I am a former sports editor and currently serve as a historian with the Society of American Baseball Research and manage a valet operation.
Who Are the Best Home Run Hitters in Chicago White Sox History?
As a charter member of the American League, the Chicago White Sox have been in business for more than a century. But throughout that time, they have rarely been known as a team with a fiercely powerful lineup. With only one power hitter remembered among the greats of the game, the White Sox have instead settled for a series of underappreciated sluggers, and those players deserve to be remembered, too.
In this article, I will explore the top power hitters in the history of the Chicago White Sox. These rankings are not based upon opinions, and for a player to be considered, he must have hit at least 100 home runs during his time with the White Sox. Players were then ranked by averaging their rank for both of these criterion:
- Total home runs with the White Sox
- Plate appearances per home run with the White Sox
Following the top five are the best of the rest, a handful of shorter lists of franchise leaders in more defined categories, and franchise home run records. Information from Stathead on Baseball Reference was used to compile statistics.
Note: Ranks in parenthesis in individual player capsules represent their ranking among players who hit at least 100 home runs with the White Sox. ... Statistics are current through the end of the 2021 season.
5. Ron Kittle
- Years Played: 1982–86, 1989–90, '91
- Home Runs: 140 (11th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 17.38 (2nd)
- Single-Season High: 35 in 1983
Ron Kittle had three stints with the White Sox, but none were better than his first tenure from 1982 to '86. He became a full-time player in 1983 and was named an All-Star as a rookie. By the end of the season, Kittle hit 35 home runs and was named American League Rookie of the Year in one of the best power displays by a rookie during the decade. He had at least 20 home runs in each of the next four seasons, but he was traded during the 1986 campaign, hitting his first 17 homers of the year with Chicago.
T-2. Jermaine Dye
- Years Played: 2005–09
- Home Runs: 164 (8th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 18.11 (3rd)
- Single-Season High: 44 in 2006
When healthy, Jermaine Dye was quietly one of the top power hitters in baseball. In 10 of his 14 seasons, Dye played in at least 130 games, and all but two of those years saw him hit more than 25 home runs—including five seasons with the White Sox to close his career. In his first year with Chicago, Dye hit 31 homers and was named the 2005 World Series MVP after hitting one home run and driving in the decisive run in Game 4 during a sweep of the Houston Astros. In 2006, Dye launched a career-high 44 longballs, won his only career Silver Slugger, earned his second All-Star selection and garnered MVP votes for the first time.
T-2. Jose Abreu
- Years Played: 2014–present
- Home Runs: 228 (3rd)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 21.17 (8th)
- Single-Season High: 36 in 2014
Another quiet but steady star for the White Sox has been Jose Abreu. As a Cuban defector, Abreu was an All-Star and hit a career-high 36 homers as a 27-year-old rookie in 2014. He's continued to be a solid mid-lineup threat since, mashing at least 25 homers and driving in at least 100 runs in all but two seasons (an injury-shortened year in 2018 and the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season). In 2020, he hit 19 home runs while playing every game in the 60-game schedule, helping him win MVP honors. In 2021, Abreu hit a unique home run during the Field of Dreams game in Iowa. By hitting the first homer of the game, he became the first player to hit an official Major League home run in Iowa. Abreu is a three-time All-Star selection and has three Silver Sluggers to his credit.
T-2. Paul Konerko
- Years Played: 1999–2014
- Home Runs: 432 (2nd)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 21.43 (9th)
- Single-Season High: 41 in 2004
Paul Konerko was a touted prospect who never hit his stride until landing in Chicago in 1999 at age 23. For 16 seasons, he was quietly among the most balanced hitters in all of baseball, landing six All-Star selections and a World Series championship along the way. Konerko hit 20 or more home runs in each of his first 14 years with the White Sox—his best stretch coming from 2004 to '07 when he hit a total of 147 homers. In 2005, he was brilliant in the postseason for Chicago, winning MVP honors in the ALCS and also smashing a home run in a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros in the World Series. In total, he hit seven postseason home runs, including a grand slam in Game 2 of the World Series. Surprisingly, Konerko received just 2.5% of the Baseball Hall of Fame vote in his first year of eligibility, eliminating him from future ballots.
1. Frank Thomas
- Years Played: 1990–2005
- Home Runs: 448 (1st)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 19.20 (5th)
- Single-Season High: 43 in 2000
While not as flashy as some of the other top baseball stars of the 1990s, Frank Thomas is remembered right along side of them as an all-time great. Thomas had a great mix of average and power throughout 16 years with the White Sox, wrapping up his tenure with a franchise record 448 home runs and a .307 average. The "Big Hurt" won back-to-back MVPs in 1993 and '94 and hit more than 20 homers in all but one of his full seasons with the White Sox—including five seasons with at least 40. Thomas made five straight All-Star teams from 1993 to '97 and stayed in Chicago long enough to share in the 2005 World Series championship. He was injured and couldn't play during the playoffs but was selected to throw out the first pitch of the Division Series against the Boston Red Sox. Thomas was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot in 2014.
The Best of the Rest
The following four players are home run hitters from Chicago White Sox history who just missed the top five.
- Years Played: 2006–09
- Home Runs: 134 (14th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 16.16 (1st)
- Single-Season High: 42 in 2006
Despite coming to the White Sox at age 35, Jim Thome was still one of the fiercest power hitters in the game, and he hit home runs at the best rate in Chicago's history. Thome was an All-Star in his first season with the White Sox and hit at least 34 homers in each of his three full years in the Windy City.
- Years Played: 1997–2004
- Home Runs: 187 (6th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 22.53 (10th)
- Single-Season High: 38 in 2002
After a strong rookie campaign, Magglio Ordonez became the big-time slugger the White Sox were hoping he'd become. Ordonez made the All-Star team in four of the next five years while hitting at least 29 homers in each season.
- Years Played: 1981–93
- Home Runs: 214 (5th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 25.70 (13th)
- Single-Season High: 37 in 1985
Carlton Fisk is one of the greatest catchers of all-time, and he played the second half of his career in Chicago. Fisk made five All-Star teams and won three Silver Sluggers during his 13-year tenure with the White Sox.
- Years Played: 2000–04
- Home Runs: 136 (12th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 20.22 (6th)
- Single-Season High: 30 in 2004
Jose Valentin isn't remembered among the top sluggers in baseball history, but when he was with the White Sox, he was very consistent with his power. Though he never played more than 144 games, Valentin's season totals for home runs in Chicago: 25, 28, 25, 28 and 30.
Chicago White Sox Home Run History
Below are some of the franchise home run records for the Chicago White Sox.
Chicago White Sox Career Home Run Leaders
- 1. Frank Thomas, 448
- 2. Paul Konerko, 432
- 3. Jose Abreu, 228
- 4. Harold Baines, 221
- 5. Carlton Fisk, 214
Chicago White Sox Plate Appearance/Home Run Leaders (min. 100 HRs)
- Jim Thome, 16.16
- Ron Kittle, 17.38
- Jermaine Dye, 18.11
- Carlos Quentin, 18.49
- Frank Thomas, 19.20
Chicago White Sox Single-Season Home Run Leaders
- 1. Albert Belle, 49 (1998)
- 2. Jermaine Dye, 44 (2006)
- 3. Frank Thomas, 43 (2000)
- 4. Thomas, 42 (2003)
- 5. Jim Thome, 42 (2006)
Chicago White Sox Single-Game Home Run Leaders
- Pat Seerey, 4 (July 18, 1948)
- 16 players tied with 3 (Harold Baines did it twice)
© 2021 Andrew Harner