The city of Chicago, Illinois is home to a pair of Major League Baseball teams. They are the Cubs who are members of the National League Central, and the White Sox of the American League Central. This past fall, the Cubs celebrated a World Series win in a memorable Game 7 against the Cleveland Indians. But on the South Side, the White Sox have remained a bottom dweller in the AL despite breaking their WS drought in 2005. Despite losing slugger Frank Thomas to injury, they went 11-1 in the '05 postseason en route to their third World Championship in team history.
The White Sox won the AL Central in 2000 and 2008 but failed to reach the World Series both times. Chicago's other pro baseball team has missed the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons since they lost in the '08 AL Division Series to Tampa Bay. Despite boasting the likes of Jose Abreu and Brett Lawrie, this organization appears to be in another rebuilding phase. The White Sox replaced manager Robin Ventura and hired Rick Renteria for the 2017 season. And in December, they dealt pitcher Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox. Let's take a look the nine best and worst White Sox players since the 2000 season.
21 Magglio Ordonez - Best
Magglio Ordonez might be best known for his walk-off homer for the Detroit Tigers that ended the 2006 ALCS, but he established a standout career with their division rivals in the Windy City. Ordonez made his White Sox debut in August 1997, then had some very productive seasons that puts him on the list as one of the best White Sox players. Over a five-season span, Ordonez batted over .300 and averaged 30-plus homers per year. All that hard work at the plate led to a pair of Silver Slugger awards for Ordonez in 2000 and '02. Ultimately, he suffered through an injury-plagued 2004 which represented his last season with the Sox and would join the Tigers in 2005.
Ordonez essentially missed an opportunity to win the 2005 World Series in Chicago, but still had a good run with the pennant-winning HR and one batting title in 2007 with Detroit. He retired from baseball due to ankle problems in 2011, having spent his entire career in the AL Central.
20 Tyler Flowers - Worst
Tyler Flowers takes his place as the ninth-worst White Sox player due to his lack of production at the plate. Flowers played only 108 games from 2009 to '12 with Chicago until he became their full-time catcher by 2013, and batted .195 with 10 home runs and 24 RBIs. Flowers cited a shoulder injury as the reason for his poor performance in '13. He recorded career-highs in homers (15) and runs driven in (50) the following year but struck out 159 times. His offensive production fell in 2015, falling short of a 50-RBI season.
Even though the White Sox praised him for his pitch framing and game-calling with their pitching staff, they decided not to offer Flowers a contract for 2016, citing a need to improve their offense as a whole. Flowers went on to play 84 games for the Atlanta Braves last season.
19 Chris Sale - Best
Chris Sale takes his spot as the seventh best White Sox player primarily for what he accomplished as their starting pitcher. A lanky hurler out of Lakeland, Florida, Sale began his career in Chicago out of the bullpen from 2010 to '11, then joined the starting rotation in 2012. He posted 17 wins that season, but Sale proved that 2012 was no fluke. Although Sale struggled to an 11-14 record in 2013, he had a strong '14 season with 12 victories and a career-best 2.17 ERA. Sale continued his dominance on the mound, posting an AL-leading 274 strikeouts in 2015.
Those impressive numbers from Sale speak to how he became a legitimate ace on some awful White Sox teams over the years. Despite a strong 2016 from Sale, the White Sox dealt him to the Boston Red Sox for some young prospects. Sale is expected to anchor a talented rotation that possesses two Cy Young winners in David Price and Rick Porcello.
18 Gavin Floyd - Worst
Pitcher Gavin Floyd lands on the list as one of the worst White Sox players in recent years due his sudden fall from a strong season in '08 to flat-out inconsistency on the mound. In 2006, the Sox traded pitcher Freddy Garcia who made the start in Game 4 of the '05 WS versus Houston to the Philadelphia Phillies and Floyd headed west to the Windy City. He started 2007 in the Sox bullpen, then they promoted him to the rotation the next season.
