Jon Garland

White Sox 2005 Rewind: 7 nominees for South Side’s regular-season MVP

White Sox 2005 Rewind: 7 nominees for South Side’s regular-season MVP

You don’t win 99 games without a team effort. You don’t win a World Series championship without getting contributions from all over the roster.

But the 2005 White Sox are perhaps uniquely remembered as a unit, a group. Certainly that statue out front at Guaranteed Rate Field reinforces that memory, honoring the moments that fueled that championship run: unforgettable snapshots from Paul Konerko, Scott Podsednik, A.J. Pierzynski, Orlando Hernandez, Juan Uribe, Joe Crede, Jermaine Dye, Mark Buehrle. The list goes on and on.

As much as those postseason moments stick out, though, there were 162 regular-season games the White Sox soared through en route to October baseball and the title that ended an 88-year drought.

So with #SoxRewind’s regular-season stint winding down as we prepare for 11 playoff victories beginning Saturday night, how about a fun little debate: Who was the White Sox regular-season MVP in 2005?

Rather than just start shouting names at each other, let’s go through a list of nominees.

Paul Konerko. The obvious front runner, considering he put up the best offensive numbers of the campaign. He finished the regular season with 40 home runs, 100 RBIs, 81 walks, a .375 on-base percentage, a .534 slugging percentage and a .909 OPS, leading in the team in every one of those categories. Konerko helped prevent the White Sox from completely collapsing late in the season, too, putting up a 1.003 OPS after the All-Star break.

Mark Buehrle. The ace of the South Side staff, Buehrle led the rotation with a 3.12 ERA in 236.2 innings pitched. He ended up finishing fifth in the AL Cy Young vote, though he probably should have finished higher. Buehrle set the bar for longevity in a staff that specialized in staying in ballgames, with 10 of his 33 starts lasting at least eight innings. His 40 walks were the fewest in the rotation, and only eight qualified starters in baseball walked fewer hitters that season.

Scott Podsednik. Obviously, the power numbers weren’t there — his zero regular-season home runs made his walk-off homer in the World Series all the more incredible — but he supplied a base-stealing ability rarely seen in franchise history. His 59 swiped bags in 2005 still rank as the third highest single-season total the club’s ever had. Kenny Williams swapping Carlos Lee for Podsednik in the offseason provided the White Sox lineup with the balance that allowed the team to score so many early inning runs and win so many games.

Jose Contreras. Was he the best pitcher in the rotation in 2005? No. Buehrle was better. Jon Garland was better, too. But Contreras gets a nomination here for his clutch efforts down the stretch, effectively putting the team on his back and saving the season as the Indians made a furious late-season charge. As the White Sox division lead evaporated in August and September, Contreras played stopper to prevent a complete free fall out of first place, winning each of his final eight regular-season starts with a 2.09 ERA over that stretch. His efforts down the stretch led Ozzie Guillen to start Contreras in Game 1 of all three playoff series.

RELATED: White Sox 2005 Rewind: Jose Contreras went 'ace mode' to save the season

Jermaine Dye. The eventual World Series MVP, Dye took a while to get going in his first season with the White Sox, but he took off, finishing second on the team with 31 homers, 29 doubles a .512 slugging percentage and an .846 OPS.

Jon Garland. Just as Dye played Robin to Konerko’s Batman on the offensive side of things, Garland was the Bucky to Buehrle’s Cap in the rotation. His 221 innings, 47 walks and 3.50 ERA didn’t lag too far behind Buehrle’s totals, and he, too, finished in the top 10 in the AL Cy Young vote. While Contreras shone down the stretch, Garland was the star of the early part of the season, winning each of his first eight starts, 12 of his first 14 and 15 of his first 19.

