Flowers: All-2010s White Sox Team
The 2010s were tough for White Sox fans, but they weren’t anything that a stiff glass of whiskey couldn’t solve.
As part of the On-Tap Sports Net’s “All-2010s Fan Vote,” I laid out my picks for the Chicago White Sox team of the decade while enjoying a nice cold beer paired with a glass of whiskey on the rocks on Christmas Eve.
So, hopefully you’ll enjoy the read, and please remember to share your thoughts and opinions with me on Twitter (@coachpflowers) before the fan voting kicks off on Friday.
Catcher – A.J. Pierzynski (2010-2012)
Arguably one of the most beloved catchers in franchise history, A.J. Pierzynski ended his tenure with the Chicago White Sox in the early years of the decade after the 2012 season, capping an eight-year career on the South Side that included a World Series Championship in 2005, an All-Star Game appearance in 2006, and finally a Silver Slugger Award in 2012 when he hit 27 home runs and drove in 77 runs (both career-highs) over the course of 135 games.
Pierzynski had a sneaky strong career behind the dish, compiling over 2,000 hits, 188 home runs, over 900 RBI and 23.9 bWAR with a bulk of that coming in a Sox uniform.
After Pierzynski departed prior to the 2013 season, the position never was the same, even with James McCann lighting up the charts in the first half of the 2019 season and earning an ASG nod, so for that, A.J. Pierzynski is my pick for this team.
First Base – Paul Konerko (2010-2014)
I love Jose Abreu, and I think he’s done a fine job of filling Paul Konerko’s shoes in the better part of this decade, but this is really a no-brainer for me.
Even in the twilight of his career, Paul Konerko earned ASG nods in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and finished fifth in MVP balloting in 2011 and then 15th in 2012.
During this stretch of five seasons before Paulie hung ’em up, he hit 113 home runs, drove in 367 runs, added 101 doubles, and slashed to a .283/.359/.475/.834 line. He’s a World Series Champion, his number is retired, and he’s got a statue in front of the ballpark — the captain, Paulie Konerko, is my pick for the all-decade team.
Second Base – Yolmer Sanchez (2014-2019)
Yolmer (formerly Carlos) Sànchez spent the better part of six seasons on the South Side before being non-tendered last month, and boy were they some thin years for White Sox baseball.
As we saw this winter, with the team shifting their sights from rebuild to contention, Sànchez isn’t quite an everyday player on a winning ballclub, but he was perfect for this particular club for the period that he was here.
He was a super-utility player that answered the bell whenever and wherever he was needed. Sometimes a platoon-mate, sometimes an everyday player, it didn’t matter to Yolmer.
More impressive than his sub-par career offensive numbers — 80 OPS+ in 2,000-plus at-bats — or even his 2019 Rawlings Gold Glove Award at second base, was his radiating personality. Sànchez was never at a loss for words, and he was never afraid to try to lighten up the mood for the club and fans alike at a time when it was probably needed the most.
I still remember covering SoxFest 2018, and being outside of the Palmer House by Hilton Hotel watching Yolmer Sànchez finishing buttoning up and fixing the scarf of a little girl on the street like a regular old fan, and then the next day signing 2017 yearbooks for my kids, personalizing them with their names as he roamed the crowd of the hotel in search of making as many fan’s days as possible.
Grab yourself a Gatorade bath, Yolmer — you’re my second-baseman of the decade.
Shortstop – Tim Anderson (2016-2019)
While some would argue that Anderson’s 2019 season was his true coming-out party, I would argue that it was one hell of a party — enough to earn him the honor of representing the shortstop position for the White Sox during a decade of dull.
Anderson won himself a batting title in 2019 and has become a leader on and off the field. Carrying a ferocity on the field that has earned the eye of the baseball world, he made opponents’ trips to the South Side ones that they won’t forget.
The bat-flips, the swagger, the confidence, and the commitment to always improving his craft have cemented him as the shortstop of the future, but it doesn’t end there.
Anderson and his wife Bria have turned Anderson’s on-field notoriety into an avenue to help make a real difference in the lives of children and families in Chicago and their native Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
After conquering a rocky start in the box score and battling the demons of the murder of his best friend throughout his early years with the White Sox, TA7 is just getting started, ladies and gentlemen. Buckle up.
Third Base – Yoan Moncada (2017-2019)
The rebuild’s earliest commodity, the gem of the Chris Sale trade that started this all back in December of 2016, Yoán Moncada is a budding superstar for the Chicago White Sox.
The scary part — for the rest of the American League Central — is that his breakout 2019 season is just the beginning.
After leading baseball in strikeouts in 2018, Moncada moved to third base and changed his approach at the plate. The end result was a 4.6 bWAR season that saw the switch-hitting phenom crush 25 home runs and 79 RBI while slashing .315/.367/.548/.915 with an OPS+ of 141.
Moncada turned into a Gold Glove-caliber player defensively at third base and received an MVP vote from The Athletic’s James Fegan, which was with plenty of merit. His numbers were phenomenal, and he’s just figuring it out, folks.
