Chicago White Sox

Chicago White Sox (Photo by fifg on Shutterstock)

Chicago is one of the greatest sports cities in America. However, when it comes to baseball, Chicago is divided. The city is split into two different worlds – the North side and the South side. North siders pull for the Cubs while South siders traditionally cheer for the White Sox. This unspoken law of the Chicago sports scene makes for some truly passionate baseball fans, and a unique rivalry between Cubs and White Sox fans, or North-siders and South-siders. To honor Chicago baseball fans, we’re breaking down the best White Sox Players of all time. 

Again, Chicago has a rich baseball history. Both the Cubs and White Sox have been playing in Chicago for over 100 years and both have won World Series championships in the new millennium with the Cubs breaking a 100-year title drought that left many fans feeling the team finally broke a curse. And speaking of cursed sports teams, a recent study suggests that over half of sports fans are superstitious. A survey of 2,400 American sports fans found that 62 percent of fans have blamed themselves for their team’s loss. Furthermore, nearly 40 percent of those fans feel like a family member is bad luck and has even asked that person to leave on game days. 

The baseball scene in Chicago is no different. Cubs fans and White Sox fans have to coexist in the same city, and in a lot of cases, they must exist within the same family. It’s common for families in Chicago to be split on their baseball fandom between the Cubs and Sox. And when these two teams play one another, it makes for a lot of fun in the city of Chicago. But, a recent study suggests that rival sports fans can experience the same game differently. Scientists at the University of York in the United Kingdom studied the brains of rival soccer fans watching the same highlights. Researchers found that while the participants were seeing the exact same plays, how the brain interpreted the information differed greatly between the two sides and hinged more emotion and bias. This sports rivalry phenomenon definitely makes for an interesting Thanksgiving at your family’s house in Chicago. 

So, which players deserve to be called the greats? StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 sports and baseball-oriented websites in an effort to bring you a consensus list of the best White Sox players in history. Our list comprises the five most frequently listed players from across these sites. As always, feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! 

US Cellular Field home of the Chicago White Sox
Cellular Field – Home of the Chicago White Sox” by Geoff Livingston is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The List: Best White Sox Players, According to Sports Experts

1. Luke Appling (1930-1943, 1945-1950)

Luke Appling played his entire career in a White Sox uniform, and his legacy is unmatched in the city of Chicago“Appling starred on the left side of the infield for Chicago for two decades–while even taking a year off in 1944 to serve in the military. He made seven all-star teams, won two batting titles, and retired in 1950 with a lifetime slash line of .310/.399/.398. Power was not a huge part of his game, as Appling hit only 45 big-league home runs, but he was a pesky contact hitter who could use his legs to make things happen. He’s still the franchise’s all-time leader in games played, plate appearances, and hits, and Chicago retired his number four in 1975. Appling was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1964,” explains Yardbarker

Like a lot of players of his era, Appling missed a couple of seasons to serve in World War II. Regardless, Appling retired as one of the best shortstops in MLB history and the best White Sox player of all time. 

“Despite losing the 1944 season to service in World War II, Appling’s resume puts him among the greatest shortstops in MLB history. A two-time American League batting champion, Appling spent all 20 years of his career with the White Sox. He’s the franchise’s all-time leader in fWAR (72.7), hits (2,749), singles (2,162) and times on base (4,062). Appling was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1964, and his No. 4 was retired by the White Sox in 1975,” adds Audacy

Appling’s stats are truly mind-blowing. Luke Appling hit over .300 a staggering 15 times over the course of his illustrious career and his career on-base percentage hovers right at .400. As a result, Appling was beloved by White Sox fans and he even received a special thanks from White Sox, Charles Comiskey, whom the Sox ballpark was named after for decades. 