Dustin Hermanson. He didn’t start the season as Guillen’s closer, and he didn’t finish the season as Guillen’s closer, either. But he deserves a ton of credit for stepping up and locking down the ninth inning for the bulk of the campaign. Folks will perhaps more easily remember Bobby Jenks, who served as closer during the postseason, but Hermanson led the team with 34 saves and posted a 2.04 ERA as part of an excellent bullpen. He went two months and had already racked up 11 saves before he gave up a run in 2005 and blew just one save in the season’s first four and a half months.

Considering that all these guys and so many more played big roles in bringing a championship to the South Side, there’s no wrong answer. Perhaps you’ve got a nominee that’s not even on this list.

But let’s hear it: Who gets your vote for the 2005 White Sox regular-season MVP?

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White Sox 2005 Rewind: With starters like these, who needed a bullpen?

White Sox 2005 Rewind: With starters like these, who needed a bullpen?

No offense to the White Sox bullpen, which was really, really good in 2005. But with starters like these, who needed relievers?

The White Sox famously didn’t in the ALCS, when Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia and Jose Contreras threw four straight complete games, a jaw-dropping feat, especially by today’s standards. And earlier during #SoxRewind, we saw a foreshadowing of that dominance during a four-game series in Cleveland.

Well, with the White Sox skidding in August, the starting rotation stepped in and put the team on its shoulders, the same thing it would do two months later to fuel a World Series win.

An explosive performance by the White Sox offense was the highlight of that slump-busting victory against Randy Johnson and the Yankees. But on the other side of the ball, Contreras went eight innings and allowed just one earned run.

Garcia took the baton next and started a three-game set with the Twins in Minneapolis with a sensational performance, taking a no-hit bid into the eighth before losing it — and the game — on a solo homer. But eight one-hit, one-run innings were plenty for the starting pitchers to keep feeding off one another.

Buehrle was next, and he did the same thing to the rival Twins that Garcia did the night before, limiting them to one run on a solo homer over eight innings of work. That set up Garland for his own terrific outing, and though he came one out shy of making it four consecutive eight-inning efforts, he gave up no runs while he was in the game.

Orlando Hernandez kept things moving with his own eight-inning outing, allowing three runs but still getting that quality start. Contreras went seven more innings in the following game and allowed only three runs in the White Sox fourth straight win before the fun ended when Garcia got roughed up by his former team.

All told, White Sox starting pitchers posted a 1.74 ERA in 46.2 innings over that six-game stretch.

As alluded to above, the game we watch just 15 years later is so much more reliant on bullpens as managers mix and match for the best possible matchups. Back in 2005, Ozzie Guillen could just send his starters out there to chuck. And it worked.

The team wasn’t out of its August doldrums quite yet. Following these five wins in six games, the White Sox closed out the month with four losses in their last five contests before turning the calendar to September, when things straightened back out long enough for them to hold off the hard-charging Indians.

But this string of superb starts stopped the bleeding from that mid-August losing streak and got things, mostly, back on track.

What else?

— Darrin Jackson kept throwing the nickname “The Chauffeur” around in reference to Carl Everett. Because he drives in runs? Get it? Well, he lived up to that title in this Aug. 24 win over the Twins. He smashed a ball into extinction for a two-run homer in the first inning.

And he followed with another two-run hit, this one a single, to make it a four-run White Sox lead in the fifth.

The four-RBIs were a season high. Everett finished the regular season with 87 RBIs, ranking second on the team only to the 100 of Paul Konerko.

— How about this excellent throw from Jermaine Dye? Perhaps not as dramatic with a six-run lead, but still some fine defense from the right fielder.

Since you been gone

While #SoxRewind is extensive, it doesn’t include all 162 regular-season contests, meaning we’re going to be skipping over some games. So what’d we miss since last time?

Aug. 23, 2005: Garcia was sensational, taking a no-hit bid into the eighth and losing it on the Twins’ only hit of the game: a solo homer off the bat of Jacque Jones. But that was enough, with Johan Santana delivering an equally excellent performance for the Twins, surrendering just three hits in his eight shutout innings before turning it over to Joe Nathan for the save. White Sox lose, 1-0, fall to 75-47.

