The Worst White Sox Players Of My Lifetime: Pitchers Edition


I didn't originally plan on nearly a week passing between my Worst White Sox Position Players post and the pitcher's version going up, but, hey, sometimes life just works out that way.

Fret no longer, though, my friends, for the list is finally here.

The worst White Sox pitchers of my lifetime (1981-present) ranked! In order! By bWAR! Relive the terrible memories of hanging curveballs, and 8-1 losses. These were the pitchers who strengthened your resolve as a White Sox fan, and helped mold you into the strong, loyal fan that you are today.

Now is the time to give them your thanks.

t-8. Jose Segura (1988-1989), -1.2 WAR

Jose Segura did not spend much time pitching in a White Sox uniform, but man did he make an impact. Over the course of two seasons Segura only pitched 14.2 innings for the Sox, and in those 14.2 innings, Segura allowed 28 runs (23 earned), 32 hits, gave up three home runs, walked 11 guys, and intentionally walked another.

All of which added up to a 14.11 ERA and a 2.932 WHIP.

Please take a moment to tip your cap to a man that did so much damage in less than 15 innings that he ended up on this list.

t-8. Tony Castillo (1996-1998), -1.2 WAR

Castillo had an okay career as a reliever before being traded to the White Sox in August of 1996. In 437.1 innings before the trade (with Atlanta and Toronto) Castillo had an ERA of 3.54 and a FIP of 3.97. Following the trade to the Sox, Castillo was fantastic over the last six weeks of the season. He pitched 22.2 innings, and had an ERA of 1.59. The performance was enough to lead to the Sox signing him to a two-year deal worth $2.5 million following the season.

And then shit went bad.

Over the next two seasons Castillo would have an ERA of 5.84 in 89.1 innings.

He'd then be released in June of 1998.

t-8. Andre Rienzo (2013-2014), -1.2 WAR

Andre Rienzo was a nice story because he was the first Brazilian-born baseball player to reach the Majors, but while the story was nice, the pitcher wasn't exactly great. Yeah, Rienzo ate some innings on some bad White Sox teams, filling in as a starter for a while, but the production just wasn't there.

He appeared in 28 games for the Sox, starting 21 of them, and had an ERA of 5.89 in 120.2 innings. He also had a penchant for giving up the long ball, giving up 23 home runs in a short period of time.

You know, it's typically not good to have a 3.9-to-1 strikeout-to-home run allowed ratio.

t-6. Adam Peterson (1987-1990), -1.3 WAR

I don't remember a damn thing about Adam Peterson, and for good reason. From 1987 to 1989 he only appeared in six games for the Sox, starting five of them, and posting an ERA of 14.09.

For some reason the White Sox thought that performance would be worth a larger role in 1990, as Peterson appeared in 20 games, starting 11 of them. Honestly, his overall numbers in 1990 weren't terrible, as he had an ERA of 4.55, but that's not the number that truly stands out to me.

He had a K/9 of 3.1 in 1990, and 3.4 in his White Sox career.

But you know what? As horrible as Peterson was, he was very useful to the White Sox. A few weeks before the 1991 season he was traded to the San Diego Padres with Steve Rosenberg. The White Sox got three players in return, one of whom was Kevin Garner, who'd never get out of the minors.

The other two players were Joey Cora and The Deacon himself, Warren Newson.

t-6. Scott Ruffcorn (1993-1996), -1.3 WAR

From 1987 to 1990 the White Sox had four first round selections in the MLB Draft. With those four picks they took Jack McDowell, Robin Ventura, Frank Thomas and Alex Fernandez. Four of the best players in franchise history.

In 1991, with the 25th pick, the White Sox took Scott Ruffcorn.

All good things must come to an end.

The Sox did everything they could to make Ruffcorn work, but over four seasons he only pitched 30.2 innings in the bigs, and had an ERA of 9.68. The Phillies would buy his rights from the Sox before the 1997 season, and he'd pitch 40 innings for them that season before fading into obscurity, but also starting a new trend of failed White Sox first round picks.

5. Ronald Belisario (2014), -1.4 WAR

Ronald Belisario was one of those minor free agent signings that I was a big fan of at the time. He came to the White Sox after spending four good seasons with the Dodgers. An extreme ground ball pitcher, Belisario had an ERA of 3.29 and had only allowed 16 home runs in 265 career innings.

Unfortunately, when he put on that White Sox uniform, he had White Sox players behind him. While Belisario didn't miss as many bats with the Sox as he did in Los Angeles, he also cut down his walk rate, it's just, all those ground balls he gave up kept finding holes.

The result was an ERA of 5.56 in 66.1 innings, and the man called Belly for reasons other than his name was let go after the season. He hooked up with the Rays last year, but pitched only eight innings with them before being released there as well.

4. Rod Bolton (1993-1995), -1.6 WAR

Another pitcher that I don't remember at all, but he obviously made an impact. He started 11 games with the Sox in two seasons (he wasn't around in 1994), and had an ERA of 7.69 in 64.1 innings. He also mentioned to walk more hitters (30) than he struck out (27) in his time.

He was not good!

