White Sox: The Mount Rushmore of Sox first basemen

Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Mount Rushmore of White Sox first basemen: Frank Thomas

Frank Thomas had a tough act to follow when he graduated from Columbus (Georgia) High School in 1986 and committed to play both football and baseball at Auburn University. After all, he was following a fairly well-known two-sport star for the Tigers in Bo Jackson, the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner and future MLB All-Star.

But Thomas turned out OK. Taken by the Chicago White Sox seventh overall in 1989, he debuted for the Sox in August 1990 and never looked back. Over the final two months of the season, he hit .330 with a .983 OPS. It was just a preview of what was coming.

A selective hitter with massive power, Thomas led the American League with 138 walks, a .453 on-base percentage and a 1.006 OPS in his first full season in 1991, finishing third in the MVP voting. The following year, he was the AL leader in doubles (46), walks (122), OBP (.439) and OPS (.975).

The explosion came in 1993, when he belted a then-career-best 41 homers with 128 RBI while leading the White Sox to the AL West title, earning MVP honors in the process. In 1994, he had Chicago in position to make another playoff run before the strike wiped out the end of the season.

He drew 109 walks in 113 games, led the AL in OBP, slugging and OPS and became the first two-time MVP winner in franchise history. Thomas won a batting title in 1997, hitting .347, while finishing third in the MVP race and he had a runner-up finish in the MVP balloting in 2000, when he posted career-highs with 43 homers and 143 RBI while leading the Sox to a division crown.

But he missed almost all of the 2001 season with a torn muscle in his right arm and a broken foot derailed both his 2004 and 2005 seasons. Thomas was not on the postseason roster when the White Sox won the 2005 World Series.

He became a free agent after the season and played three more years with the Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays and Athletics again before retiring after the 2008 season.

With Chicago, he holds the franchise’s all-time record in nearly every offensive category, including 448 home runs and 1,465 RBI. In 16 years with the White Sox, split almost evenly between first base (971 games) and designated hitter (959 games), he hit .307 with a .995 OPS.

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Thomas was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2014.