Many players who suited up in a White Sox uniform throughout the mid-2010s rebuild are not members of the team today.
The club has grown talent from its farm system, traded for veterans, and done everything in between to set itself up for what is looking like immense success in the near future. The club brought in names like Liam Hendriks, Craig Kimbrel, Lance Lynn, Yasmani Grandal, and many more big-name talents to get closer to bringing a championship to the South Side.
However, success does not come overnight. Before acquiring all of these stars, the club had to tear everything down and suffer for multiple seasons.
During those dark years, the team was kept alive, the fans were kept in seats, due to the hard work and passion of many players who are not with the club anymore today. Players who were playing day-in and day-out knowing the White Sox were not necessarily going to win very many games, but hoping that they would be a part of the team when they finally did make it to the top.
Here, I recognize three players who kept the White Sox afloat throughout the rebuild with their energy, magical moments, and consistency, no matter how long they were a part of the club.
Sanchez played in seven seasons with the Sox, slapping over 120 hits in each season from 2017-19, as well as winning a gold glove in 2019. However, those were not his greatest contributions to the rebuilding ballclub.
Over the years preceding the White Sox’ current success, Sanchez racked up 548 hits, smacked 32 home runs, batted .245 and drove in 215 runs. He was then waived by the club to make way for Nick Madrigal, but the impact of Sanchez will not be forgotten by fans.
The special thing about Sanchez was his spirit, no matter the outcome of the game. For a non-power hitter in today’s game, hitting around .250 every year is not really something to be proud of. However, with lineups full of guys hitting under .200 and bouncing between minor and major league clubs, Sanchez found a way to stay on the field and also provide consistency with another thing: his attitude.
Whether it was swimming through the infield puddles during a rain delay, putting up Mickey Mouse ears over his head after every hit, or his infamous gatorade showers, Sanchez knew how to keep fans excited about the White Sox.
After seemingly every walk-off home run that the team hit, Sanchez was always the first one out of the dugout holding the massive orange Gatorade tub over his head. But he was not ready to dump it on anyone else, he was ready to dump it on himself. With every dump of the gatorade, Sanchez showed fans just how much fun the game of baseball can be.
As tough as the downfall of Mercedes has been since his demotion to AAA as well as his retirement saga, the 2021 White Sox season cannot be talked about without mention of The Yerminator’s electric start.
Mercedes played in 68 games this season for the Sox, starting off with a scorching-hot .432 batting average over his first 20 games. His record-setting 8-for-8 start, his 485-foot missile in his first at-bat in front of White Sox fans, and his walk-off heroics to snap him out of a bad slump were undoubtedly some of the brightest moments of the season for the White Sox.
Mercedes hit .400 with the bases loaded, .360 in late-inning pressure situations, and .338 against lefties overall. He finished with an average of .271, seven home runs, 37 RBI’s, and a whole lot of memories for White Sox fans who had been craving in-person fireworks from the club for over a year prior.
Although he was not on the big league club during the worst years of the rebuild, the reason Mercedes lands on this list is that he was working his way up through the organization throughout those seasons. The Dominican Republic native spent over nine years playing minor league ball, ever since he was 18 years old, and finally broke through in 2021 for a hopeful White Sox team. His play in April kept this team afloat early in the season, and he is a big part of the reason why the White Sox made it through some massive injuries at times.
McCann, a longtime member of the Tigers, came to the White Sox as a solid backstop and an okay hitter. In Chicago, he took everything up a notch and provided excitement from the catcher position for several years.
In his first year with the team, McCann posted career highs in home runs, RBIs, walks, and earned the first All-Star selection of his career. He finished with a .273 average, 18 home runs, and 60 RBIs. The next year, in 2020, McCann hit a career-high .289 with seven bombs and 15 RBIs in just 31 games.
His stellar season earned him a career deal with the Mets and also helped keep the White Sox afloat during the 2018 and 2019 seasons in which they could feel success in the near future.
Exciting times are coming for the White Sox – they could clinch the AL Central Division for the first time in 13 years today.
However, this trip down memory lane just shows how far we’ve come as fans, and how much we should enjoy today – should it be the day they clinch.
Featured Photo: Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) / Twitter