This is the third article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the Chicago White Sox. In this installment are second basemen and shortstops.
The White Sox have seen several second basemen and shortstops who have bucked the trend of the “light-hitting middle infielder.” The team has had four of its middle infielders get inducted into the Hall of Fame and all of them rank high in team history in several statistical categories.
The Best Middle Infielders in Chicago White Sox History
Honorary Mentions – Don Kolloway was in Chicago for eight seasons (1940-43 and 45-49) while the team worked its way back into contention. In 1942, “Butch” hit .273 with 60 runs batted in while posting career highs with 72 runs scored, 164 hits, 40 doubles (which also led the American League), and 16 stolen bases. Despite missing two years during World War II, Kolloway totaled 708 hits and 246 RBIs in 683 games.
Gordon Beckham started his career at third base for a year before moving to his more customary position. His best season was 2012 when he drove in 60 runs and set career highs with 62 runs, 123 hits, and 16 home runs. Beckham was a great fielder, posting a .985 fielding percentage in seven seasons with the White Sox (2009-14 and ’15) and also earning the Wilson Defensive Player Award at second base in 2013. In 839 games, he had 681 hits, 67 homers, and 296 RBIs.
5. Minter “Jackie” Hayes – He spent nine years with the White Sox (1932-40) and helped the team achieve a winning record in his final four seasons. Hayes’s best year was 1933 when he reached career highs with 65 runs and 138 hits to go along with 47 runs batted in. A solid fielder, he had 820 hits, 384 RBIs, and a .264 average in 809 games.
4. Jorge Orta – He was a solid hitter and fielder with Chicago for eight seasons (1972-79). Orta was an All-Star in 1975 when he hit .304 with 165 hits, 26 doubles, 10 triples, 11 home runs, and 83 runs batted in. Overall, he batted .281 and had 442 runs, 1,002 hits, 79 homers, and 456 RBIs in 990 games. After leaving the White Sox, he went to the Royals and was part of the team’s run to the championship in 1985.
3. Ray Durham – The two-time All-Star was a solid fielder who had 150 or more hits six times, scored more than 100 runs and had 20 or more doubles five times apiece, and stole more than 30 bases four times in eight seasons with Chicago (1995-2002). Durham ranks fifth in team history in stolen bases (219) and ninth in both runs (784) and doubles (249). In addition, he has 1,246 hits, 53 triples, 106 home runs, 484 RBIs, and a .278 average in 1,146 games.
2. Eddie Collins – He started and ended his 25-year career with the Philadelphia Athletics, but he had a 12-year run with the White Sox in the middle (1915-26). Collins was the reigning MVP when he was purchased by Chicago for $50,000, and he soon showed he was well worth the investment. Despite missing half of the 1918 season due to service with the Marine Corps during World War I, Collins was essential to the team’s success. In the 1917 World Series victory, he had nine hits, four runs scored, two runs batted in and three stolen bases.
Two years later, amidst the “Black Sox” Scandal, he had seven hits and scored two runs. However, the White Sox locker room was split between those in favor of Charles Comiskey’s ownership (which Collins, as team captain, was seen as their leader) and those who were against his penny-pinching ways (most notably, first baseman Chick Gandil). Even after the scandal took effect, Collins proved to be a stellar player. In 1920, he scored 117 runs, and added 13 triples and 76 RBIs while setting career highs with a .372 average, 38 doubles, and 224 hits, which is also a team record.
A six-time fielding champion, Collins recorded his 3,000th hit in 1925, becoming the sixth player in Major League history to reach the mark. He hit .300 or better ten times, had nine seasons with at least 80 runs scored and 150 hits, eight with at least 20 doubles and six with double-digit triples and at least 40 stolen bases (he led the league three times).
Nicknamed “Cocky” for his Ivy League education and overabundance of self-confidence, Collins is the all-time franchise leader with 360 stolen bases, and he ranks second in batting average (.331), tied for third in triples (102), fifth in hits (2,007) and runs (1,065), sixth in total bases (2,570), seventh in doubles (266) and RBIs (803) and tied for seventh in games played (1,670). He is also the all-time Major League leader with 512 sacrifice bunts. Collins was released and went back to the A’s in 1927 and spent his final four seasons with Philadelphia. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.
1. Nellie Fox – After being traded by the Athletics to the White Sox, he become one of the best fielders of his (or any) era, winning three gold gloves in 14 seasons (1950-63). Fox finished in the top ten of the MVP voting six times and was named MVP in 1959 after posting 84 runs, 191 hits, 34 doubles, 70 RBIs, and a .306 average to beat out teammates Luis Aparicio and Early Wynn for the award. “Mighty Mite” had 12 straight seasons with at least 160 hits (and was a four-time league leader), had 20 or more doubles 11 times, at least 80 runs scored nine times, and hit over .300 in six seasons.
Fox was a 15-time All-Star (three times, he went twice in a season when the MLB had two games), and he had nine hits, four runs scored, and three runs batted in during the 1959 World Series. He hit .291 during his White Sox tenure, and he ranks second in hits (2,470), tied for second in triples (104), third in games (2,115) and runs (1,187), fourth in doubles (335) and tenth in RBIs (740). Fox was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1997.
