top five three years in a row.

New guys that are locks: Mark Buehrle
As you can see Buehrle's super pumped he made the team. 
Buehrle, oh how I love thee.  He never won 20 games in a season and only struck out more than 150 batters one time. Despite this he was still a four time all star, won four gold gloves, and never failed to reach 200 innings pitched in a season. He just got the job done. Buehrle ranks sixth all time in pitcher WAR for the Sox.

While the Sox don't have the same name recognition as Boston, their staff is deeper and the bullpen is better. Buehrle is the eighth lock and we're carrying ten pitchers per team leaving two spots up for grabs. Here's who I believe the best pitchers are to complete the pitching staff.

Guys on the bubble:
  • Tommy John (career: 288-231, 3.34, 111 ERA+ /with Sox: 82-80, 2.95, 117)- Pitched with the Sox before having his famous surgery. Seems like he pitched forever and was able to win 288 games. Led the league in winning percentage twice, shutouts twice, and while in Chicago had an ERA+ of 117.  
  • Dick Donovan (122-99, 3.67, 104 / 73-50, 3.41, 113) -  Donovan averaged more than 10 complete games a season in Chicago. He led the league in winning percentage, complete games, shutouts, ERA, and WHIP at various points in his career. He was a three time all star.
  • Doc White (189-156, 2.39, 113 / 159-123, 2.30, 114) - Doc White was able to put up some ridiculous ERAs even for the Dead Ball Era.  He led the league in victories in 1907 with 27 and displayed excellent control throughout his career. He ranks in the top 10 in Sox history with 34.7 pitcher WAR.
  • Keith Foulke (41-37, 3.33, 140 / 18-19, 2.87, 166) - Keith Foulke saved 100 games for the Sox yet few outside of Chicago acknowledged his dominance.  He had an ERA+ over 200 three times and was the best reliever in the American League not named Mariano Rivera from 1998-2004. 
  • Roberto Hernandez (67-71, 3.45, 131 / 29-24, 2.87, 153) - He's probably still pitching in Puerto Rico or somewhere.  As a member of the White Sox was absolutely dominant as a late inning reliever. The Sox used him justly as he led the league in games finished three times and once again in Tampa.  A two time all star, his career numbers take a bit of a hit since he stuck around forever even as his fastball was no longer his best pitch.
  • Bobby Thigpen (31-36, 3.43, 119 / 28-33, 3.26, 125) - Thigpen spent eight years in Chicago and twice led the league in games finished. He also set the single season saves record that stood for nearly 30 years. That was truly an exceptional season for him and he had a couple of other decent seasons but was a below average reliever the second half of his career.
  • Jack McDowell (127-87, 3.85, 111 / 91-58, 3.50, 117) - Black Jack was an excellent pitcher for a brief time. He won the 1993 Cy Young Award and finished second in 1992.  He also led the league in complete games three times and made three straight all star teams. His post-White Sox career was unimpressive as he struggled with injuries that eventually led to his retirement. He also plays a mean guitar. Rock on, Jack. Rock on.

There's a lot to choose from here and I'll have to think pretty hard about this before I cast my own vote. Please vote for the two pitchers you feel should make the team in the poll located on the upper right-hand side of the homepage.

Update: The two players selected in the poll are Jack McDowell and Tommy John. Two solid picks.
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