Floyd shined with a 17-8 record and 206.1 innings pitched, but it was the only time in his career that he picked up 10 or more wins and pitched 200 innings. Floyd won 45 games and lost 48 during the 2009 to '12 campaigns, then made two trips to the disabled list back in 2013 which effectively ended his White Sox tenure. Floyd recently signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays for the upcoming 2017 season.
16 A.J. Pierzynski - Best
We turn our attention to another White Sox catcher, A.J. Pierzynski. One of Major League Baseball's most competitive and fiery players for 19 years, he played eight seasons in the Windy City, helped the team with a World Series over a decade ago, and became a fan favorite during his long tenure there. Pierzynski began his career in 1998 for the Minnesota Twins, had a one-year stint in San Francisco and joined the White Sox before the '05 season. Pierzynski became a consistent hitter and run producer, recording eight consecutive seasons of 40-plus RBIs and over 100 hits for the Sox. Not only did he help them win a World Championship in 2005, but he earned a Silver Slugger award in 2012 at the age of 35.
Pierzynski left the organization as a free agent and signed with the Texas Rangers before 2013. The White Sox might not have won their '05 title without the on-field leadership of Pierzynski and the impact he had at the plate.
15 Javier Vazquez - Worst
A veteran pitcher who began his career with the Montreal Expos in 1998 and had decent success, Javier Vazquez seemed to struggle at times in 2004 and 2005 with the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks. Vazquez stumbled in his only season as a D-Back with an 11-15 record and 4.42 ERA. But during the 2005 offseason, the White Sox traded for the Puerto Rican right-hander. Vazquez matched his win total during the 2006 campaign, but he took 12 losses and raised his ERA to 4.84.
The only good season Vazquez had on the South Side was 2007, recording 15 wins and over 200 strikeouts, but he struggled in '08 with more than 10 losses. The Sox cut ties with Vazquez after three seasons, trading him to the Atlanta Braves following the conclusion of the 2008 season.
14 Juan Uribe - Best
Juan Uribe became one of the unlikeliest contributors for the White Sox in the mid-2000s. The Dominican-born slugger consistently drove in runs and played solid defense during his career in the South Side, but his offensive and defensive contributions during the remarkable '05 postseason lifted the White Sox to their first world title in 87 years. At the age of 26, Uribe played in all 12 playoff games, homering once and collected six RBIs.
He went on to record the last two outs of the ninth in Game 4, as the 2005 World Series ended in a sweep against the Houston Astros. Although he struggled mightily with the Sox in 2008, Uribe moved on to the San Francisco Giants two years later and helped them win their first World Series title in 56 years over the Texas Rangers.
13 Nick Swisher - Worst
Nick Swisher had a solid start to his big league career for the Oakland Athletics, including a career year in 20o6. Swisher collected 35 home runs and 95 RBIs that season until Oakland GM Billy Beane traded him to the White Sox for three minor league prospects in January 2008. At the time of the deal, Swisher had four seasons of MLB experience on his resume. Unfortunately, the switch-hitter had a poor '08 season with the Sox, batting just .219 with 24 homers and 135 strikeouts in Chicago.
The team would trade him to the New York Yankees before the 2009 season. Swisher would return to form in the Bronx and led the Yanks to their 27th World Series title during his first year in pinstripes. Between 2010-15, Swisher played out the remainder of his career with New York, Cleveland, and Atlanta.
11 Scott Podsednik - Best
Scott Podsednik became one of the best base stealers of his generation. The West, Texas-born outfielder quietly began his career with the Seattle Mariners, then Podsednik stole 113 bases in two seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers who traded him to the White Sox for Carlos Lee before the '05 season. The deal immediately paid dividends for Chicago, as Podsednik recorded 59 stolen bases in his first season, then made significant contributions to their 12-game playoff run with two home runs and six RBIs. Podsednik's second postseason homer off Astros closer Brad Lidge ended Game 2 of the World Series in the 9th inning and gave the Sox a 2-0 series lead.