Honorable Mentions – George “Buck” Weaver started his career with four seasons as a shortstop and played a fifth at the position in 1918. He had 672 hits, 201 RBIs and 91 stolen bases in 694 games at shortstop, but he was suspended for life in 1920 as part of the “Black Sox” Scandal.
George Davis was a star with the New York Giants in the 1890s before jumping to the American League. He played with Chicago in 1902 and 1904-09, with a four-game stint with New York mixed in thanks to some legal back-and-forth between the two teams. Davis had 15 triples, 69 RBIs, and 32 stolen bases in 1904, and he drove in 80 runs two years later, his best total with Chicago. He had 785 hits, 377 runs batted in, and 162 steals in 856 games Davis had four hits, three doubles, four runs scored and six RBIs in the 1906 World Series. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1998.
Current starter Tim Anderson has earned two All-Star selections and the 2020 silver slugger award during his eight seasons with the White Sox (2016-present). He led the league with a .335 average in 2019 and 45 runs in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, but his best year was 2021, when he was an All-Star after hitting .309 with a career-best 94 runs to go along with 163 hits, 17 home runs and 61 runs batted in. So far, Anderson has batted .283 with 514 runs, 988 hits, 173 doubles, 98 home runs, 334 RBIs, and 115 stolen bases in 863 games. However, his detractors will note his attitude issues and temper as strikes against him.
5. Alexei Ramirez – Before Anderson, there was Ramirez, who began his career as a second baseman before moving one spot to his right. He hit .290 with 21 home runs and a career-best 77 runs batted in to win Rookie of the Year in 2008. Ramirez earned his only All-Star selection in 2014 when he hit .273 with 82 runs, 170 hits, 35 doubles, 15 homers, 74 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases. He was also a two-time silver slugger and a Wilson Defensive Player Award winner in 2012. Over eight seasons (2008-15), Ramirez had 563 runs, 1,272 hits, 227 doubles, 104 home runs, 542 RBIs, and 135 stolen bases in 1,226 games. He went 3-for-12 with two RBIs in a loss to the Rays in the 2008 Division Series.
4. Alfonso “Chico” Carrasquel – He was a four-time All-Star (and the first Latin-born player to appear in an All-Star Game) who also won three fielding titles in six seasons with the White Sox (1950-55). Carrasquel’s best season was 1954 when he set career highs with 106 runs, 158 hits, 12 home runs, and 62 runs batted in. Overall, he hit .265 with 410 runs, 825 hits, and 307 RBIs in 837 games.
3. Ozzie Guillen – Before he led the team to the 2005 World Series championship as a manager, he spent 13 years with the White Sox as a player (1985-97). Guillen was a three-time All-Star and a 1990 gold glove winner who began his career by winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1985. In the 1993 ALCS, he had six hits, four runs, and two RBIs in a loss to the eventual-champion Blue Jays. Guillen hit .265 with 693 runs, 240 doubles 565 RBIs, and 163 stolen bases in his Chicago tenure. He ranks sixth in games played (1,743), seventh in hits (1,608), and tenth in total bases (2,056) and triples (68).
2. Luis Aparicio – He won the Rookie of the Year award in 1956 after hitting .266 with 56 runs batted in and a league-leading 21 stolen bases. “Little Louie” was an eight-time All-Star and a seven-time gold glove winner who led the American League in steals each of his first seven seasons, had 150 or more hits six times, and scored at least 80 runs five times.
Aparicio finished second in the MVP voting in 1959 after totaling 157 hits and 51 RBIs and setting career highs with 98 runs and 56 stolen bases. He had eight hits, a run scored, and a stolen base in the World Series loss to the Dodgers. In 10 seasons (1956-62 and 68-70), Aparicio hit .269 with 223 doubles, 54 triples, and 464 RBIs. He ranks second in franchise history in stolen bases (318), seventh in runs (791), eighth in hits (1,576), and ninth in games played (1,511). Aparicio became the first player from Venezuela to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984.
1. Luke Appling – He was nicknamed “Old Aches and Pains” due to his penchant for complaining, usually to excuse his average defense. However, he was the club’s best offensive weapon for two decades and, despite missing the 1944 season due to World War II, he still put together a 20-year career with the White Sox (1930-50). The seven-time All-Star and two-time batting champion hit better than .300 an astounding 16 times. He also had 13 seasons with at least 20 doubles, 11 with 150 or more hits and eight with at least 80 runs scored.
Appling finished second to Lou Gehrig in the American League MVP race in 1936 when he set career highs with 111 runs, 204 hits, 128 runs batted in, and a .388 average, a mark that also led the league and is a team record. He is the all-time franchise leader in games played (2,422) and hits (2,749), and he ranks second in runs (1,319) and doubles (440), third in RBIs (1,116), tied for third in triples (102), eighth in stolen bases (179) and tied for eighth in batting average (.310). Appling was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964.
Chicago White Sox Catchers and Managers
Chicago White Sox First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Chicago White Sox Outfielders – coming soon
Chicago White Sox Pitchers – coming soon
A look back at the Chicago Cubs
A look back at the Boston Red Sox
A look back at the Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles Catchers and Managers
Baltimore Orioles First and Third Basemen
Baltimore Orioles Second Basemen and Shortstops
Baltimore Orioles Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Baltimore Orioles Pitchers
A look back at the Atlanta Braves
A look back at the Arizona Diamondbacks