3. Todd Ritchie (2002), -1.7 WAR

In 2001, Todd Ritchie had an all right season with the Pirates. He pitched 207 innings with a 4.47 ERA, but at the time, a 4.47 ERA wasn't horrible. It was actually enough for a 102 ERA+. A few years before that, in 1999, Ritchie had an excellent season with the Pirates, going 15-9 with a 3.49 ERA. But following that 2001 season Ritchie was approaching free agency, and even though he didn't strike out a lot of hitters, the White Sox decided this was somebody they needed.

So they sent Josh Fogg, Sean Lowe and Kip Wells (three players!) to the Pirates for Ritchie. Had this trade took place in the time of sports blogs and Twitter, we'd have all ripped it to shreds, pointing out all the reasons it was a terrible deal.

And we'd have all been right.

In his season with the White Sox, Ritchie was awful. His traditional stats were a record of 5-15 with an ERA of 6.06, and it didn't get much better anywhere else. He allowed nearly 12 hits per nine innings, while striking out only 77 hitters in 134 innings. He was just so bad, and he only cost $3.5 million and one White Sox first round pick (Wells) as well as a third (Fogg). Neither Fogg or Wells went on to be amazing, but combined, the two of them were worth 13.2 WAR with the Pirates in their careers.

Or 14.9 WAR more than Ritchie brought to the Sox.

2. John Davis (1988-1989), -2.4 WAR

John Davis was forgettable both for his name and his performance. He originally came to the Sox along with both Melido Perez and Greg Hibbard from the Royals in a trade for Floyd Bannister.

While he spent parts of two seasons in the White Sox bullpen, he only pitched six innings with the White Sox in 1989. He wasn't good in those six innings, but he did the vast majority of his damage in 1988.

In 63.2 innings that season, Davis posted an ERA of 6.64, a FIP of 5.17, allowed nearly 11 hits per nine innings, and had 50 walks to go with 37 strikeouts. Seriously, he walked 7.1 hitters per nine innings, which is not ideal to say the least.

Oh, and just in case those 50 walks weren't enough, he also intentionally walked 10 other batters. I'm guessing most of those came after an extra-base hit left runners at second and third, as Jim Fregosi was just trying to "set up the double play." Double plays that I'm sure never came.

1. Jaime Navarro (1997-1999), -3.7 WAR

I think any one of us that has been paying attention for a while knew who was going to be in this spot. After all, the biggest reason Jerry Reinsdorf doesn't give long-term contracts to free agent pitchers -- and probably free agents in general -- is because of Jaime Navarro.

Navarro was never a stud in his first eight seasons as a pitcher, but he was a bit of a workhorse, as he pitched 437 innings in two seasons with the Cubs before becoming a free agent in the winter of 1996.

It was on December 11, 1996 that the White Sox signed Navarro to a four-year, $20 million deal. At the time the contract was large, as it allowed a player to buy many an onion to wear on his belt, which was the style at the time.

Anyway, long story short, Navarro would not be worth the money.

In three seasons on the Sox he'd pitch 542 innings with an ERA of 6.06. During the 1997 season he'd allow more hits (267) and earned runs (135) than any other pitcher in baseball, and he'd also lead the league in wild pitches with 14. In 1998 he would only repeat as wild pitch champion, throwing 18.

I mean, what it all boiled down to was in his first eight seasons, Navarro had thrown 1,480 innings, and his arm was basically toast when the White Sox signed him, but as horrible as Navarro's tenure was, it did have a happy ending.

Before the final season on his contract he'd be traded back to the Brewers, where he began his career. In return the White Sox would get Cal Eldred and Jose Valentin. Eldred would be kind of useful over two seasons, but Jose Valentin would prove to be awesome, hitting 136 homers in five years with the Sox.

So, in the end, whether he knew it or not, Jerry got his money's worth out of Jaime Navarro, but good luck trying to convince him of that.

Comments

  1. Dude - you totally whiffed here, unlike a batter facing the pre-season #2 starter of the 1993 White Sox - Kirk McCaskill. On a division winning team he managed a -0.6 bWAR and only thanks to the unexpected emergence of Jason Bere and the mid-season acquisition of Tim Belcher were we spared from him starting all season. While, McCaskill managed to have a cumulative -0.3 bWAR from '92-'96, less than anyone on your list, it was only because he was relegated to the bullpen. So I believe, the expectations of him being a #2 starter and the fact that he was on some of the best WSox teams ever, easily makes him worthy of being on your list.

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  2. Scott Ruffcorn selection was the first for Ron Schueler as GM after Larry Himes had been fired. Amazing the worthless picks the Sox made after that while passing up guys like David Wright, Adam Jones, Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Donaldson, Gerrit Cole, AND Mike Trout.

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  3. Good to see Belisario on that list. I think in 2014 I changed some foul language to just using his last name instead!

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  4. Was honestly surprised to NOT see Charlie Haeger on this list!

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    Replies
    1. Or Jim Parque. Or was he just to mediocre to even be interestingly bad?

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  5. Re: Andre Rienzo

    It should be noted that he was not the first Brazilian born player to reach the majors. That title goes to Yan Gomes of the Blue Jays (now of the Indians). Rienzo was in fact the first Brazilian born pitcher to start and win a game in the majors.

    Anyways, from a Jays fan, good luck to the Sox (except, you know... when facing Toronto).

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  6. Scott Ruffcorn--30 big league appearances, in which his club was...0-30. Thank you, Scott.

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