Frank Thomas

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

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USA TODAY

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again.

The Worldwide Leader in Sports has made a habit of failing to remember the South Siders in recent years, most notably forgetting (on multiple occasions) that the White Sox did in fact win the 2005 World Series.

It happened enough times that A.J. Pierzynski had some opinions about it.

This time, the omission came in an effort to illustrate how good Mike Trout is, with ESPN researcher Paul Hembekides listing baseball players who appeared in the top four in MVP voting three or more times. Trout, the Los Angeles Angels superstar, has already done it seven times, and boy that is terrific.

But Hembekides left someone out. And that someone let him hear about it.

You tell 'em, Frank.

Yes, the Big Hurt finished in the top four of the AL MVP vote on six separate occasions: 1991 (third), 1993 (first), 1994 (first), 1997 (third), 2000 (second) and 2006 (fourth, while playing for the Oakland Athletics).

ESPN's blind spot for the White Sox doesn't end up meaning much of anything, though it's amusing that they've now managed to leave out a relatively recent World Series champion and a relatively recent first-ballot Hall of Famer.

We all make mistakes. But it's a little funny that ESPN's are, repeatedly, White Sox related.

These four legends make up the White Sox Mount Rushmore

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USA TODAY

These four legends make up the White Sox Mount Rushmore

Who is the Greatest of All Time? Inspired by Sunday Night Football's promo featuring Bulls legend Michael Jordan, we've put together a Mount Rushmore of the greatest players in the history of all five of Chicago's teams. These are Chicago's GOATs.

Crafting a White Sox Mount Rushmore is no easy task. With more than 100 years of history, it's tough to narrow the field down to four. In this case, the franchise leader in games played, Luke Appling, was left off the list, as were fan favorites Nellie Fox and Harold Baines. Also left off was perhaps the most dominant pitcher in franchise history: Chris Sale. Regardless, here are the four players we deem most worthy of the honors. Let's get out our chisels and get to work.

Ed Walsh

A legendary Deadball Era hurler, Walsh posted a 1.82 career ERA which remains the best in major league history. His prized pitch was his devastating spitball, which was legal at the time. He helped pitch the 1906 Hitless Wonder White Sox to a World Series title over the heavily favored Cubs. Walsh's 1908 season is the stuff of legend. He won 40 games — something nobody has done since — while logging an unfathomable 464 innings. His 269 strikeouts stood as a White Sox record until Sale topped it in 2015. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1946.

Minnie Miñoso

Known as the "Cuban Comet," as well as "Mr. White Sox," Miñoso in 1951 became the first black player in White Sox history and was a trailblazer for black Latinos in Major League Baseball. He was a dynamic performer, combining power, speed and plate discipline with excellent defense in the outfield. He had seven All-Star seasons, six of them with White Sox, and won three Gold Gloves, two of them with White Sox (the award was introduced in 1957, midway through his major league career). Minnie played big league baseball in five decades, including cameo appearances with the White Sox in 1976 — he had a hit at age 50 — and 1980. Miñoso's No. 9 was retired by the White Sox in 1983, and he remained a team ambassador until his death in 2015.

Frank Thomas

Thomas was the Big Hurt, one of the greatest right-handed hitters in major league history. He hit 521 career home runs, including 448 with the White Sox, a franchise record. He is the only player in White Sox history to win multiple MVP awards (in 1993 and 1994). His .419 career on-base percentage is the highest by any living right-handed hitter with at least 3,000 career plate appearances. He had nine seasons of at least 100 runs, 100 RBIs and 100 walks, topped only by Barry Bonds (10), Lou Gehrig (11) and Babe Ruth (11). The White Sox retired his No. 35 in 2010, and he was part of the Hall of Fame's Class of 2014.

Mark Buehrle

From 38th-round draft pick to World Series champion, Buehrle continually defied the odds. A model of consistency, Buehrle logged 14 straight seasons of at least 200 innings (the first 11 with the White Sox). Despite rarely topping 90 miles an hour, he managed to throw two no-hitters, including a perfect game. Part of the celebrated 2005 White Sox rotation, Buehrle tossed a complete game in the ALCS, then made a start and earned a save in the World Series against the Astros. Buehrle had 214 career wins, 161 with the White Sox, and in 2017 his No. 56 was retired on the South Side.

When They Were Prospects: Frank Thomas

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USA TODAY

When They Were Prospects: Frank Thomas

With such a strong focus on current White Sox prospects, we thought it’d be fun to take a look back at statistics and scouting reports of other South Side stars on their journey to the MLB. Our Chris Kamka dug deep into the numbers.

If the 1989 MLB Draft could be done over again, Frank Thomas would’ve gone first overall. 

And he would’ve been a Baltimore Oriole.

Luckily for the White Sox and all their fans, Thomas was selected 7th overall. The hulking first baseman dominated the SEC, hitting .382/.514/.725 in three seasons for Auburn, with 49 home runs in 178 games. Baseball America’s 1989 pre-draft take on Thomas cut right to the point.

"If it's power a team is looking for with an early first-round pick, then Auburn's 6-foot-5, 250-pound 1B Frank Thomas is the man. He's the top power prospect in the draft and shouldn't last past the first 12 or 13 picks."

His power wasn’t questioned by scouts. Although whether he’d be able to hit for average was another story. From a May 1989 scouting report:

"One excellent tool and fair in the field -- .250 hitter tops if that but will hit HR's 20 on bad year if he gets 500 AB's...”

All in all, Baseball America had Thomas pegged as the 29th ranked prospect in its pre-1990 top 100 list (though he was 3rd among White Sox.  Robin Ventura was 15th and Wilson Alvarez was 26th). He started the year in Birmingham, where in 109 games he walked 112 times (with only 74 strikeouts), hitting .323/.487/.581 with 18 home runs. There was no doubt he was ready. Once he reached the Majors in August, he picked up where he left off, hitting .330/.454/.529 in 60 games for the White Sox.

His first seven seasons were the stuff of legend. Twenty-plus home runs, 100+ runs, 100+ RBI, 100+ walks & .300 BA in all seven. He was arguably the most prolific Major League hitter since Ted Williams.  He won the 1993 & 1994 AL MVP awards, led the AL in OBP four times and won the 1997 batting title.  He finished his White Sox career in 2005 with a World Series title, though injuries prevented him from playing in the postseason. His 448 home runs remain a White Sox record. Quite clearly, he is the greatest hitter in franchise history.

The Big Hurt (a nickname bestowed upon him by Hawk Harrelson) finished his Major League career with 521 home runs with a career slashline of .301/.419/.555.  Only six players in MLB history have had 500+ HR with .300/.400/.500. The other five are Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Mel Ott & Manny Ramírez.  The White Sox retired Big Frank’s #35 in 2010, and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014.