“[Appling’s] fifth-best season came when he was 39. Appling won his second batting crown when he was 36, and he ultimately hit .300 fifteen times. He played 22 years in the big leagues, every game as a member of the White Sox. Late in his career the franchise held a Luke Appling Day, and owner Charles Comiskey Jr. presented his popular shortstop with a check for $100 for every season he’d played in a Chicago uniform,” furthers Baseball Egg

2. Frank Thomas (1990-2005)

The second spot on the list of the best White Sox players of all time belongs to the living legend, ‘The Big Hurt,’ Frank Thomas. He is White Sox royalty, and his ability to hit the long ball will live on in Chicago baseball lore for generations to come. 

image of Frank Thomas receiving an award at a White Sox game
Frank Thomas holding a proclamation that makes August 16th “Frank Thomas Day” in Illinois (“Governor Pat Quinn at US Cellular Quinn, Chicago, IL—August 16, 2014” by patquinnforillinois is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

“The Big Hurt made his MLB debut with the White Sox in August 1990, and from 1991 to 1997, he was a superstar. This seven-year period was one of the greatest by a hitter in MLB history, as Thomas slugged 20+ HRs, had 100+ RBI, drew 100+ walks, and hit over .300 each year. He also went to five All-Star games, won three Silver Sluggers, two MVPs, and a batting title. His 1994 season, in which he won his second MVP, was one for the ages: Thomas hit for a .353 average and led the league in runs, walks, OBP, SLG, and OPS while slugging 38 HRs and driving in 101 runs,” explains Pitcher List

It’s important to note that the 1994 MLB season was the strike-shortened season in which the league didn’t play a full schedule. Obviously, that didn’t slow down the offensive output of Frank Thomas.  “Thomas is one of the most imposing hitters in MLB history and the greatest White Sox player of all time. ‘The Big Hurt’ won back-to-back AL MVPs (1993-94) and leads the franchise in most statistical categories, including home runs (448), doubles (447), RBIs (1,465), runs created (1,770), runs scored (1,327) and more. Thomas became the first White Sox player to hit 40 home runs in 1993 and had his best MLB season the next year (strike-shortened 1994 season) when he batted .353 with 38 home runs and 101 RBIs en route to his second consecutive AL MVP,” writes BVM Sports

It’s fair to say that Frank Thomas is the only player who could possibly challenge Luke Appling as the best White Sox player in the history of the franchise. No matter which side you’re on, White Sox fans have to appreciate Frank Thomas’ career accomplishments and his dedication to the team and the city of Chicago

“With all due respect to Luke Appling and everything he did for this club in the ’30s and ’40s, the White Sox have never had more of an offensive force than Frank Thomas. The big right-handed slugger was one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball for a decade and a half while with Chicago and owns most of the franchise’s significant offensive records. Thomas was a five-time all-star who won back-to-back AL MVP awards in ’93 and ’94. He was a batting champ, won four Silver Sluggers, and even took home the Home Run Derby trophy in 1995. Thomas crushed 448 homers and drove in 1465 runs for the White Sox–both the most in franchise history,” adds Yardbarker

3. Eddie Collins (1915-1926)

Sliding into the third spot on the list of the best White Sox players of all time is none other than legendary second baseman Eddie Collins. Eddie Collins doesn’t get as much recognition as he probably should, mostly due to playing over 100 years ago. Still, Collins had a remarkable career with the White Sox and he was widely regarded as one of the best second basemen of his generation. 

“Collins was very fast and athletic with boundless energy. Everywhere Eddie went on a baseball field, he ran. He choked up on the bat and hit the ball to the opposite field more than he pulled it. He was overshadowed as an offensive force because he arrived in the league almost precisely when Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker did,” notes Baseball Egg

Collins had amazing patience at the plate and that’s evidenced by his tendency to hit the ball to the opposite field. Collins could sit on a pitch and wait for the perfect moment to swing the bat and pull the proverbial trigger. Collins was also a great baserunner, and he still holds the White Sox record for most steals in one game with six. 

“Second baseman Eddie Collins began his career with the Philadelphia Athletics. He won the MVP award in 1914, but following that season, he was purchased by the White Sox for the meager, by today’s standards, the sum of $50,000. That proved to be money well spent for Chicago. In 12 seasons for the White Sox, Collins slashed .331/.426/.424 with 31 homers, 803 RBI, 266 doubles, 102 triples, and an incredible 368 stolen bases. He led the league in steals three times while wearing a Chicago uniform and is the franchise’s all-time leader in that category,” explains Yardbarker

Collins played during the ‘dead ball era’ but he wasn’t a power hitter to start with, so don’t let his meager home run total fool you into thinking he wasn’t one of the best hitters of his time. And, Collins was just as great in the field as he was at the plate. 

