The biggest Sox comeback seasons in the last 20 years


The biggest Sox comeback seasons in the last 20 years

The White Sox had three players put together outstanding comeback seasons this year, but none of them won the AL Comeback Player of the Year. Alex Rios, Adam Dunn and Jake Peavy can thank Rays closer Fernando Rodney for breaking an MLB ERA record, netting him the honor.

Jim Thome won AL Comeback Player of the year in 2006, the second year of the award's existence. Generally, the honor goes to a previously-established player who's coming off an injury-plagued andor down year and rebounds to a successful level, which pretty well describes Thome's 2005 and 2006.

But looking through the last 20 years, Thome's bounce-back in 2006 wasn't the best among White Sox players. That title goes to the guy who arguably had the best case of the trio of Sox players to win the award this year.

Below is a list of players who have rebounded from down years with the White Sox. We're going by Baseball-Reference's WAR here, and cutting things off at 3 from one year to the next. Young players who had breakout years -- like John Danks in 2008 -- and journeymen veterans who did the same -- like Esteban Loaiza in 2003 -- aren't in this conversation.

With all that in mind, here's the list:

Alex Rios, 2011-2012: 6.3 WAR
2011: -2.1
2012: 4.2

Rios went from .227.265.348, 13 home runs and below-average defense in center field to .304.334.516, 25 home runs and above-average defense in right. His resurgence didn't get the attention of Dunn's 40 homers or Peavy's Cy Young bid, but it was just as -- if not more -- important to the success of the White Sox in 2012.

Albert Belle: 5.1 WAR
1997: 1.9
1998: 7.0

Belle became the highest-paid player in baseball when he signed a five-year, 55 million deal after the 1996 season, but turned a major down year by his standards in 1997. He regained his status as an elite hitter in 1998 and left as a free agent after the year, invoking a clause which gave him that right if he wasn't one of the three highest-paid players in baseball at the time.

Jose Valentin: 4.7 WAR
1999: 0.0
2000: 4.7

The White Sox run to an AL Central title in 2000 couldn't have happened without the shrewd trade to acquire Valentin and Cal Eldred from Milwaukee for Jamie Navarro and John Snyder. Valentin only played in 89 games in 1999, but was healthy in 2000 and hit 25 home runs with 19 stolen bases.

Jim Thome: 4.5 WAR
2005: 0.1
2006: 4.6

Thome actually won comeback player of the year honors in 2006, his first year with the White Sox after being displaced by Ryan Howard in Philadelphia. After nagging injuries limited Thome to 59 games in 2005, he hit 42 home runs with a 1.014 OPS for the 90-win White Sox in 2006.

Jermaine Dye: 4.3 WAR
2007: -1.9
2008: 2.4

Despite being banged up and struggling a bit at the plate, Dye was the subject of plenty of trade rumors as the Sox floundered in the summer of 2007. But the Sox signed him to a two-year extension that August, and he rewarded the team with a solid 2008 to help the Sox win the AL Central.

Jake Peavy: 4.1 WAR
2011: 0.9
2012: 5.0

In the final year of his contract, Peavy turned in his best year since winning the NL Cy Young in 2007. He started 30 games and threw 219 innings with a 3.37 ERA after posting a 4.92 ERA over just 111 23 innings in 2011.

Adam Dunn: 4.0 WAR
2011: -3.1
2012: 0.9

While 2012 didn't turn out to be vintage Dunn -- his OBP was just .333, 48 points lower than his 2001-2010 average -- he did hit 41 home runs and looked far more together at the plate than in 2011, which looks like one big aberration at this point.

Mark Buehrle: 3.9 WAR
2006: 2.0
2007: 5.9

Buehrle was lit up in 2006, allowing 36 home runs and finishing with a career-worst 4.99 ERA. But he was back to his usual self in 2007, posting a 3.63 ERA over 201 innings.

Frank Thomas: 3.8 WAR
1999: 2.0
2000: 5.8

Thomas finished second in AL MVP voting behind Jason Giambi in 2000 -- something which still has plenty of White Sox fans sore -- after setting career highs with 43 home runs and 143 RBIs. The year before, though, Thomas hit a then-career-low 15 home runs and failed to drive in 100 runs for the first time in his career.

