Success at bat has been Tim Anderson’s ticket to becoming the White Sox’ first American League All-Star starter at shortstop in 52 years.
That hasn’t always been the case for Sox shortstop stars. The main asset for Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio, the last Sox shortstop to start the All-Star Game, is that he was one of the best defensive shortstops in history.
With a nod toward National League All-Star starter Willson Contreras and other Cubs catchers, let’s focus this week on All-Star starters among Sox shortstops.
Anderson: In his seventh season with the Sox, Anderson leads AL shortstops with a .318 batting average (through Sunday). Taking extra bases, walks and other factors into account, his weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 126 signifies offensive production 26% higher than average.
Defense is another matter. He is at minus-1 defensive runs saved, as tracked by Baseball Info Solutions. An average shortstop has 0. The difference is narrow enough and the sample small enough to say Anderson has been an average defensive shortstop.
At the beginning of his career, Anderson had wRC+ of 98, 79 and 85. But he turned on the offense starting in 2019, with star-level 128, 141, 120 and now 126.
Aparicio: Defensive runs saved aren’t available for older players. But by defensive WAR at Baseball-Reference.com, Aparicio’s 31.9 — 20.1 for the Sox and 11.8 for the Orioles — is fifth at short behind Ozzie Smith (44.2), Mark Belanger (39.5), Cal Ripken Jr. (35.7) and Joe Tinker (34.3).
Offensively, Aparicio is remembered as the man who put the ‘‘go’’ in the 1959 AL champion ‘‘Go-Go White Sox.’’ He led the AL in steals nine times, with a high of 56 in 1959. Overall, offense was not his strength. He hit .262/.311/.343 for a .653 OPS and 83 wRC+.
It was defense and baserunning that made ‘‘Little Looie’’ an All-Star starter in 1958, 1959 and 1970 and an All-Star reserve three times for the Sox and twice for the Orioles.
Chico Carrasquel: The first in a line of Sox from Venezuela who include Aparicio, Ozzie Guillen, Magglio Ordonez and many more, Carrasquel arrived in 1950, stayed through 1955, then played four seasons for three other teams.
Third in Rookie of the Year voting when he hit .282/.368/.365 for a career-best .733 OPS, Carrasquel was an All-Star starter in 1953 and 1954 and a reserve in 1951 and 1955. His wRC+ was a nondescript 87 in his Sox years and 85 overall.
On defense, Carrasquel sparkled. His 13.9 dWAR with the Sox is fifth among South Side shortstops after Guillen (21.3 in 13 seasons), Aparicio (20.1 in 10), Luke Appling (19.1 in 20) and George Davis (15.2 in seven).
Appling: As mentioned above, Appling is third among Sox shortstops in dWAR. Offensively, he’s the leader with 115 wRC+ off .310/.399/.398 hitting.
Appling’s 72.6 Fangraphs WAR tops not only Sox shortstops, but it also beats Frank Thomas’ 68.1 for the Sox’ best at all positions.
The AL starting shortstop in 1936 and 1940 and a reserve five more times, Appling is a serious contender for the best player in Sox history.