Since 1999, the Chicago White Sox have had four second-place finishes in team standings and four second-place finishes in individual award voting. If history is to be our guide, next year’s shortstop suddenly has his work cut out for him:
2000: Frank Thomas loses in MVP voting to vaguely self-admitted juicer Jason Giambi of the Oakland Athletics. Thomas has since battled injury, front office personnel, free agency and being outright released by the Blue Jays. Although the big man hit his 500th home run, few would argue he’s the same player he once was (and many would say it’s time to call it a day).
2003: Esteban Loaiza finishes second to Roy Halladay thanks to a poor showing down the stretch. Loaiza followed up his stellar season with a run-of-the-mill 2004 that saw him traded to the Yankees for brief superstar Jose Contreras. Contreras turned in two of the finest half-seasons of pitching Sox fans have ever witnessed, bookended by five of the worst and a likely career-ending injury sustained while covering a routine play at first. Loaiza returned to the South Side briefly this past summer, but everyone’s hopes of Stevie Southside returning to prominence were dashed before you can say “didn’t make it out of the minors this time.”
2004: Mr. Zero himself, Shingo Takatsu receives one first-place vote while A’s shortstop Bobby Crosby somehow wows the sportswriters with a .239 average for Rookie of the Year honors. After a few early shellings in 2005, Takatsu was replaced as closer by Dustin Hermanson, who in turn conceded the job to Bobby Jenks, meaning in a five month span the Sox slammed the door via a 65-mph frisbee tosser, a high 80s workhorse and a triple-digit flamethrower. Four seasons later, Crosby’s average sits at exactly .239 while Shingo is long gone from American baseball after stints with the Mets and the Cubs.
2008: Alexei Ramirez’ two awful months to start the season cost him Rookie of the Year honors, but for the time being we can say he at least solves the problem of either Juan Uribe or Orlando Cabrera (or, in a total emergency, Nick Swisher). But we’ll talk about it again when Aaron Poreda finishes second in the 2010 Cy Young poll.