By The Numbers – 57

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #57.  30 players have donned #57 while playing in Chicago, 17 for the White Sox and 13 for the Cubs.

Acquired by the Cubs, along with Matt Clement, in the deal that sent Dontrelle Willis, among others, to the Marlins in March of 2002, Antonio Alfonseca became the closer for a miserable 2002 Cubs team, which just so happened to be my first as a season ticket holder.  The 12-fingered Alfonseca went 2-5 with a 4.00 ERA and 19 saves in his first go-around with the team.  In 2003, he lost the closer role and was not particularly effective, going 3-1 with a 5.83 ERA.  He was suspended for 5 games in September after bumping an umpire with his generous stomach.  He was perfect in the post-season, appearing in 4 games total giving up no runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Braves and the Marlins.  He became a free agent following that 2003 season.

#57 has been a mainstay of the back end of the White Sox bullpen for many years, shared amongst such luminaries as Jace Fry, Zach Putnam, Tony Pena, and Boone Logan.

#74 – Brent Lillibridge

lillibridgeName: Brent Lillibridge

Rank: 74

Position: 2B/OF

Years With White Sox: 2009-2012

Brent Lillibridge was acquired by the White Sox, along with Tyler Flowers and 2 minor leaguers, from the Braves in exchange for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan on December 4, 2008.  He split the 2009 season between Triple A Charlotte and Chicago, hitting an anemic .158 in 95 at bats spread across 46 games.

Lillibridge stuck with the White Sox in 2010, improving his average to .224 in only 64 games.  2011 was his best season, setting career highs in home runs, RBIs, batting average, and OPS.  On April 11, he hit the 10,000th home run in White Sox history off Dallas Braden and the A’s.

Lillibridge struggled again in 2012, with his average dropping down to .175 before the June 24th trade that sent him, along with Zach Stewart, to the Red Sox for Kevin Youkilis.

Lillibridge’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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#120 – Tyler Flowers

tyler-flowers

Name: Tyler Flowers

Rank: 120

Position: C

Years With White Sox: 2009-2015

Tyler Flowers came to the White Sox following the 2008 season, acquired from the Braves, along with Jon Gilmore, Santos Rodriguez, and Brent Lillibridge, for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan.  Flowers performed well in 2009, splitting time between Double A Birmingham and Triple A Charlotte, hitting .297 with 15 home runs.  He earned a call-up to the big leagues when rosters expanded on September 1, but his hot hitting did not follow.  He appeared in 10 games for the White Sox, hitting .188 without driving in a run.

Flowers opened the 2010 season back in Charlotte, where, unfortunately, his hitting woes continued.  Despite a .220 average, he got another late season call-up, this time garnering only 1 hit in 11 at bats.

Flowers returned to Charlotte to start the 2011 season, but returned to the big leagues in July when Ramon Castro went down with an injury.  Flowers got a chance to start every day in August when A.J. Pierzynski got hurt, enabling him to garner both his first home run and, later in the month, his first grand slam.

2012 saw Flowers break camp with the White Sox for the first time, becoming the backup to Pierzynski.  Appearing in 52 games, he managed to “raise” his average to .213, but saw his on base percentage fall below .300 for the first time in his short career.  Despite the troubling offensive performance he had put up to date, the White Sox decided it was time to let Flowers take control behind the plate and they allowed A.J. Pierzynski to leave as a free agent following the season.

As the starter in 2013, Flowers continued to struggle offensively, finishing with a batting average below .200, though a shoulder injury ended his season early, limiting him to 84 games.  With his shoulder recovered, he returned behind the plate as the primary receiver in 2014, appearing in 127 games and rebounding to a .241 average, though his OPS failed to break .700.

2015 was more of the same for Flowers, appearing in 112 games and struggling offensively, finishing with a .239 average and a weak .652 OPS.  Following the season, the White Sox decided not to tender him a contract for 2016, and his tenure on the south side came to an end one month ago.

