White Sox

60 facts for Harold Baines' 60th Birthday

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USA TODAY

60 facts for Harold Baines' 60th Birthday

Happy birthday to 2019 Hall of Famer Harold Baines!

Here are 60 facts about the White Sox legend to commemorate the occasion.

1. Baines was originally discovered by White Sox then-owner Bill Veeck as a 12-year old little leaguer in Maryland

2. Baines was drafted first overall in the 1977 MLB Draft. He's one of two first overall picks in White Sox history. The other was Danny Goodwin in 1971, who did not sign after being drafted by the Sox but signed after the Angels drafted him first overall in 1975.

3. Baines, the first overall pick in 1977 was teammates with the first overall pick in:

1974 Bill Almon (drafted by the Padres, teammates with White Sox)

1976 Floyd Bannister (drafted by the Astros, teammates with White Sox)

1981 Mike Moore (drafted by Mariners, teammates with A's)

1985 B.J. Surhoff (drafted by the Brewers, teammates with Orioles)

1989 Ben McDonald (drafted by the Orioles, teammates with Orioles)

4. Baines is one of three No. 1 overall picks in the Hall of Fame, along with Ken Griffey Jr (1987) and Chipper Jones (1990)

5. Baines made his MLB Debut in the White Sox 1980 season opener against the Orioles at Comiskey Park. His first career plate appearance was against Hall of Famer Jim Palmer.

6. Baines led the AL in slugging percentage in 1984 (.541)

7. Baines holds the MLB record for latest walk-off home run (inning-wise) - 25th inning on May 9, 1984, in the conclusion of a game started the day before. It was the 753rd pitch of the game.

8. Three of Baines' first eight career MLB home runs were off future Hall of Famers. Jim Palmer (first), Gaylord Perry (sixth), Fergie Jenkins (eighth).

9. Baines had 113 RBIs in 1985 and 103 RBI in 1999. In between, from 1986-1998, 128 different players had at least 100-RBI season, but not Baines.

10. Baines appeared in a starting lineup with these starting pitchers on the mound as teammates: Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Mike Mussina, Dwight Gooden, Fernando Valenzuela, Bartolo Colón and Mark Buehrle.

11. He hit a walk-off sacrifice fly off the Mariners' Ed Vande Berg to clinch AL West Sept. 17, 1983

12. Was starting DH, hitting fifth for Rangers June 11, 1990 - Nolan Ryan's sixth no-hitter.

13. Hit sixth in the order for the Orioles, behind Cal Ripken on Sept. 6, 1995 - the day Ripken played in his 2,131st consecutive game, breaking the MLB record.

14. Baines is the only player in White Sox history to hit three home runs in a game twice. July 7, 1982 and Sept. 17, 1984. He also hit three home runs in a game for the A's on May 7, 1991

15. Baines is the only player in MLB history with a 100-RBI season prior to his age 25 season AND in his age 40 (or older) season (age season defined as player's age on June 30).

16. Baines was hit by a pitch 14 times in his 2,830 game MLB career. In 2018, 13 players had 14 or more HBP, including new Sox outfielder Jon Jay (who shares the same March 15 birthday with Baines), who had 18.

17. Eight players hit two home runs in a game off Nolan Ryan:

Dick Allen, Jim Wynn, John Briggs, Graig Nettles, John Mayberry, Duane Walker, Mike Greenwell and Harold Baines, who did it June 8, 1989.

18. Baines posted a solid .272/.350/.450 slashline with 36 home runs in 263 games after his 40th birthday.

19. The White Sox retired Baines' No. 3 on Aug. 20, 1989. He was only 30 years, 158 days old. He played 1,432 games (and an additional 27 in the postseason) after having his number retired by the White Sox.

Some of the number retirement dates vary and I had to use my best judgement to determine the most accurate dates, but here's a fun list:

Most games played by a player after having his number retired and team to retire number:

-1,432 Harold Baines - White Sox

-1,206 Eddie Murray** - Orioles

**Several sources note that Murray's jersey retirement was in 1998, though I believe it was originally done by the Orioles shortly after the deal to the Dodgers. For this list, I credit the date as prior to the 1989 season. A great resource is here, which notes the date as March 2, 1989.

A Chicago Tribune spring training report the next day mentions that "Eddie Murray's No. 33 will be retired by the Orioles sometime this season, the team announced."

