After signing with the Chicago White Sox as an 18-year-old in February 1994, Panamanian native Carlos Lee needed some time to develop. He spent five seasons in the minor leagues before making his big league debut on May 7, 1999, against the Oakland A’s. He started his career with a bang, taking knuckleballer Tom Candiotti deep in his first major league at-bat.
The homers kept on coming over Lee’s six seasons in Chicago, 152 of them in all, which is 10th on the franchise’s all-time list, per Baseball-Reference.com. Lee’s homer totals climbed throughout his time with the White Sox, from 16 as a rookie to 24 in each of the next two seasons, 26 in 2002 and 31 in both 2003 and 2004.
For his 6-foot-2, 270-pound frame, Lee was a surprisingly nimble baserunner as well, stealing 18 bases in 22 attempts in 2003 and swiping a total of 64 bags in his six seasons with the Sox. And he was durable, never playing less than 140 games in a season after his shortened rookie season, when he played in 127 contests after a late start.
Lee drove in 113 runs in 2003 and topped the 100 runs scored mark three times, including a career-high 107 in 2000, when Chicago won the American League Central Division before being swept by the wild-card Seattle Mariners in the ALDS.
But Lee missed out on the World Series hoopla of 2005, as he was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers in a four-player trade on Dec. 13, 2004. The White Sox got back sparkplug center fielder Scott Podsednik and middle reliever Luis Vizcaino, while also getting minor league Travis Hinton a month later to complete the deal.
From 1999-2004, Lee slashed .288/.340/.488 in 880 games, with 192 doubles and 152 homers to go with 552 RBI, 255 walks and 501 strikeouts in 3,647 plate appearances.
Lee was only in Milwaukee for a season and a half before he was traded to the Texas Rangers before hitting free agency in the fall of 2006. Lee spent most of the next six seasons with the Houston Astros before being traded on July 4, 2012, to the Miami Marlins. He became a free agent after the 2012 season and faded into retirement.