Mark Buehrle, 5 Greatest Chicago White Sox Lefties
Mark Buehrle left the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday when he signed with the Miami Marlins. Buehrle gave the White Sox 11 full seasons of solid work. He was reliable, pitching at least 200 innings in each season he played for the White Sox.
Buehrle was the ace of the White Sox staff for several years. He made a franchise record nine Opening Day starts. He led the staff that carried the White Sox to the 2005 World Series Championship.
Buehrle stands out among pitchers in White Sox history. To start one can look at how he compares to White Sox left-handed pitchers all time.
5. Gary Peters (1959-69)
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Gary Peters was 91-78 with a 2.92 ERA in his 11 seasons with the White Sox. Peters struck out 1,098 batters and walked 542 in 1,560 innings.
For a few years, Peters was as reliable as anyone. He led the league in ERA in 1963 (2.33) and 1966 (1.98) and was second in that category in 1967 (2.23). He led the league in wins in 1964 (20) and placed second in innings pitched (273.2).
He would eventually fall off. After leading the league in earned runs allowed (110) and posting a 4.52 ERA. In the ensuing offseason, the White Sox dealt Peters with Don Pavletich to the Boston Red Sox for pitchers Billy Farmer and Gerry Janeski and infielder Syd O'Brien.
4. Doc White (1903-13)
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Doc White was one of the White Sox's leading pitchers in their early years. In his time with the White Sox, White was 159-123 with a 2.30 ERA. He pitched 206 complete games and 42 shutouts, which stands second all time for the White Sox. He struck out 1,067 batters in 2,498.1 innings.
White was often among the best hurlers in the American League. He was in the top five in ERA four straight years (1903-06). In the White Sox's World Series-winning campaign, White led the league in ERA (1.52).
In the World Series against the Chicago Cubs, White was 1-1 in three appearances. He won the decisive Game 6, going the distance, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and four walks.
While White ended up 27th all time in ERA (2.39), he was a defensive liability. White had a career .959 fielding percentage and committed 51 errors, including 40 in a White Sox uniform.
3. Wilbur Wood (1967-78)
Wilbur Wood was a freak of nature in the few years he served as a full-time starter for the White Sox. He led the AL in games started from 1972 to 1975. In four straight seasons, 1971-1974, he pitched more than 300 innings, leading the league in innings pitched in 1972 (376.2) and 1973 (359.1).
After four years pitching in relief for the White Sox, Wood hit the ground running when he entered the rotation in 1971. That year, he went 22-13 with a 1.91 ERA, striking out 210 batters and pitching seven shutouts. His 189 ERA-plus and 10.7 pitching wins above replacement were tops in the AL.
Wood earned The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year Award in 1972 while placing second in Cy Young voting behind Gaylord Perry. He was 24-17 that year, leading the league in wins while posting a 2.51 ERA and striking out 193 batters and walking only 1.77 batters per nine innings.
In 1973, Wood's ERA jumped almost a run to 3.46, but he still led the league in wins (24) while also losing the third most games (19). He led the AL with 138 earned runs allowed.
Wood didn't pitch another full season with an ERA below 3.50. In 1974, he posted a 3.60 ERA. Then, in 1975, his ERA was 4.11 and he led the AL with 133 earned runs allowed and 20 losses.
In 1976, Wood saw his career flash before his eyes went Detroit Tigers hitter Ron LeFlore dialed a line drive into Wood's left knee, shattering his knee cap.
Wood was never the same after that, posting a 4.99 ERA in 24 games (18 starts) in 1977, including an outing in which he hit three batter in an inning, and a 5.20 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) in 1978 before retiring.
Wood, a three-time All-Star, was solid in the bullpen before entering the rotation. He led the league in gamed pitched from 1968 to 1970, pitching a then-record 88 games in 1968 when he won The Sporting News Relief Pitcher of the Year Award. Wood posted a 1.87 ERA in 159 innings in 1968.
Wood is fifth in White Sox history in wins (163), innings pitched (2,524.1) and strikeouts (1,332).
Image courtesy of whitesoxinteractive.com.
2. Mark Buehrle (2000-11)
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Buehrle was a dynamic pitcher for the White Sox. Buehrle pitched 200 innings, made 30 starts and won 10 games in each of his 11 full seasons with the White Sox, a streak unrivaled in White Sox history. The streak matches C.C. Sabathia for the active mark.
Buehrle, a four-time All-Star, is an emblem of durability for the White Sox. He had a streak of 66 starts lasting six innings.
He was the ace for a team that relied heavily on pitching. In 2005, Buehrle was the driving force of the White Sox's run to their first World Series title since 1917. He was fifth in the AL in wins (16), led the league in innings pitched (236.2) and was third in ERA (3.12). He started the All-Star game that year.
In the 2005 playoffs, he went 2-0. He pitched a complete game in the American League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
In the World Series against the Houston Astros, Buehrle became the first player to save a game and start in consecutive World Series games. He pitched seven innings in Game 2, allowing four runs. In Game 3, he pitched the last out to cap the 14-inning victory.
In 2001, his first season as a starter, he was fourth in wins (19), second in innings pitched (239) and second in complete games (five) while posting a 3.58 ERA.
In 2011, Buehrle tied a White Sox record with 19 straight starts allowing three or fewer runs.
Buehrle is a terrific fielder. He has won three Gold Gloves and three Fielding Bible Awards. He's picked off 83 baserunners.
Buehrle is sixth in White Sox history in wins (161), seventh in innings pitched (2476.2) and fourth in strikeouts (1,396).
1. Billy Pierce
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Billy Pierce has few peers among White Sox pitchers. He was 186-152 with a 3.19 ERA with the White Sox, tallying the fourth most wins in franchise history. His 1,796 strikeouts are a franchise record. He put up the third most shutouts (35) in White Sox history.
Pierce was one of the dominant pitchers in the 1950s. He led the AL in ERA in 1955 (1.97). Three times he led the league in complete games (1956-58). For five straight years, he was in the top five in strikeouts (1952-57). Twice he led the AL in strikeouts per 9 innings. He was among the top five in wins above replacement for pitchers seven times in 10 years, leading the AL twice.
Pierce had the highest strikeout per nine innings rate of any pitcher in the 1950s (5.62).
He made seven All-Star appearances, starting three of those games.
Even though the Cy Young didn't come along until the second half of his career, Pierce took home accolades. He won The Sporting News' Pitcher of the Year Award in 1956 when he went 20-9 with a 3.32 ERA and 192 strikeouts. In 1957, he won it again when he won a league-leading 20 games against 12 losses, posting a 3.26 ERA and 171 strikeouts.
Pierce didn't start in the 1959 World Series. Al Lopez pegged him for relief, where he pitched four scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks.
Bill James ranked Pierce 10th in value among all-time left-handed pitchers, ahead of six Hall of Fame pitchers. Maybe Pierce, now 84, can take that as solace despite not being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.