-479 Frank Robinson - Orioles (number later retired by Reds and Indians)

-147 Robin Roberts- Phillies

20. Baines had 2,866 career hits, 46th in MLB history. 45th on the list is fellow Maryland native Babe Ruth with 2,873.

21. Baines (2,866 hits) had more in his career than several Hall of Fame outfielders, including Ken Griffey Jr (2,781), Andre Dawson (2,774), Billy Williams (2,711), Ted Williams (2,654) and Reggie Jackson (2,584)

22. Baines' .356 career on-base percentage is better than Ichiro's (.355)

23. Baines' .465 career slugging percentage is better than Cal Ripken's (.447)

24. White Sox put up a statue in Baines' honor on July 20, 2008.

25. Baines is one of only 12 players in MLB history with 20 or more seasons of double-digit home runs. The list: Henry Aaron (23), Carl Yastrzemski (22), Barry Bonds (21), Stan Musial (21), Ken Griffey Jr (20), Cal Ripken Jr (20), Eddie Murray (20), Dave Winfield (20), Reggie Jackson (20), Willie McCovey (20), Al Kaline (20) and Baines (20)

26. Baines' seven seasons with 20+ home runs with White Sox is most in franchise history among lefties and third overall (13 by Paul Konerko, 11 by Frank Thomas)

27. 221 home runs and 981 RBIs are White Sox career records for lefties.

28. Six-time All-Star: 1985-87 and 1989 (representing White Sox), 1991 (representing A's), 1999 (representing Orioles).

29. Had career-long 19-game hitting streak in September 1983.

30. Is the oldest White Sox player with a postseason hit. 2000 ALDS, Game 3 (41 years, 205 days old)

31. Baines' .289 career batting average is better than Eddie Murray (.287) or David Ortiz (.286)

32. His 384 career home runs is 11th all-time among American League lefties

33. Baines hit 15 home runs off Hall of Famers (10 different pitchers - Jim Palmer, Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro, Bert Blyleven, Nolan Ryan, Jack Morris, Dennis Eckersley and Roy Halladay). He hit an additional homer off Jack Morris in the postseason.

34. Faced 17 different Hall of Famers total; had a .276/.331/.431 career line against them (includes postseason)

35. Baines is one of three players in MLB history with 1,000 career starts each as DH and in the field, along with Paul Molitor & Chili Davis

36. Baines is one of four White Sox players with three 20-home run seasons through age 25 season, with Bill Melton, Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko

37. Baines is one of three White Sox players with a 100-RBI season in his age 23-or-younger season. He had 105 RBIs at age 23 in 1982. The others are Frank Thomas (109) and Robin Ventura (100) both at age 23 in 1991

38. Baines is the only player in White Sox history with 25+ home runs and 10+ triples in a season - 29 home runs, 10 triples in 1984

39. He hit more career home runs against the Blue Jays (38) than any other team.

40. In 31 career postseason games, he hit .324/.378/.510 with 5 home runs and 16 RBIs...despite starting his postseason career 0-for-14.

41. Through 2001 (his final season), Baines was the all-time MLB leader in games played at DH (1,643) and home runs as DH (236). He has since been passed in both categories.

42. In his MLB career, Baines faced both Gaylord Perry (born Sept. 15, 1938) and Kyle Lohse (born Oct. 4, 1978). The plate appearance against Lohse was Baines' final MLB plate appearance.

43. Baines is tied for the second most career home runs in the history of Old Comiskey Park (88, tied with Bill Melton), only trailing Carlton Fisk (94).

44. Harold's son, also named Harold, was drafted by the White Sox in the 45th round in 2009.

45. Baines held the White Sox franchise home run record (either tied for or outright) from July 21, 1987 to Aug. 17, 1990, until Carlton Fisk passed him with White Sox home run No. 187.

46. His last career MLB start was as the DH on June 14, 2001 against the Reds. The opposing DH was Deion Sanders.

47. Baines struck out 100+ times in a season only once - 109 in 1988. He struck out 90+ times in a season only twice - 1988 and 1982, when he struck out 95 times.

48. Four players in MLB history have had 40 home run/40 stolen base seasons. Baines isn't one of them. But he did have more career triples (49) than three of the four - Alex Rodriguez (31), Alfonso Soriano (31) and Jose Canseco (14).

