White Sox have a number of retired players on the ballot for the Hall of Fame for 2019. Which player has the best chanced to be inducted in Cooperstown?
The White Sox are well-represented on the 2019 Hall of Fame Ballot.
The Baseball Writers of Association ballot includes eight former White Sox players: Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland, Manny Ramirez, Andruw Jones, Omar Vizquel, Juan Pierre, Kevin Youkilis, and Sammy Sosa. The Today’s Game Era ballot features three more White Sox players, Harold Baines, Minnie Minoso and Albert Belle.
Of the 10 players with White Sox connections, here are the 11 ranked in order of the best chance they have to make the hall of fame:
#1: Omar Vizquel – Vizquel played two years on the White Sox, from 2010-2011, filling in at third base and other infield spots. He is currently a manager for the White Sox high A-ball team. Vizquel is best known for being a premium defender at shortstop for the Cleveland Indians in the 1990’s. He has 2877 hits and 11 Gold Gloves to his name, which helped him get 37% of the vote in 2018, making it highly possible that he gets voted in at some point down the road.
That being said, there are legitimate questions whether he truly deserves it. He only compiled a 45.6 career WAR, which is below average for a Hall-of-Fame position player. His defense at shortstop was fantastic but as good as similar bad-bat-good-glove Ozzie Smith. He also only made three All-Star teams, whereas most Hall-of-Fame-caliber players have at least five.
#2: Minnie Minoso – 50.5 career WAR, 130 OPS+, seven-time All-Star. As the White Sox first black player and important baseball historical figure, I definitely think Minoso deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame. He is the first of many great White Sox Cuban players, and has the distinction of playing in five different decades.
#3: Andruw Jones – Although Jones almost fell off the ballot in his first year, many feel he was undervalued, with a 62.8 career WAR and a key player on many division-title winning Braves teams.
By the time he got to the White Sox in 2010, he was a solid lefty masher for them, while also playing the outfield. If you include all of his professional baseball stats, he hit 550 home runs in his career. Hitting 434 in the major leagues while playing all-time great defense in center field helps his case, even if he never really hit for average.
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#4: Manny Ramirez – Ramirez played on the White Sox in 2010 with Andruw Jones, where he hit his only home run with the Sox and last of his career. Ramirez could potentially be on the ballot through 2026, so if his former partner in crime (and also linked-to-PEDs slugger) David Ortiz gets in, that could really help his chances.
#5: Albert Belle – Belle spent two years on the White Sox and his 1998 season was arguably the best in White Sox history. While his career ended faster than he would have liked, his 144 career OPS+ is nothing to sleep on. He was one of the best hitters in baseball, although the good-character clause might continue to be a problem.
#6: Sammy Sosa – Sosa was acquired for Harold Baines in 1989, and spent three years on the team before he was traded in 1992 to the Cubs in one of the worst trades in White Sox history. Some Cubs haters might be happy about his slim chances, but I feel that if Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens can get Hall-of-Fame consideration, than Sosa should too.
#7: Harold Baines – He played for the White Sox for fourteen (non-consecutive) years. While he is one of the best White Sox outfielders of all time, a primarily power-hitting corner outfielder who never hit 30 home runs in a season is generally not a good candidate for the Hall of Fame.
#8: Kevin Youkilis – Youkilis played for the White Sox in 2012, like Ramirez, he’s more famous for his time with the other Sox.
#9: Freddy Garcia – Garcia had two solid stints with the White Sox, helping them win a World Series in his first stint and helping them acquire Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez in the other. He was also a key member of the 116-win 2001 Mariners, meaning he was a key contributor in two of the greatest teams of the 2000’s decade. With 156 wins and a 4.15 career ERA, he’s not a Hall of Famer, but he did have a great career.
#10: Jon Garland – Another member of the ChiSox great 2005 starting rotation. Like Garcia, 136 wins is nice, but it’s not Hall-of-Fame level. Mark Buehrle is the member of the 2005 rotation with the best chance to get in, so maybe when he gets in it will feel like they all get in. It would still be nice to see Garland or Garcia get a few votes.
#11: Juan Pierre – Pierre played two full season on the South Side, from 2010-2011. His greatest career accomplishments include being a key member on the 2003 championship Marlins, as well as stealing 614 career bases. He stole a league-leading 68 bases in 2010 with the White Sox. Given how quickly the similar-but-superior-player Kenny Lofton fell of the ballot, it’s unclear if Pierre will get a single vote. In any case, he’ll always be number Juan in our hearts.
Interestingly, five of these players played on the 2010 White Sox team. At 88-74, the team played well, but couldn’t overcome the Minnesota Twins. Perhaps this clears up that the strategy of acquiring veterans passed their prime isn’t good for winning, and may explain the team’s current path to rebuilding after blowing up the whole thing.