White Sox Draft Countdown: Top 10 picks from past 25 years (#1)
Well, with the MLB Draft less than an hour away, what better time would there be to reveal the number one player on our countdown of the top ten White Sox draft picks from the past 25 years. Before we get to the top dog, let us revisit players #10-2.
#10: Addison Reed
#9: James Baldwin
#8: Joe Crede
#7: Chris Sale
#6: Aaron Rowand
#5: Mike Cameron
#4: Ray Durham
#3: Robin Ventura
#2: Mark Buehrle
Rarely has Major League Baseball seen a hitter quite like the guy atop our list. He’s one of the best power hitters to ever play the game, and one of the most beloved Southsiders of all-time. You’ll be seeing him in Cooperstown as early as 2014.
This man needs no introduction…..
#1 Frank Thomas: 1989 1st rd pick (7th overall)
Frank Thomas was drafted in the first round of the 1989 MLB Draft out of Auburn. It didn’t take the “Big Hurt” too long to crack the White Sox, as he made his big league debut the following season on August 2. In limited playing time during the 1990 campaign, Thomas hit .330, hit seven homers and drove in 31 runs. The year after, Thomas would earn a spot as the team’s starting first baseman. He’d show instantly that he was capable of being an offensive powerhouse, as he belted 32 home runs and drove in 109 runs, while maintaining a .318 batting average. His prowess at the plate earned him a Silver Slugger Award and a third place finish in A.L. MVP voting. In 1993, Thomas would once again be one of the top hitters in the game. He belted 25 homers and had 115 RBI. Thomas led the league with 42 doubles, and he also hit .323. The years 1993 and 1994 would mark two of the best in his career, as Thomas won his only two career MVP awards. In 1993, he hit 41 homers and also had 128 RBI. In a strike-shortened 1994, Thomas finished with 38 homers and 101 RBI after 113 games. He was on pace to hit around 50 home runs, if the season had not been cancelled, and he was also in contention for the prestigious Triple Crown. Over the next four seasons, Thomas would continue to eat up opposing pitching. From 1995-98 he averaged 36 HR, 120 RBI per season with a batting average of .316. He led the league in batting once (1997) during this stretch and made the all-star team from 1995-97. Over an 11 season stretch from 1991-2000, the Big Hurt hit 30 home runs or more a miraculous eight times. In fact, Thomas had the eighth most home runs of the entire 1990s. Thomas would hit a career-high 43 homers during the 2000 season for the A.L. Central Division Champion White Sox and finish second in A.L. MVP voting. Injuries plagued Thomas during the 2001 campaign, as he needed season-ending surgery for torn triceps. He would only play 20 games that season. He would bounce back in 2003 to finish tied for second in the league with 42 home runs, but in 2004 he would play less than half a season due to nagging injuries. Thomas was not on the active roster for the 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox, but it did not stop him from making an impact in the playoffs. During game one of the Division Series against the Boston Red Sox, Thomas was chosen to throw out the first pitch. This was an honor that he declared one of the “best’ of his career. He would not re-sign with the Southsiders following the 2005 season, as he inked a new contract with the Oakland Athletics. The 2006 campaign would mark his last as one of the game’s best power hitters, as he hit 39 dingers and drove in 114 runs. The following season–with the Toronto Blue Jays–he would still manage 26 home runs and 95 runs batted in. The Big Hurt set two milestones during the 2007 season. First, on June 17, he became the all-time leader in home runs by a designated hitter with 244. The record has since been broken by Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. Less than two weeks later, he would join baseball immortality by hitting his 500th home run of his career. Thomas would be released by Toronto the following season in mid-April. He would soon sign back on with the Athletics, with whom he would finish out his 19-year career. Frank Thomas finished his career with 521 home runs, 1704 runs batted in, and a lifetime average of .301. He is the White Sox franchise leader in career home runs, RBI, and hits. It is safe to say that there has never been a player like Frank Thomas to put on a White Sox uniform. On July 31, 2011 the White Sox gave Thomas the ultimate honor of dedicating an outfield statue to him–the eighth in team history. To put into perspective how great of a hitter he was, only five players have recorded more homers and have had a higher batting average in their careers than Thomas-Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Manny Ramirez. He’ll be up for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame next season, and I don’t think that there is any doubt that we’ll see a Frank Thomas plaque someday in Cooperstown. Players like Frank Thomas come around once in a lifetime. He’s already gone down in history as the greatest player in Chicago White Sox history, and that’s saying something for a franchise that has been around for over 110 years. They just don’t quite make him like the Big Hurt anymore.