Hardball Retrospective – The “Original” 1992 Chicago White Sox

In “Hardball Retrospective: Evaluating Scouting and Development Outcomes for the Modern-Era Franchises”, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present) on their original team. Therefore, John Smoltz is listed on the Tigers roster for the duration of his career while the Rockies declare Matt Holliday and the Royals claim Carlos Beltran and Johnny Damon. I calculated revised standings for every season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition.  Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills.

Expanding on my research for the book, the following series of articles will reveal the finest single-season rosters for every Major League organization based on overall rankings in OWAR and OWS along with the general managers and scouting directors that constructed the teams. “Hardball Retrospective” is available in digital format on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, GooglePlay, iTunes and KoboBooks. The print edition is coming soon. Additional information and a discussion forum are available at TuataraSoftware.com.

Terminology

OWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “original” teams

OWS – Win Shares for players on “original” teams

OPW% – Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the “original” teams

Assessment

The 1992 Chicago White Sox         OWAR: 48.7     OWS: 278     OPW%: .547

GM Roland Hemond acquired 48% (12 of 25) of the ballplayers on the 1992 White Sox roster. Larry Himes’ brief term as the GM of the Pale Hose yielded a bumper crop of future stars including Frank E. Thomas, Robin Ventura, Jack McDowell and Alex Fernandez. 20 of the 25 team members were selected through the Amateur Draft process. Based on the revised standings the “Original” 1992 White Sox outpaced the Athletics by a five-game margin in the American League Western Division race.

Thomas (.323/24/115) paced the Junior Circuit with 46 doubles, 122 walks and a .439 OBP. The “Big Hurt” was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014 after posting a .301 lifetime batting average with 521 home runs and 1704 RBI. Ventura (.282/16/93) ripped 38 two-base hits and earned his second of six Gold Glove Awards. Brian Downing (.407 OBP) and Harold Baines platooned as the Sox’ designated hitter.

Thomas ranks tenth among first basemen in “The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract.” Ventura (22nd-3B), Downing (38th-LF) and Baines (42nd-RF) also placed in the top 100 at their respective positions.

LINEUP POS WAR WS
Brian Downing DH 1.85 13.83
Randy Velarde SS 1.89 12.15
Frank Thomas 1B 5.99 36.23
Robin Ventura 3B 5.27 28.53
Ron Karkovice C 2.58 12.13
Daryl Boston LF 1.18 10.4
Tim Hulett 2B/3B 0.65 4.19
Cecil Espy RF 0.06 3.81
John Cangelosi CF/LF -0.16 0.81
BENCH POS WAR WS
Craig Grebeck SS 2.17 9.71
Harold Baines DH 0.44 12.52
Mike Maksudian 1B -0.04 0
Matt Merullo C -0.38 0.25

Doug Drabek (15-11, 2.77) fashioned a WHIP of 1.060 and whiffed a career-high 177 batsmen. Jack McDowell notched 20 victories with a 3.18 ERA and finished fifth in the 1992 American League Cy Young balloting. “Black Jack” claimed the award in the subsequent campaign with a 22-10 mark. Bobby Thigpen struggled in the closer’s role (22 SV, 4.75) and eventually relinquished the title to Scott Radinsky (15 SV, 2.73). Rich “Goose” Gossage rates 37th among pitchers in the “NBJHBA”.

ROTATION POS WAR WS
Doug Drabek SP 5.18 19.31
Jack McDowell SP 5.17 19.77
Alex Fernandez SP 0.21 6.39
Bob Wickman SP 0.43 2.91
Buddy Groom SP -0.57 0
BULLPEN POS WAR WS
Scott Radinsky RP 0.49 6.98
Rich Gossage RP 0.4 2.33
Bobby Thigpen RP -0.56 3.07
Donn Pall RP -1.17 2.17
Vicente Palacios RP/SP 0.08 1.92
Tony Menendez RP 0.09 0.68
Pedro Borbon RP -0.04 0

The “Original” 1992 Chicago White Sox roster

NAME POS WAR WS General Manager Scouting DIrector
Frank Thomas 1B 5.99 36.23 Larry Himes Al Goldis
Robin Ventura 3B 5.27 28.53 Larry Himes
Doug Drabek SP 5.18 19.31 Roland Hemond
Jack McDowell SP 5.17 19.77 Larry Himes
Ron Karkovice C 2.58 12.13 Roland Hemond
Craig Grebeck SS 2.17 9.71 Ken Harrelson
Randy Velarde SS 1.89 12.15 Roland Hemond
Brian Downing DH 1.85 13.83 Ed Short
Daryl Boston LF 1.18 10.4 Roland Hemond
Tim Hulett 3B 0.65 4.19 Roland Hemond
Scott Radinsky RP 0.49 6.98 Ken Harrelson
Harold Baines DH 0.44 12.52 Roland Hemond
Bob Wickman SP 0.43 2.91 Larry Himes Al Goldis
Rich Gossage RP 0.4 2.33 Ed Short
Alex Fernandez SP 0.21 6.39 Larry Himes Al Goldis
Tony Menendez RP 0.09 0.68 Roland Hemond
Vicente Palacios SP 0.08 1.92 Roland Hemond
Cecil Espy RF 0.06 3.81 Roland Hemond
Mike Maksudian 1B -0.04 0 Larry Himes
Pedro Borbon RP -0.04 0 Larry Himes
John Cangelosi LF -0.16 0.81 Roland Hemond
Matt Merullo C -0.38 0.25 Ken Harrelson
Bobby Thigpen RP -0.56 3.07 Roland Hemond
Buddy Groom SP -0.57 0 Larry Himes
Donn Pall RP -1.17 2.17 Roland Hemond

Honorable Mention

The “Original” 2006 White Sox          OWAR: 45.0     OWS: 293     OPW%: .533

Chicago captured the American League Central division title by 5 games over Cleveland. “Big Hurt” rebounded from two sub-par campaigns to swat 39 big-flies and drive in 114 runs. Mike Cameron clubbed 22 round-trippers, pilfered 25 bags and claimed his third Gold Glove Award. Joe Crede established personal-bests with 30 jacks, 94 ribbies and a .283 BA. Likewise second baseman Ray Durham set career-highs in home runs (26) and RBI (93). Carlos “El Caballo” Lee slugged 37 circuit clouts and plated 116 baserunners. Magglio Ordonez contributed a .298 BA with 24 dingers and 104 ribbies.

On Deck

The “Original” 2012 Dodgers

References and Resources

Baseball America – Executive Database

Baseball-Reference

James, Bill. The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York, NY.: The Free Press, 2001. Print.

James, Bill, with Jim Henzler. Win Shares. Morton Grove, Ill.: STATS, 2002. Print.

Retrosheet – Transactions Database

Seamheads – Baseball Gauge

Sean Lahman Baseball Archive



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Derek Bain is a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games. He has written a number of articles for Fangraphs and Seamheads, and enjoys spending quality time with his family.

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