Alexei Ramirez signed last week with the San Diego Padres, meaning he won’t play his entire career as a member of the Chicago White Sox. This probably displeases Ramirez, and most certainly displeases White Sox fans. When you factor in that the deal was a modest one-year contract for $4 million, it makes Sox fans downright angry.
Ramirez debuted in 2008 and has been one of the better shortstops in baseball over that time, including some of the best defense around. But his decline had become apparent, and he is going to be 34 on opening day, not the best age for a defense first player.
This piece isn’t about whether or not he should have been brought back though, it’s about where his place in White Sox history lies.
The White Sox don’t have a huge collection of position players who stick out, and guys like Luke Appling, Eddie Collins and Ray Schalk all played before most current White Sox fans were born. Ramirez played 1226 games, which is less than all of the aforementioned guys, and more recent players like Paul Konerko, Frank Thomas, Harold Baines, Ozzie Guillen, Robin Ventura and others. But 1226 games is still good enough for 16th all-time. He played more games in a Sox uniform than Ray Durham, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos May, Bill Melton, Lance Johnson or many others.
He is actually 12th all-time in hits for the Sox, ahead of both Ventura and Carlton Fisk. One more season would have put him in the top 10. Although his power would come and go, he is still 18th all-time in home runs, just four behind Greg Walker. He is also 14th all-time in doubles.
He was far from a great hitter, but for a shortstop he was borderline great. He was definitely a better hitter than Ozzie or Aparicio were. He probably wasn’t as good of a fielder as Ozzie was though. And it’s hard to hold up against Appling’s sparkling career.
That all makes sense though. No one is going to call Alexei the greatest shortstop in White Sox history. With Appling and Aparicio in the discussion most people over the age of 45 would probably laugh at the mere mention of it, and they would be right. But it’s likely he pushes Ozzie or Buck Weaver off the Mount Rushmore of White Sox shortstops. And overall amongst position players who played a major chunk of their career in this millennium, only Konerko and Thomas contributed more.
The fact that he arrived after the 2005 team, and had a more meek personality than A.J. Pierzynski (both played 9 seasons and their offensive sstats are very similar) probably mask some of his contributions over the last 10 years. He isn’t a hall of famer, and he won’t have his number retired anytime soon, but he deserves to be remembered as one of the White Sox’s best shortstops ever, and a linchpin in the post-World Sseries decade.
Good luck in San Diego Alexei. Fans in Chicago will miss you.