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.
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?