Originally Posted by Tragg
Look at those names and you'll find your real answer. It's not payroll, it's organization. Three of those players came up in the Sox organization. The fourth was a trade for a player of a similar background (1 or 2 years in the majors, one off year).
Has the Sox organization produced any hitters like that since then?
Frank Thomas was a once-in-a-generation type hitter. Not only did he rank amongst the game's most dangerous power hitters, but he also hit above .300, and had the best batting eye in the American League. When he was at his best, he was perhaps the most dangerous hitter on the entire planet, a distinction shared only by Barry Bonds, a known cheater. The only thing that will keep Thomas- a deserving first-ballot HOF'er- out of Cooperstown next winter is the incompetence of the baseball writers. His numbers more than warrant his inclusion amongst the game's elite. Only Manny Ramirez Albert Pujols, and Miguel Cabrera have approached his level of production from the right side, so expecting them to produce a hitter of that magnitude is probably asking too much. Let's look at the other guys listed.
Magglio Ordonez was one of the best outfielders in the American League, and posted near-MVP caliber numbers when he was at his best. I'd compare him to someone like Matt Holiday (when younger), or perhaps a less talented Justin Upton or Matt Kemp. Each of these men has played to at least an AS level in his career. It's easier to find these types of players than it is a HOF'er like Frank, but still difficult.
Paul Konerko has been one of the most consistent run-producers in baseball for the past fifteen years. It's hard to pick out his best season, because each year seems to look like the one before it, which is a testament to Konerko's longevity. Just the other day, he moved past Frank Thomas on the White Sox all-time hit list. He reminds me of a right-handed Fred McGriff in that he's almost always been productive, but he's never been more than a peripheral MVP candidate, and his numbers are somewhat inflated by his long career. Be that as it may, it's hard to find players who are as consistent and durable as Konerko, who deserves to have his number retired when his career is over.
Carlos Lee was often viewed as the third or fourth wheel of the Sox offense behind Thomas, Ordonez, and Konerko. He was an excellent hitter when he was swinging the bat well, but much of his success hinged upon where he was hitting in the lineup. He did his best work in 2003, when he hit directly in front of Frank Thomas, somewhat ironic given that Frank actually compared Carlos to himself when Lee joined the team as a rookie in 1999. Carlos never approach Frank's production, however, largely due to a poor approach at the plate, perhaps the most significant reason for his inconsistency as a hitter.
There seem to be similarities between Carlos and Dayan Viciedo, though the Tank is even less disciplined than Lee, who could be patient enough to take walks if he didn't see a pitch he liked. Like El Caballo, Viciedo will probably never be the centerpiece of the Sox offense, but he will be counted on for production. Can he provide that production on a consistent basis? Only time will tell.