Although Podsednik's stolen base totals went below 50 in '06 and '07, the Sox did not retain him for 2008 and played one year for the Colorado Rockies. However, he rejoined the White Sox in '09 and seemingly returned to form on the basepaths with 30 stolen bases. The one-time World Series champion finished his career with the Kansas City Royals, L.A. Dodgers, and Boston Red Sox.
10 Jeff Samardzija - Worst
Nicknamed the Shark, Jeff Samardzija came to the South Side before the 2015 season from the Oakland Athletics. He began his big league career with the Chicago Cubs in 2008, then joined Oakland late in the 2014 season. Samardzija went 5-6 in 16 games for the A's until they dealt him to the Chicago White Sox.
His tenure with the team was mostly forgettable, sporting an 11-13 record in 32 starts and a disappointing 4.96 ERA in 2015. Samardzija himself said that he tipped his pitches during his poor 2015 campaign. To no one's surprise, the Sox did not retain Samardzija for 2016 and would sign a multi-year deal with the San Francisco Giants. Samardzjia will hope to revive his career in the Bay Area.
8 Jermaine Dye - Best
Jermaine Dye might go down in baseball history as one of the game's underrated players. A consistent hitter and run producer, he recorded four 100-RBI seasons and earned one Gold Glove Award in his career for his defensive play in the outfield. Dye played his first nine big league seasons for Atlanta, Kansas City, and Oakland until joining the Sox for the 2005 season. Dye had a strong '05 campaign with 31 home runs with 86 RBIs, but his game-winning RBI single in Game 4 of the World Series is what White Sox fans will remember about him. Dye's single led to a 1-0 win by Chicago and a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros. He earned World Series MVP for posting a .438 average, a homer, and three RBIs.
Dye followed up his recent success a year later, hitting a career-high 44 homers and 120 runs knocked in for the White Sox which led to a Silver Slugger Award in 2006. Dye played his last five seasons for Chicago, then retired in 2011 with a .274 average.
7 John Danks - Worst
John Danks might go down as one of the franchise's most disappointing pitchers in their history. The lefty made his major league debut early in 2007 but finished his rookie year with a 6-13 record and a 5.50 ERA. Some White Sox fans might remember Danks' performance in the 2008 AL Central tiebreaker vs. the Minnesota Twins, where he threw eight shutout innings and earned a 1-0 win. Although Danks won more than 10 games from '08 to '10, his next five seasons were forgettable. Because of arthroscopic surgery, Danks appeared in nine games for 2012, lost 14 games the next year, and had a career-high 15 defeats in 2015. Danks lost all four of his April starts last year, which led to his release by the team in May. His ten-year tenure for Chicago saw him earn a 79-105 record in over 200 starts.
6 Mark Buehrle - Best
What can you say about Mark Buehrle as one the best White Sox players of the last 16 seasons? He confounded batters with strikeouts, pitched multiple complete games, liked to work fast on the mound, and took home one World Series championship. During his 12-year career with the Sox, he won 161 games and made four All-Star appearances. Buehrle's performance in the 2005 postseason was outstanding, going 2-0 in four appearances. His run included a complete-game effort in Game 2 of the ALCS, which led to a controversial Sox win in the 9th over the Angels. With the Sox leading 7-5 in extra innings during Game 3 of the World Series versus the Astros, manager Ozzie Guillen placed Buehrle in a 14th inning save situation and got the final out. Since Buehrle won his first World Series, Buehrle threw a no-hitter in 2007 against the Texas Rangers, then pitched the 18th perfect game in MLB history vs. the Tampa Bay Rays in July 2009.
Buehrle even received a phone call from U.S. President Barack Obama for putting his name in baseball immortality. If only the White Sox regularly made the postseason during the 2000s, who knows how many championships Buehrle would have won?
