Paul Konerko and the 10 Most Underrated Players in White Sox History

Derek CooleyCorrespondent IMay 6, 2011

Paul Konerko and the 10 Most Underrated Players in White Sox History

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 01: Paul Konerko #14 of the Chicago White Sox hits the ball against the Baltimore Orioles at U.S. Cellular Field on May 1, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Orioles defeated the White Sox 6-4. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Second City.

    The not-so-flattering nickname, given to Chicago by New Yorker columnist A.J. Liebling in the 1950s, embodies the spirit of the underdog.  The nickname refers to Chicago's size and stature relative to that of New York City.

    But Chicago stands on its own in the heartland of America, so much so that two Major League Baseball teams are able to call Chicago home.  The NL's Chicago Cubs play on the North-side, and the AL's Chicago White Sox play on the South-side.

    However, the team on the North-side gets more media coverage and has a much larger national fanbase.  With that being the case, you can find many players that have been overlooked and underrated throughout the history of the Chicago White Sox.

    In no particular order, here is the current Chicago White Sox captain Paul Konerko and the 10 most underrated players in White Sox history.

    **Any player on their way to the Hall of Fame (Frank Thomas), or currently in the Hall of Fame are not** eligible to be considered underrated in my list.**

SP Mark Buehrle

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 15: Mark Buehrle #56 of the Chicago White Sox reacts in the second inning against  the New York Yankees on September 15, 2008 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    Mark Buehrle, the current ace and veteran member of the White Sox pitching staff, is currently in his 12th year with the White Sox.  He has spent his whole career on the South-side.  Not only has Mark been a loyal member to the White Sox, he has been an even better teammate.  

    Buehrle just recently captured win number 150 of his career, giving him a 150-113 career record with the Sox.  Buehrle boasts a rather impressive career 3.86 ERA, given the era he has pitched in.  Buehrle is one of the few pitchers to have thrown a no-hitter AND a perfect game.  He is a four-time AL All-Star, including being the starter in '05, and led the AL in starts twice, innings twice and assists by a pitcher four times.  All those assists, including an absolute stunning play on opening day in 2010, has garnered Mark four Gold Gloves.

    What really makes Mark underrated is the fact that this ace was drafted in the 38th round of the 1998 MLB draft.

SP Billy Pierce

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    CHICAGO - APRIL 7: Former Chicago White Sox player Billy Pierce throws out a ceremonial first pitch before the Opening Day game between the White Sox and the Kansas City Royals on April 7, 2009 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonath
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Billy Pierce towed the mound for the White Sox from 1949 to 1961.  If you have ever been to U.S. Cellular Field or watched a White Sox game, you'll notice a portrait of him located on the left-center field wall.  His portrait is accompanied by his number 19, retired by the White Sox in 1987.

    Pierce compiled a 186-152 career record and 3.91 ERA during his 13-year tenure with Chicago.  He made seven AL All-Star teams and was the very first White Sox pitcher to start in the midsummer classic.  The Sporting News tabbed Pierce as the Pitcher of the Year in 1956 and 1957.

    Pierce was one of the best starting pitchers in all the 1950s.  His 20 wins led the league in '57, his 1.97 ERA led the league in '55, and his 166 strikeouts led the lead in 1953.

    Billy's most impressive stat has to be his complete game numbers.  Pierce led the AL in complete games for three consecutive years, 1956-58, with an astounding 56 combined. 

LF Minnie Minoso

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    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 07: Six time All-Star Minnie Minoso throws out a ceremonial first pitch before the home opener between the Chicago White Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field on April 7, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Minnie Minoso is 85 years old right now; look at that form!

    His form for his age doesn't surprise me, though, considering Minoso is the only player to play in the MLB during five separate decades.  Yes, his two at-bats as a 54-year-old at the end of the 1980 campaign makes it a tad less glamorous, but his feat is still nothing short of spectacular.

    During his combined 12 years with the White Sox, Minoso maintained a .304 batting average, hit 138 home runs and drove in 808 base runners.   He also compiled 1,523 hits and crossed home plate 893 times.

    Minoso won two Gold Gloves with the Sox and was voted to the All-Star game seven times.

    His number 9 was retired by the White Sox in 1983 and resides on the outfield wall. 

RF Jermaine Dye

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    CHICAGO - JUNE 8:  Jermaine Dye #23 of the Chicago White Sox swings at the pitch against the Detroit Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field on June 8, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Win or Die Trying.

    That was the White Sox slogan during their 2005 campaign that saw them win the World Series. That wouldn't have been possible if Dye hadn't been on their side.  Therefore, their only choice was to win it all.

    Jermaine Dye played for the White Sox for five seasons from 2005 to 2009.  He batted .278, hit 164 home runs and drove 461 runs home.  He also totaled 742 hits and crossed home plate 419 times.  Dye's .525 slugging percentage ranks third all-time for Chicago.  

    Dye was only voted to one All-Star team (2006), even though he brought his bat AND glove to the park everyday.  Jermaine was awarded the Silver Slugger award for RF in 2006 and has led the AL in fielding percentage, putouts and assists as a right fielders.

    However, Jermaine Dye has one more award that sits above the rest.  Dye was given the Babe Ruth Award following the 2005 season.  This award is more well known as the World Series MVP.   

OF Shoeless Joe Jackson

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    DYERSVILLE, IA - AUGUST 25: A 'ghost player' recreating the role of Chicago White Sox legend Shoeless Joe Jackson plays ball with a young tourist at the baseball field created for the motion picture 'Field of Dreams' on August 25, 1991 in Dyersville, Iowa
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The name Joe Jackson is extremely common and can refer to thousands of different guys. But when you add the word "shoeless" to the beginning of his name, it can only be one person.