Flowers’ numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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Transaction Tree

WhiteSox-rosterA few weeks back, when Corey Kluber won the Cy Young award, a New York time reporter tweeted how the Indians had, through multiple trades, turned Eddie Taubensee’s 1991 roster spot in to Kluber.  The fine folks at Grantland took it a step farther, and looked at the longest such chain for all 30 teams.

The White Sox fall smack dab in the middle of the league, having the 15th longest chain, dating back to the February 8, 1994 signing of amateur free agent Carlos Lee.  Lee made his major league debut on May 7, 1999, and quickly became a mainstay of the White Sox lineup, holding down left field through the 2004 season.  New manager Ozzie Guillen had tired of the station to station team he inherited, and was looking to implement some small ball, so Lee was shipped to the Brewers for a package that included Scott Podsednik and Luis Vizcaino.

Vizcaino spent just the one season with the White Sox, earning a World Series championship ring for his troubles.  With general manager Kenny Williams looking to repeat, he packaged Vizcaino with Orlando Hernandez and outfielder Chris Young in a trade to the Diamondbacks for starting pitcher Javier Vazquez.

Vazquez lasted 3 seasons with the White Sox, up to and including their 2008 AL Central title-winning year.  As the White Sox battled the Twins for the title, Vazquez turned out to be the one weak link in the rotation.  With the season stretching to a 163rd game, Guillen was forced to turn to Vazquez to start the first game of the division series against the Rays.  Vazquez responded to the challenge by giving up 6 runs in 4 1/3 innings, putting his team in an early hole in the best of 5 series.

Feeling that he couldn’t open the 2009 season with Vazquez still on the roster, Kenny Williams moved him, along with Boone Logan, to the Braves for, among others, Brent Lillibridge and Tyler Flowers.  Flowers made his debut in 2009 and became the full time starting catcher in 2013.  His production has been lacking over the course of his major league career, and, should an opportunity to upgrade arise, this chain may come to an end.

#220 – Brandon McCarthy

McCarthy_action_bw_sports_t440

Name: Brandon McCarthy

Rank: 220

Position: P

Years With White Sox: 2005-2006

Brandon McCarthy joined the White Sox organization as their 17th round pick of the 2002 draft, 3 rounds ahead of Boone Logan.  In 2004, between 3 different minor league stops, McCarthy led all minor league pitchers with 202 strike outs.  He made his major league debut the following May, getting a spot start at Wrigley Field against the crosstown rival Cubs.  He ended up appearing in 12 games for the big league club, making 10 starts.  While the White Sox went on the win the World Series, McCarthy was left off the playoff roster.

McCarthy spent the entire 2006 season with the White Sox, working mostly out of the bullpen.  He appeared in 53 games, starting 2, and finished the year with a 4.68 ERA.  He looked poised to join the White Sox rotation for 2007 heading in to the offseason, but it was not to be.  That December, he was shipped to the Rangers in exchange for John Danks, Nick Masset, and a minor league throw in.

McCarthy’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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#221 – Boone Logan

Boone Logan

Name: Boone Logan

Rank: 221

Position: P

Years With White Sox: 2006-2008

Boone Logan joined the White Sox organization as their 20th round pick in the 2002 draft.  He made his major league debut against the Indians on April 4, 2006, on the day the majority of his teammates received their World Series rings.  Logan ended up splitting time between the White Sox and Charlotte, finishing with a very disappointing 8.31 ERA for the big league club.

2007 saw Logan spending the majority of the year in the major leagues, appearing in 68 games for the disappointing White Sox squad that lost 90 games.  He managed to lower his ERA to a still enlarged 4.97.

While the White Sox rebounded to win the AL Central in 2008, Logan continued to struggle, with an ERA that jumped back up to 5.95.  Logan did not appear in the Division Series, which the Sox dropped to the Rays in 4 games.  Following the season, Logan was packaged with Javier Vazquez to the Braves in the deal that brought Tyler Flowers, Brent Lillibridge, and two others back to the White Sox.

Logan’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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