5 Gordon Beckham - Worst
Gordon Beckham is the third-worst White Sox position player due to his inability to live up to the hype. The Atlanta-born second baseman made his Sox debut in 2009 and had a promising rookie season with 14 homers and 69 RBIs, but his offensive production began to decline rapidly. Having played 79 career games in the minors, Beckham's RBI totals dropped to 50 or less, even though he returned to form with 60 in the 2012 season. But Beckham's career lowlight came in a June 2013 White Sox home game against the New York Mets. Chicago held a 4-3 lead in the 9th until Beckham misplayed an infield popup by the Mets' Daniel Murphy that allowed the tying run to score from second base.
The Sox went on to win the game in walk-off fashion, but Beckham criticized himself for his costly error to the media. The team traded him to the Angels in 2014, then he returned to the Sox the following season where he disappointed yet again. Beckham batted .209 in his second stint with the club.
4 Paul Konerko - Best
Paul Konerko won the hearts of White Sox fans for his leadership, good work ethic, and his offensive production at the plate during his 16-season career. Konerko became their everyday first baseman in 1999 and posted prolific statistics that might place him in Cooperstown. His records with the Sox include six 100-RBI seasons, a pair of 40-plus home run seasons, and six All-Star appearances. But Konerko's signature White Sox moment came in his only trip to the World Series, as he connected on a grand slam in Game 2 that led to Scott Podsednik's walk-off homer in the 9th against the Astros. The 2014 campaign marked Konerko's last pro season, as he played his final game on September 28th. The White Sox retired Konerko's #14 in 2015.
3 Adam LaRoche - Worst
Baseball fans might remember Adam LaRoche for his memorable departure from the big leagues in 2016 for White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams asking him not to bring his son to work and enter the clubhouse every day. Before LaRoche signed with the Sox for 2015, he played a majority of his 12-year career in the National League including the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks and Washington Nationals. The 2015 season went down as one of the worst years of LaRoche's career statistically. As the White Sox's newest designated hitter, he batted a disappointing .207 with 12 homers and 44 RBIs. But his decision to retire from baseball last year perhaps overshadowed his forgettable one-year tenure in Chicago due to how much attention the clubhouse issue attracted.
2 Frank Thomas
Who else could it be but "The Big Hurt"? Not only is Frank Thomas the best White Sox player since 2000, but he's possibly the franchise's greatest player of all time. The Hall of Famer spent many years with the White Sox and had to suffer through many losing seasons, but thankfully in 2005, Thomas's loyalty with the White Sox finally paid off when they broke an 86-year curse to win the World Series.
Thomas's numbers with the Sox are staggering. In 16 seasons on the South Side, Thomas hit 448 home runs, 1,465 RBIs and a .301 batting average. Thomas left the White Sox following their world championship and finished his career with stints in Oakland and Toronto, where he joined the 500 home run club. It was a shame he couldn't finish his career in Chicago.
1 Adam Dunn - Worst
Former slugger Adam Dunn takes the top spot as the worst White Sox player since 2000. He began his career with the Cincinnati Reds in 2001 and posted five 40-plus home run seasons from 2004 to '08. Dunn continued to be an offensive threat with a pair of 100-RBI seasons for the Washington Nationals in 2009-10 until the White Sox signed him to a four-year deal worth $56 million. Dunn's 2011 season was very disappointing production-wise, as it dropped from 38 homers and 103 RBIs in 2010 to 11 homers and 42 runs driven in along with a .159 average. To make matters worse, Dunn failed to record a 100-RBI season during his four-year tenure in Chicago and set a career-high for strikeouts over a single season with 222 in 2012.
The 2014 campaign marked the final year of Dunn's contract with the Sox, but they traded him to the Oakland Athletics in August. It seemed that Dunn just couldn't live up to expectations and the massive contract he signed with Chicago, despite his past success in the National League.