    What's unfortunate for Joe, though, he isn't famous for his baseball abilities.  He is known for being on the 1919 Black Sox team and is "role" in the movie "Field of Dreams", featuring Kevin Costner.

    Shoeless Joe played six seasons for the White Sox before his expulsion from baseball in 1920 (Black Sox Scandal).  Joe batted .340 for the White Sox, hit 30 home runs and drove in 426.  He also totaled 829 hits and scored 396 times.  His .340 average tops White Sox franchise history.

    What could have been is basically all that needs to be said.  Joe was expelled from baseball for his alleged involvement in throwing the 1919 World Series.  I'm not to sure if batting .375 with a home run and six RBI in the series constitutes as trying to throw it.

    Here is one incredible stat I found in regards to Shoeless Joe.  In 2,439 career at-bats with the ChiSox, Jackson only struck out 87 times.  Wow.

1B Paul Konerko

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    PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Paul Konerko #14 of the Chicago White Sox signs an autograph before the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers during spring training at Camelback Ranch on February 28, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    The current captain, Paul Konerko, is in his 13th season with the White Sox.  Pauly has been embraced by the fans on the South-side ever since he came over in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds.

    Konerko has hit .283 so far in his career in Chicago while launching 366 home runs and driving in 1152 runs.  His home run and RBI numbers both rank second all-time for the White Sox, both behind Frank Thomas.  He has also compiled 1,847 hits and has scored 965 times.

    Paul has been named to four AL All-Star clubs, won the ALCS MVP award in 2005 and led all AL first basemen in fielding percentage during 2003.  One aspect that is extremely underrated in Pauly's game has to be his fielding.  The guy has never won a Gold Glove and has been consistently one of the best fielding first basemen in all the MLB.

    What puts Konerko forever in the hearts of White Sox fans is a couple of things.  For one, he hit an incredibly clutch grand slam in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series on the first pitch he saw from Houston reliever Dan Wheeler.  

    The other thing is his extreme loyalty.

    Konerko became eligible for free agency follow the 2005 and 2010 seasons and garnered a lot of interest.  Instead, Pauly resigned with the White Sox on each occasion for less money. 

3B Robin Ventura

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    5 Jun 1998:  Robin Ventura #23 of the Chicago White Sox in action during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the White Sox 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Robin Ventura played the first 10 years of his Major League career with the Chicago White Sox. Since getting drafted 13th overall by Chicago in 1989 until his departure in 1998, Ventura always seemed to bring Sox fans to their feet.

    Ventura batted .274 with the Sox, hitting 171 home runs and driving in 741.  Robin totaled 1244 hits with Chicago and crossed home 658 times.  Ventura had a solid career at the plate, but was one of the best at flashing the leather.

    From arguably the toughest fielding position in baseball (3B), Ventura took home five Gold Gloves with White Sox.  He was also voted onto the 1992 AL All-Star team.

    What to here something crazy.  In a game against the Texas Rangers in September of 1995, Robin Ventura hit not one, but two grand slams.  His eight RBI that game still has yet to be bested by any White Sox slugger.  

RF/DH Harold Baines

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    20 Apr 1996:  Harold Baines #3 of the Chicago White Sox rests the bat on his shoulder during the White Sox'' 8-3 victory over the Oakland A''s at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule/Allsport
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    The current first base coach for the White Sox, Harold Baines was one of the greatest ever to hold down the DH position.  That's what Harold did; he was a pure hitter.

    Harold spent parts of 14 years with the White Sox as a player and has been a bench coach and base coach on the South-side since his retirement.

    With Chicago, Harold hit .288 with 221 home runs and 981 RBI.  He also collected 1.773 hits and hit home 786 times.

    Harold was a four-time All-Star with Chicago, won a silver slugger in 1989 as DH and led the AL in slugging percentage during the 1984 season.

    Harold Baines was a nice gift for the White Sox when they were up first in the 1977 MLB Draft.  And he has been the gift that keeps on giving, using his experience to help current White Sox players from his coaching position.

    You can still hear "HAR-OLD" echoing through the parking lot at U.S. Cellular Field, which is where the old Comisky Park used to stand.

SP Jack McDowell

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Black-Jack McDowell aced the White Sox pitching staff for seven seasons from 1987 to 1994. McDowell had the skill and attitude it took to be the ace of a playoff contender.  His problems would usually occur after making the playoffs...unfortunately.

    McDowell compiled a 91-58 record and 3.50 ERA in his career with the White Sox.  McDowell was named to three AL All-Star teams, won the 1993 AL Cy Young Award and the same was titled Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News.

    Jack wasn't just a horse on the mound for Chicago; he was a thoroughbred.  Jack's 22 wins topped all pitchers in the AL in 1993, led the league in starts twice ('91, '94) and complete games twice ('91, '92). 

SP/RP Wilbur Wood

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    Wilbur Wood did a little bit of everything during his 12 seasons with the Chicago White Sox.  Known for his thick Boston accent, Wilbah played for Chicago from 1967 to 1978.

    During his tenure wearing white, Wilbur went 163-148 with a minuscule 3.18 ERA.  He also had 57 saves, because Wood was the closer in his first three seasons with Chicago.

    Wilbur was named to three AL All-star teams and was named Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News in 1972.

    A converted closer wouldn't have as much stamina as a long-time starter, would he?  Wilbur would beg to differ, considering he led the AL in innings twice, wins twice, appearances three times and starts three times.

    Those last two stats really blow my mind.  A guy who appeared in the most games as a reliever three consecutive years ('68-'70) follows that with making the most starts for three consecutive years ('72-'75).  Only one season separated those two three-peats.  I'm not sure if that will ever be done again.