49. Baines had more career stolen bases (34) than Joe DiMaggio (30).

50. Baines is seventh all-time in American League history in games played (2,830). Three of the top seven were born in Maryland (Cal Ripken is first, Al Kaline is sixth, Baines is seventh).

51. Baines is sixth all-time among players born in Maryland in home runs - Babe Ruth (714), Jimmie Foxx (534), Cal Ripken (431), Mark Teixeira (409), Al Kaline (399), Baines (384).

52. Baines' most frequent home run victims were Charlie Hough and Todd Stottlemyre (five each).

53. Baines had more career regular season hits (32) against Roger Clemens than any other pitcher.

54. Was White Sox starting rightfielder Oct. 5, 1980 - the game Minnie Miñoso made his last career MLB appearance (he pinch hit). He was later teammates with Frank Thomas (1996-97, 2000-01), and Paul Konerko (2000-01). Baines was teammates with both Minnie Miñoso (born Nov. 29, 1925) and Jon Garland (born Sept. 27, 1979).

55. Every Jan. 9 has been declared "Harold Baines Day" in his hometown of St. Michaels, Md.

56. Was American League Designated Hitter of the Year in 1987 and 1988

57. Baines played for 12 MLB managers. Tony La Russa (with White Sox and A's), Doug Rader (for two games), Jim Fregosi, Jeff Torborg, Bobby Valentine, Johnny Oates, Phil Regan, Terry Bevington, Davey Johnson, Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove (with Indians & Orioles) and Jerry Manuel

58. Baines is 65th in MLB history with his 384 career home runs.

59. Baines' 384 career home runs is second most by a player who never hit 30 in a season (he topped out at 29), behind Al Kaline's 399.

60. Baines was elected to the Hall of Fame on Dec. 9, 2018.

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Yoan Moncada has gone from 'strikeout heaven to impactful bat heaven'

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USA TODAY

Yoan Moncada has gone from 'strikeout heaven to impactful bat heaven'

Yoan Moncada is finishing off a breakout season and he has gotten there with a different approach at the plate.

When Moncada came up through the minors and even in his first two years in the majors, he was known for drawing plenty of walks. At every stop of the minors and in each of his first two seasons with the White Sox, Moncada walked in well north of 10 percent of his plate appearances.

This season, which is inarguably his best in the majors, he has 39 walks in 510 plate appearances. After Moncada added three hits in Sunday’s 11-10 loss to the Mariners, he is now hitting .308/363/.537 with 23 home runs, 72 RBIs and 75 runs scored.

Sunday's 3-for-5 game added to his red-hot September. Moncada is hitting .436/.492/.636 in 14 games this month. He's not the only White Sox hitter on fire this month.

Before the game, White Sox manager Rick Renteria talked about Moncada’s different approach.

“He’s going to be a 30-homer type guy,” Renteria said. “I think his on-base percentage is good. I think people look at the numbers in terms of the base-on-balls, the total numbers that are down, but he’s gone from strikeout heaven to impactful bat heaven, so to speak, and I think there’s going to be a balance in between where he’s going to continue to have those walk numbers, on-base numbers and be a pretty significant impactful player as a third baseman.”

That strikeout heaven Renteria referred to is another big difference for Moncada this year. After striking out in 32 percent of his plate appearances in 54 games with the White Sox in 2017 and whiffing a whopping 217 times last year (33.4 percent), Moncada has cut down on that number. He has 139 strikeouts this year, which is down to 27.2 percent.

So the strikeouts have gone down along with the walks. Moncada’s overall numbers are clearly better so it appears the tradeoff has been worth it.

“I think he’s taking into account more situational type things,” Renteria said. “Instead of taking that borderline pitch that they would call a strike, for example, he might be more inclined to create a productive out and drive in a run and put the ball in play.

"It’s more baseball-oriented, not just numbers wise. It’s a baseball situation in which he is now understanding a little bit more, I have a chance to impact this in a positive way. (If) I don’t swing the bat, it’s a called third strike, I’m walking into the dugout and my guys are still out  there on the bases. I got a pitch I can handle, I can still manage. Put the ball in play, score that run and we score another point, it puts us in a better position. Ultimately it’s about scoring runs.”

Renteria emphasized that he didn’t want Moncada chasing pitches as he tries to be more aggressive. However, going after borderline pitches that are hittable instead of trying to work a walk as one of the most dangerous hitters on the team isn’t always the best approach.

