The Chicago White Sox had a legend in Frank Thomas and the Chicago Cubs had one in Ernie Banks. Who was better over the duration of their careers?
There has been some debate on Chicago sports Twitter over the last week or so about the “Mt. Rushmore” of Chicago sports athletes. It is fair to assume that Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton and Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan each take up one of the two spots, but some heated debate over the final two spots has fans going crazy. In particular, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs fans going at it defending their guys.
A lot of these debates came as a result of “The Last Dance” and “Long Gone Summer” airing that both highlighted prominent Chicago athletes. A Frank Thomas vs Ernie Banks debate sparked as a result of all this. It was even a debate on ESPN 1000’s show “Kap and Co” that led to a twitter poll on David Kaplan’s Twitter page.
Frank Thomas won the poll as you can see above, which isn’t really unfair. Ernie Banks was certainly a beloved member of the Chicago sports world for what he did on and off the field but Thomas was simply a better baseball player. It is not disrespectful to Banks to say that Thomas deserves Chicago sports Mt. Rushmore consideration over him.
Thomas and Banks are both members of the pro baseball Hall of Fame. They both have two MVP’s for their respective leagues. Thomas had a career WAR of 73.8 and Banks was at 67.8. It isn’t that big of a difference but it is big enough to say that Thomas gets the advantage in terms of who you would rather have. Thomas is in the conversation for one of the best right-handed hitters who ever lived and potentially just hitters in general.
Thomas slashed .301/.419/.555 which outweighs Banks’ .274/.330/.500. Thomas had an OPS of .974 and Banks was at .830. Both have all-time great statistics but the hitter that Thomas was is second to pretty much no one in terms of Chicago baseball history. Ernie Banks was an incredible ballplayer and person but this debate should be put to rest after seeing the statistics next to each other.