“Wedged in between two stints with the Philadelphia Athletics, Collins had an incredible 12-year run with the White Sox. While with the White Sox, Collins finished runner-up in American League MVP voting in 1923 and 1924. Affectionally referred to as ‘Cocky,’ Collins led the AL in stolen bases three times, and is the White Sox all-time leader in stolen bases with 368. Hall of Fame manager John McGraw once referred to Collins as the best ballplayer I have seen during my career on the diamond,” furthers Audacy

4. ‘Big’ Ed Walsh (1904-1916)  

Throwing his way into the fourth spot on the list of the best White Sox players of all time is none other than ‘Big’ Ed Walsh, who played for the White Sox for 13 seasons, and he was one of the best pitchers that fans of the franchise have ever seen. 

“Right-hander Ed Walsh was arguably the best American League pitcher of his era and is someone that is just not talked about nearly enough. Walsh spent the first 14 years of his career in Chicago with the White Sox, and what he was able to accomplish really jumps off the page. In 426 games (312 starts), Walsh earned 195 victories with an incredible 1.81 ERA. He threw 249 complete games–including 49 shutouts, led the league in innings pitched four times, earned two ERA titles, and won 40 games in 1908. He was instrumental in the White Sox winning the World Series in 1906 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Old Timers Committee in 1946,” explains Yardbarker

Walsh is the MLB’s all-time franchise leader in several pitching categories including ERA. Although Walsh didn’t have as long a career as some of the all-time great pitchers of his era, ‘Big Ed’ is considered to be the most dominant. 

“Walsh didn’t have a 20-year career, but during his 13 seasons with the White Sox he was an absolute workhorse, both as a starter and weapon in relief. Walsh won 40 games in 1908, and threw 390 or more innings in three separate seasons. Additionally, Walsh won ERA titles in 1907 and 1910. Not only is Walsh the all-time leader among White Sox pitchers in ERA (1.81) and FIP (2.01), but ‘Big Ed’ is Major League Baseball’s all-time leader in both categories. Walsh was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946,” explains Audacy

In retrospect, Ed Walsh gets a lot of love from critics and baseball experts. He was an extremely valuable player and deserves his place amongst the best White Sox players of all time. 

“If Ed Walsh was not the greatest pitcher who ever lived, he was certainly the most valuable in his prime. He could pitch as well as anyone. But he had tremendous added value because his great strength allowed him to pitch out of turn and save a whole raft of games for other pitchers,” adds Baseball Egg

5. Ted Lyons (1923-1942, 1946)

Ted Lyons is the only player on this list that can safely challenge Ed Walsh as the White Sox’s best pitcher. Of course, Ted Lyons pitched during a different era, and he had to face some of the best hitters in MLB history on a regular basis. 

“Ted Lyons began his career with the White Sox nearly 100 years ago, and what he was able to accomplish in 21 seasons with the club cemented his status as the most notable pitcher in the history of the franchise. Lyons earned 260 victories in a Chicago uniform while pitching to a 3.67 ERA. He was an all-star, won an ERA title, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1955. He’s the organization’s all-time leader in complete games and wins, and the team rightfully retired his number 16 in 1986,” raves Yardbarker

It took a little while for Lyons to gain traction as a member of the White Sox organization, but once he found his place, Lyons did not let up. And like many other MLB players of his time, Lyons left his professional baseball career to fight in World War II. 

“Lyons first saw action during the 1923 season but didn’t stick with the club until 1924. He was a workhorse for Chicago, throwing over 200 innings for the first 11 seasons of his career. He led the league in innings pitched and complete games in 1927 and 1930 with 307/30 and 297/29, respectively. In 1942, which was Lyons’s last season before enlisting, he won the ERA title with a 2.10 mark. That season he also completed all 20 games he started. 1939 was also a great season for Lyons, as he had a league-leading FIP of 2.84 and WHIP of 1.09. His control was so good that year that he went 42 consecutive innings without issuing a walk. It took a few tries, but the Hall of Fame admitted Lyons in 1955,” adds Pitcher List

Ted Lyons played his entire career in a White Sox uniform, and after he was finished pitching for the club, Lyons took over as the team’s manager. “Ted Lyons is another iconic figure that spent a huge period of time playing for the White Sox. He is a legendary Hall of Fame pitcher that spent all 21 of his MLB seasons pitching for the Sox. He led the AL in wins in two different years, pitched a no-hitter for the team, and took over as the team’s manager after retiring,” furthers Chicago Sports Nation

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About Matthew Sherdan

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