The Chicago White Sox franchise was officially established in 1888. In over 130 years as a professional baseball team, Chicago has seen its fair share of historic players and moments. Their list of all-time greatest players is also riddled with classic names from the early 1900s. The “South Siders” have won three World Series championships (1906, 1917, and 2005) and six AL pennants. Let’s take at look at their top five players in franchise history according to the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) statistic.
(Note: These rankings are based solely on each players WAR during their career with the White Sox. All WAR statistics are from Baseball Reference. The batting statistics can be accessed here and the pitching information can be found here.)
5) Eddie Collins: 1915-1926 (Career White Sox WAR: 66.7)
- Career Stats (25 years): 9,949 at bats, 1,821 runs, 47 home runs, 1,299 RBI, 741 stolen bases, .333 BA
- White Sox Stats (13 years): 6,065 at bats, 1,065 runs, 31 home runs, 803 RBI, 368 stolen bases, .331 BA
Despite playing over half of his career outside Chicago, Collins still ranks as a top-five White Sox player. The second baseman had a very high average and was a terror on the base paths. His 368 stolen bases still stand as a franchise record. Collins also holds the all-time MLB record with 512 sacrifice hits. The former AL MVP (1914) led the White Sox to two World Series, winning the first in 1917. He won a total of six World Championships during his career. Collins also furthered his Chicago career by adding 174 wins as a manager/player from 1924-1926.
4) Ted Lyons: 1923-1946 (Career White Sox WAR: 67.6)
- Career Stats (21 years): 484 games started, 260 wins, 3.67 ERA, 1,073 strikeouts
- White Sox Stats (21 years): Lyons played his entire career with the White Sox. (He missed the 1943-1945 seasons due to military service)
Lyons still holds White Sox records in wins, innings pitched, and games started. Though he was unable to make the postseason in his career, Lyons is still considered to be an all-time Chicago great. He also holds the unique distinction of being the only Hall of Fame pitcher to record more walks than strikeouts. Like Collins, Lyons was able to continue his White Sox career after his retirement by managing the team for a brief stint from 1946-1948.
3) Red Faber: 1914-1933 (Career White Sox WAR: 68.5)
- Career Stats (20 years): 483 games started, 254 wins, 3.15 ERA, 1,471 strikeouts
- White Sox Stats (20 years): Faber played his entire career with the White Sox.
Faber held the role of ace during the White Sox 1917 championship run. In his only opportunity to pitch in the playoffs, Faber recorded three wins and posted a 2.33 ERA. He is the team’s all-time leader in games pitched and was the last legal spitballer to appear in the American League.
2) Frank Thomas: 1990-2005 (Career White Sox WAR: 68.3)
- Career Stats (19 years): 8,199 at bats, 1,494 runs, 521 home runs, 1,704 RBI, 32 stolen bases, .301 BA
- White Sox Stats (16 years): 6,956 at bats, 1,327 runs, 448 home runs, 1,465 RBI, 32 stolen bases, .307 BA
Frank Thomas is the lone player from the modern-era to earn a spot on this list. The five-time All-Star and back-to-back AL MVP (1993-1994) was one of the most feared power hitters of hi generation. He holds the team record in home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, doubles, RBI, and walks. The “Big Hurt” recorded four postseason appearances, advancing to the ALCS twice. Had he finished his career in Chicago, he may very well have secured the top spot on this list.
1) Luke Appling: 1930-1950 (Career White Sox WAR: 74.4)
- Career Stats (20 Years): 10,254 at bats, 1,319 runs, 45 home runs, 1,116 RBI, 179 stolen bases, .310 BA
- White Sox Stats (20 years): Appling played his entire career with the White Sox. (He missed the 1944 season due to military service)
Appling’s Chicago career is defined by greatest and longevity. The seven-time All-Star is the franchise record holder in games played, at bats, hits, and singles. The shortstop’s only blemish is his lack of postseason success. Despite playing for two decades, Appling’s entire career occurred in the middle of a 39 year postseason drought for the White Sox.