Originally Posted by RKMeibalane
You're right, although I remember Franco having a good 1994 campaign. Finding someone to hit behind Frank seemed to be a yearly chore for the White Sox. Sammy Sosa hadn't discovered Flintstone vitamins, yet. Ventura didn't like it (so he hit fifth), and George Bell was too old. John Kruk waited until his batting average was higher than Mickey Mantle before he decided to quit, and Chris Sabo was just plain awful. Danny Tartabull hit home runs, but provided little else. Lyle Mouton was memorable only because his name was Lyle Mouton (Hawk insisted on trying five or six different pronunciations of his last name).
The Sox didn't finally find a good compliment for Thomas until Albert Belle came along, but that was right before Frank started to slip (coinciding with the arrival of Jerry "The Tinkerer" Manuel in 1998), and even that lasted only two seasons before Belle ended up in Baltimore. Magglio Ordonez was probably the best cleanup hitter Frank played with, but Frank wasn't quite the same by the time Magglio was protecting him, as age and injury had begun to slow him down.
I guess I should have been more clear, because I believed at the time that the Sox should have re-signed Franco for 1995, specifically because he was such a great complement to Frank. I think we pretty much agree on everything else.
Frank had a great 1997 (batting title, second-best OPS+) with Belle protecting him.
Then he had a strange two-year "slump" in 98 and 99, which would have been career years for most other players. He deserved the MVP in 2000, missed most of 2001, had an .834 OPS in 2002, and, although plagued by injuries, never had a sub-.900 OPS season in his remaining seasons with the Sox.
Put Franco behind him for 95 and 96, and don't tinker with him in 98 and 99, and I think his already first-ballot HOF career would be even more ridiculous.