Next up

#SoxRewind rolls on Wednesday, when you can catch the Aug. 25, 2005, game against the Twins, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Jon Garland extends the White Sox streak of terrific starting-pitching performances, but it’s Dustin Hermanson who grabs headlines in this one.

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White Sox 2005 Rewind: An ALCS pitching preview one weekend in Cleveland

White Sox 2005 Rewind: An ALCS pitching preview one weekend in Cleveland

How did the White Sox win the 2005 World Series?

The same way they swept the division-rival Cleveland Indians in mid July.

The South Siders broke their decades-long championship drought on the backs of their starting pitchers, with the quartet of Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Jose Contreras and Freddy Garcia shouldering the load in the postseason’s biggest moments. They did it throughout the regular season, too, of course, tying for the lowest rotation ERA in the American League.

No string of starts was more impactful than the four consecutive complete games those four starters threw in the ALCS. And while this four-day weekend set in Cleveland was hardly as important — nor did it feature a single complete-game effort — it was an example of how dominating that rotation was and would be as the White Sox marched all the way to the World Series.

The South Siders came into this mid-July series up 10 games on the Tribe in the win column. By season’s end, of course, the Indians made a late push and nearly caught the White Sox. Ozzie Guillen’s club ended up just six games in front of Eric Wedge’s team by the end of the regular season, these four head-to-head wins providing what ended up being a needed cushion.

Contreras dueled with Kevin Millwood in the series opener July 14, tossing seven shutout innings and allowing just three hits. Frank Thomas’ first-inning RBI double was the only damage the White Sox could do against Millwood, but thanks to Contreras, that was all that was necessary.

Garcia followed with seven innings of one-run ball in the second game. The White Sox bats were plenty active this time around, but that didn’t mean Garcia, who pitched so well on the road in 2005, let up in any way.

After tagging the Indians for seven runs in the second game, the White Sox did it again in the Saturday tilt. Mark Buehrle was his typically excellent self, allowing just two runs on three hits in his seven innings. Three Cleveland runs off Shingo Takatsu in the ninth made things more interesting than they needed to be, but the quality of the starting pitching didn’t at all wane with Buehrle’s turn through the rotation.

Then came Jon Garland to polish off the Indians in the finale. Despite scattering seven hits, he logged six shutout innings as the White Sox blanked their hosts for the second time in four days.

All told, the White Sox top four starters posted an ERA of 1.00 over that long weekend. While they chewed up significantly more innings during the four-game winning streak against the Los Angeles Angels in the ALCS, the rotation’s ERA was actually higher: a 2.00 ERA over those 36 innings.

The competition was better, the stage was bigger, the stakes were higher and the pitch counts were greater during the series that produced a pennant months later. But this rivalry weekend on the shores of Lake Erie was undoubtedly a preview of the kind of dominant streak this rotation was capable of.

What else?

— The series finale wasn’t quite the high-scoring affair each of the previous two seven-run outputs were for the White Sox offense, but they knocked a couple balls out of the park. A.J. Pierzynski crushed two-run homer to center field in the second inning, and Tadahito Iguchi followed with a mashed solo shot in the third. Those two hits accounted for 75 percent of the White Sox runs and, with Garland dealing, were enough to produce a fourth straight victory.

Since you been gone

While #SoxRewind is extensive, it doesn’t include all 162 regular-season contests, meaning we’re going to be skipping over some games. So what’d we miss since last time?

July 16, 2005: Buehrle was strong and the White Sox tagged Indians pitching for seven runs, but things were made unnecessarily interesting when Takatsu surrendered three runs in the ninth inning. It proved to be the end of Shingo Time, his final game with the White Sox. White Sox win, 7-5, improve to 60-29.

Next up

#SoxRewind rolls on Tuesday, when you can catch the July 22, 2005, game against the Red Sox, starting at 3:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. The ‘05 champs play hosts to the ‘04 champs, getting a pair of three-run homers in a huge sixth inning.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.