Robin Ventura: 3.6 WAR
1997: 1.9
1998: 5.5

A gruesome ankle injury limited Ventura to 54 games in the year of the white flag trade, but he put together a fine campaign (21 HR, .263.349.436) in 1998 to close out his playing career with the White Sox.

Roberto Hernandez: 3.6 WAR
1995: 0.4
1996: 4.0

A decent 1995 gave way to one of the best years for a reliever in White Sox history, as Hernandez compiled a 1.91 ERA and only allowed two home runs in 84 23 innings.

Carlos Quentin: 3.4 WAR
2009: -0.8
2010: 2.6

After a breakout year in 2008, a banged-up Quentin struggled in 2009, posting a .779 OPS. But he played in a career-high 131 games in 2010 and hit 26 home runs, pacing the White Sox' torrid stretch in June and July.

Javier Vazquez: 3.4 WAR
2006: 2.5
2007: 5.9

Vazquez turned in his best year with the Sox in 2007, posting a 3.74 ERA with 213 strikeouts in 216 23 innings. That was, however, sandwiched between ERAs of 4.84 in 2006 and 4.67 in 2008.

A few others: Kevin Tapani (3.3, 19951996), Darrin Jackson (3.1, 19931994)

With Ben Zobrist sidelined by sore wrist, Cubs move Ian Happ to second base

With Ben Zobrist sidelined by sore wrist, Cubs move Ian Happ to second base

LOS ANGELES – The Cubs drafted and developed Ian Happ with the idea of turning him into a Ben Zobrist-type player who would move quickly through the farm system and surface as a versatile big-league contributor and/or legitimate trade chip.

With Zobrist sidelined because of a sore left wrist, the Cubs got their first look at Happ playing second base in The Show during Saturday’s 5-0 loss at Dodger Stadium. That kind of depth – plugging in a 2015 first-round pick while a World Series MVP rests – should ultimately propel the Cubs over the course of a 162-game season.

Even as the Cubs stutter-step through a 25-23 start, there are enough choices for the best defensive second baseman on the team and a National League Championship Series co-MVP (Javier Baez) to sit on the bench.

“We know that the talent’s there,” Zobrist said. “It’s not like having any one or two guys out of the lineup is a big drop-off for us because of the talent that’s there. And we know that just because we have a lot of young players doesn’t mean that they’re not extremely capable of doing the job as well.”

Zobrist – who’s reached base in 23 straight games and emerged as a new leadoff option with Kyle Schwarber struggling – felt something on an awkward swing in the first inning of Friday’s 4-0 loss to the Dodgers. Zobrist played through it that night and called it a “day-to-day thing” that didn’t require an MRI.

[MORE: Is Joe Maddon turning Kyle Schwarber into a platoon player?

Facing Clayton Kershaw on Sunday after back-to-back shutouts will be a game-time decision.

“It’s tough,” Zobrist said. “We just haven’t strung together enough quality at-bats to score runs the last two games. It’s not just because of us. They’ve pitched well. Their pitchers are pretty hot right now. They’ve spotted up. They’ve gotten early strikes where they needed to and then gone to work pretty well on us.

“The task doesn’t get any easier tomorrow with Kershaw. We just got to keep trying to chip away.”

Morning Update: White Sox officially announce signing of Luis Robert, split doubleheader

Morning Update: White Sox officially announce signing of Luis Robert, split doubleheader

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Saturday: 

Preview: Cubs look to avoid getting swept by Dodgers today on CSN

Preview: Knights look to bounce back tonight on CSN

White Sox courting of Luis Robert leads to 'Christmas in May'

Cubs blanked again by Dodgers

Tyler Danish gets win in first big league start as White Sox beat Tigers in first game of doubleheader

After getting shut down by Buck Farmer, White Sox ninth-inning rally falls short

Scott Boras fires back at Jake Arrieta’s critics and makes another Max Scherzer comparison

Blackhawks sign defenseman Michal Kempny to extension

Luis Robert will start journey through White Sox organization in Dominican Summer League

With Ben Zobrist sidelined by sore wrist, Cubs move Ian Happ to second base