Left Field – Eloy Jimenez (2019)
Some might point to Melky Cabrera here based on tenure — or lack thereof — alone, but I’ll point out that Eloy hit 31 bombs in his 2019 rookie campaign, while Cabrera hit just 39 in his 1,757 plate appearances in Chicago.
Had it not been for missing 39 games — largely due to a pair of injuries suffered in defensive mishaps — Eloy would have likely flirted with a 40 home run, 100 RBI season in his rookie year in Chicago.
Enough said… “Hiiiiiiiiiiii Mom!”
Center Field – Adam Eaton (2014-2016)
Despite his tenure in Chicago coming to a screeching halt after the circus-like 2016 season, while here Adam Eaton was a fan favorite and probably the most productive outfielder on the South Side in this decade.
“Spanky” played 433 games in Chicago with the bulk coming in centerfield as he slashed his way to a .290/.362/.428/.790 line.
Eaton garnered MVP votes in 2016 (finished 15th in the balloting), and stole 47 bases, racked up 83 doubles, 28 triples, 29 home runs and 150 RBI in his three seasons in Chicago.
Right Field – Avisail Garcia (2013-2018)
Avi Garcia, to me at least, was one of the most disappointing players of the decade.
Sure, his 2017 season was fun. He earned a trip to Miami and reunited with old friend Chris Sale in the mid-summer classic, but this was a guy who was supposed to be the next big thing.
Many likened him to former teammate and fellow-countryman, Miguel Cabrera — but the hype just never materialized for Avi.
Despite such, he was the best right-fielder on the White Sox this decade — that’s how bad this outfield has been for the last ten years — hitting 74 home runs, driving in 289 runs, 85 doubles, 13 triples and an OPS+ of 104 during his six seasons.
Designated Hitter – Matt Davidson (2016-2018)
It would be really easy to slide Jose Abreu over here just for the sake of getting him on the roster, but he’s always been a primary first baseman and that would be the easy way out.
Instead, we’re left with Matt Davidson.
Davidson came up in 2016 and got a whole two plate appearances in before a season-ending injury derailed his debut season.
In 2017 and 2018, Davidson handled the bulk of the DH duties, hitting .224 with 46 home runs, 39 doubles, and 130 RBIs for the White Sox. Davidson showed excellent power potential but just struck out way too often to be a long-term fixture. Davidson struck out 330 times in 939 plate appearances in 2017-18, nearly a third of his trips to the plate.
This is really just a highlight of what a black hole the DH spot was for the White Sox this decade, a problem that the White Sox are hoping that they addressed this winter by adding Yasmani Grandal and Edwin Encarnacion to the roster.
Starting Pitcher – Chris Sale (2010-2016)
What a ride it was for the lanky lefty from Florida Gulf Coast on the South Side.
Sale went from bullpen arm that most thought would see his arm explode by way of his unorthodox and violent delivery, to South Side cult hero, to jersey cutting-clubhouse menace that was eventually dealt to Boston to signal the official start of the current White Sox rebuild.
For better or for worse, Chris Sale was a perennial stud for the White Sox. He earned five All-Star Game appearances and was a Cy Young Award finalist for five consecutive seasons (2012-2016).
Sale racked up a whopping 1,244 strikeouts during his 228 appearances, a 74-50 record, a 10.1 K/9, and a 3.00 ERA before being traded to the Boston Red Sox in December of 2016 for Yoán Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz.
Starting Pitcher – Mark Buehrle (2010-2011)
Like Pierzynski and Konerko, Buehrle is sort of a hold-over from a much happier previous decade — but the crafty southpaw played a pair of seasons on the South Side this decade, and he’s getting my second starting pitcher spot.
During his two seasons this decade, Buehrle won 26 starts and pitched to the tune of a 3.94 ERA and two Rawlings Gold Glove Awards over the course of 415.2 innings of work, which is comparable or better than most of the pitchers on the South Side not named Chris Sale.
With the likes of Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, and others, the next decade should provide us with a more fruitful debate at this position, but for now, nostalgia and consistency earn Buehrle a spot on this roster.
Relief Pitcher – David Robertson (2015-2017)
In an era of volatility and high turnover rates when it comes to bullpen arms in baseball, David Robertson was a strong closer on some shitty Chicago White Sox teams during his brief tenure here.
Robertson racked up 84 of his 137 career saves in Chicago and logged 208 strikeouts in 159 innings of work before being dealt back to the New York Yankees in the summer of 2017, just two-and-a-half seasons after being acquired by the White Sox.
Manager – Rick Renteria (2017-2019)
It’s pretty slim pickings here as we round this bad boy out, but Renteria is the lesser of two evils, maybe simply by default. The end of the Ozzie Guillen era was a wreck, and so was Robin Ventura‘s entire tenure as the White Sox skipper.
Renteria really hasn’t done anything to earn this spot, but he’s the guy in the seat that has fudged up less this decade, so he’s going to get the nod.
Feature Photo: Ron Vesely/Getty Images