“If you look at his at-bats, he’s not a chaser,” Renteria said. “He doesn’t put balls in play that are a foot (outside), he doesn’t do that. There are balls that are manageable, hittable, things that he can either get a base hit out of or put in play to create a particular run. It’s more situational awareness that he’s become better at, which I think has helped him improved some of his numbers offensively.”

In other Moncada news, he got hit by a throw after stealing a base in the seventh inning .The throw bounced and hit Moncada in the side as he was sliding into second. After being in obvious pain, Moncada stayed on the bases, later came around to score and finished the game.

 

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The biggest pieces of the White Sox rebuild are on absolute fire in September, great news for 2020

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USA TODAY

The biggest pieces of the White Sox rebuild are on absolute fire in September, great news for 2020

“The 2020 season, it starts in September.”

Jose Abreu said that before August was even over, looking toward the final month of yet another losing season, yet another season without a playoff appearance on the South Side. Of course, everyone involved with this organization is hoping that changes in 2020, and with his sights on that campaign, Abreu talked about using the last month of this one to get ready for next year.

Well, if this month is really the first month of what’s next, the guys who figure to play the biggest roles on that 2020 team — in this rebuild, in general — are off to a heck of a start.

Friday night, it was the quartet of Abreu, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez powering a high-scoring win over the Seattle Mariners. The four combined to go 8-for-18 with two home runs, two doubles, a triple, seven RBIs and six runs scored.

It was a nice microcosm of what’s been happening all month.

In the dozen games the White Sox have played in September, Abreu, Anderson, Moncada and Jimenez have combined for a .363 batting average, a .431 on-base percentage, a .687 slugging percentage, 13 home runs, 18 doubles, a triple, 42 RBIs and 40 runs scored. They’ve accounted for more than 58 percent of the runs the team has scored and more than 61 percent of the runs the team has driven in.

Considering Anderson, Moncada and Jimenez are three cornerstones of Rick Hahn’s rebuilding effort and the elder statesman Abreu, with his constant declarations of his desire to remain with the team, seems a safe bet to be back in black for 2020, this is the core of this lineup moving forward playing at an extremely high level.

It’s exactly what the White Sox and their fans want to see.

Anderson is going to be dominating the headlines the rest of the way as he chases a batting title. He woke up Saturday with the best batting average in baseball, a .334 mark for the 2019 season. In September alone, he’s hitting .400.

Moncada has steadily had the best all-around offensive season of anyone on the team, quite the transformation from a year ago, when he struck out 217 times in a disappointing first full campaign as a major leaguer. In September, he’s hitting even better than Anderson, with a .435 batting average to go along with an insane .500 on-base percentage.

Jimenez has had an up-and-down rookie season, but he’s closing in on 30 home runs after smashing No. 27 on Friday night. He’s definitely in the midst of one of his better stretches right now and owns a .694 slugging percentage with five homers in September.

Abreu has been criticized by certain segments of the fan base for the noticeable dip in his on-base percentage this season. Thanks to a hot finish, it is higher than last year’s at the moment, but if the season ended today, it would be lower than the figures he posted during his first four seasons in the big leagues. But what those critics aren’t focusing on is one of the most productive seasons of Abreu’s career. He also homered Friday and is up to 33 bombs on the season, three off the career high he set as a rookie in 2014. And he’s blasted past his career high in RBIs from that same season, up to 116, which leads the American League. He's got five September homers and a .784 slugging percentage on the month.

In a season judged from the outset based on the development and performance of the team’s core players rather than its win-loss record, that’s all spectacular news for the organization moving forward into 2020. Combine all that with the strides made by Lucas Giolito and James McCann, the arrival of Dylan Cease, the expected return of Michael Kopech, the expected arrivals of Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal, plus what’s expected to be an active offseason, and this team is shaping up to have a very promising outlook for 2020.

“I’m expecting that this is it,” manager Rick Renteria said after Thursday’s game, asked if he believed the White Sox string of sub-.500 seasons would end next year. “We are trying to win. I think we talk about it, we are going through it. I know there’s still refining to do, but I’ll be honest with you. We are finishing this season, we are talking about coming into next season ready to battle, period, exclamation point. That’s what we are looking to do.”

If these four guys keep swinging the bats like this straight on into next March, that would go a long way toward proving their manager right.

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