The 10 best games of Frank Thomas' career

The 10 best games of Frank Thomas' career
January 8, 2014, 9:15 am
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A quick note on Win Probability Added (WPA), since that's the measure used to determine this list. At its core, WPA measures how much each play over the course of a game game adds or subtracts to a given team's chances of winning that game. The inning is taken into account as are the position of runners on base. Read more about it here, but the basic gist: Over the course of a game, adding up a player's WPA for his at-bats gives you an idea of how much of an impact he had on winning or losing a game. For instance, if Frank Thomas has a .430 WPA, that means he increased the White Sox chances of winning that game by 43 percent.

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It's worth noting, too, that Thomas' best 10 games by WPA all came with the White Sox -- not Oakland or Toronto. Somewhat surprisingly, none of these games came in 2000 (one of Thomas' best years with the Sox) and only one came in 1993 (the first of Thomas' two AL MVPs).

All stats, box scores and game info courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

Bonus: Aug. 18, 2003 (White Sox 4, Angels 2): 2-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, .430 WPA. This game doesn't rank in Thomas' top 10 -- it's No. 12 -- but it was one of the coolest games the Big Hurt had with the White Sox. In a 4-2 win, Thomas drove in all four runs on a pair of two-run homers off Angels lefty Jarrod Washburn, with the second being a walk-off. Because Thomas' walk-off blast came in a tie game with a runner (Tony Graffanino) on third, it didn't have as great a WPA impact, since the Sox chances of winning were at 83 percent when Thomas stepped to the plate. Still, it's worthy of recognition here.

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10. June 16, 1991 (White Sox 9, Royals 3): 4-5, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI, .459 WPA. Thomas hit a three-run homer in the fifth to put the Sox ahead in the fifth, then drove in runs in the seventh and eighth to help pad the lead. But that three-run blast in the fifth improved the White Sox chances of winning by 34 percent, accounting for most of his total in this game.

9. Oct. 1, 1995 (White Sox 2, Twins 1): 1-4, HR, RBI, .486 WPA. In a classic pitcher's duel between Rich Robertson (9 IP, 5 H, 1 ER) and Alex Fernandez (10 IP, 5 H, 1 ER), Thomas sent the game to extras with a game-tying home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth. The two teams hadn't scored until the top of the ninth, when Marty Cordova drove in Chuck Knoblauch with a sacrifice fly -- but Thomas' first-pitch blast set up Robin Ventura's walk-off single in the 11th.

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8. Sept. 7, 2003 (White Sox 7, Indians 3): 1-3, HR, 3 RBI, .495 WPA. With the White Sox trailing 3-2 in the seventh, Thomas ripped a two-out, three-run homer off Indians reliever Danys Baez to put the Sox ahead, ultimately for good. That home run upped the Sox chances of winning by 50 percent.

7. Sept. 19, 2003 (White Sox 8, Royals 5): 3-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI, .501 WPA. A seventh-inning single of D.J. Carrasco tied things up at five, and Magglio Ordonez followed with a two-run homer to push the Sox to a win. But Thomas also contributed with a two-run double in the third, though that lead was ultimately squandered by starter Mark Buehrle.

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6. Aug. 19, 1992: (White Sox 3, Rangers 2) 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI, .508 WPA. Down 2-1 in the eighth, Thomas' two-out, two-run double off Rangers reliever Jeff Russell jumped the White Sox chances of winning from 30 percent to 86 percent. It was Thomas' lone hit of the game, but in a high-leverage spot it counted for plenty.

5. June 14, 2003 (White Sox 6, Padres 5): 1-3, HR, 2 RBI, .522 WPA. Thomas' eighth-inning two-run homer off San Diego's Jay Witasick upped the Sox chances of winning by 52 percent, and the Sox held on despite a rocky ninth inning from closer Billy Koch.

4. June 5, 2003 (White Sox 3, Diamondbacks 2): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, .571 WPA. Thomas' 10th-inning RBI double broke a 2-2 tie and had the greatest impact, but he tied the game in the sixth on a solo home run and added a single and a walk, too.

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3. July 2, 2003 (White Sox 8, Twins 6): 2-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI, .596 WPA. Things looked bleak after Bobby Kielty's go-ahead single off Koch in the top of the 11th, but a struggling Paul Konerko came off the bench and belted a solo home run off Eddie Guardado with two outs to tie the game. Ron Gardenhire left his closer in for another inning, and with two outs in the 12th Thomas hit a two-run, walk-off homer. His two-run homer off Kyle Lohse in the fourth sparked a comeback from a 4-0 deficit.

2. May 8, 1992 (White Sox 4, Orioles 3): 3-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, .619 WPA. Thomas led off the second with a solo homer off Mike Mussina, and tacked on another run in the sixth with an RBI single. But Kirk McCaskill couldn't hold a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth, and the game eventually slogged on to extra innings -- in which Thomas put the Sox ahead with a solo homer off Orioles reliever Gregg Olson in the 10th.

1. July 27, 1993 (White Sox 7, Indians 4): 4-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI, .699 WPA. This is probably the best game of Thomas' career -- at least, it's the one in which he had the greatest impact. Thomas singled in the third to cut the Sox deficit to 2-1, then homered in the sixth to slash Cleveland's lead to 4-2. But the big blow came an inning later, with the Sox down 4-3. With two outs, Thomas hit a three-run home run to put the Sox ahead for good.