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The biggest White Sox killers of 2016

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Even if Brian Dozier departs the American League, plenty others are hanging around

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Brian Dozier trade rumors are to the Minnesota Twins what the Jose Quintana trade rumors are to the Chicago White Sox. He’s a great player who is likely to help his current team more via a trade, and there should be a robust market for his services, but man, it’s developing slowly.

In Dozier’s case, the Los Angeles Dodgers make the most sense and have led the theoretical rumor mill, but outside parties — led by the Cardinals -- might finally be turning up the heat.

I’ve been monitoring this one, because it’d be nice to see Dozier out of the American League, or at least out of the Central. He’s tormented Sox lefties of late, and it reminded me that I hadn’t yet looked at his company the way I did with Nori Aoki two years ago.

Maybe I just didn’t want to see the wreckage left by Josh Donaldson in 2015. He set the standard for Sox-killing for his disassembling of David Robertson. He hit .480/.548/.1.320 with six homers and seven games, and also walked four times to just one strikeout over 31 plate appearances. That 1.868 OPS against the White Sox is the second-highest of any player with 20 PA against them. Good luck topping that. Only Bobby Grich figured out how, and he went 18-for-25 (.720/.781/1.240) against the Steve Christmas-led 1984 White Sox to make that happen.

That said, while nobody even approached the bar set by Donaldson the year before, it was a fertile year for Sox-killing on the whole. Eight different players faced Sox pitching 20 or more times and came away with an OPS above 1.100, which hadn’t happened since 2010.

Dozier makes that list. He led all hitters with eight homers against the White Sox in 2016, even though he left two games on the table. He hit .373/.439/.847, with five of those homers off Carlos Rodon (three) and Jose Quintana. That’s good for a 1.287 OPS, which would normally be easy top-three material in most recent seasons.

This time, though, Dozier didn’t even crack the top five in OPS against the White Sox in 2016. You have to go back to the sillyball days of 2004 and 2002 to find a Sox-killing list that top-heavy.

Here are the five who beat out Dozier, with some thumbnail season profiles below the leaderboard:

Rk Player G OPS PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Manny Machado 7 1.438 34 9 15 3 0 4 14 2 4 .469 .500 .938 1.438
2 Ian Desmond 6 1.435 28 7 10 1 1 2 7 6 4 .455 .571 .864 1.435
3 J.D. Martinez 14 1.400 59 14 23 10 0 3 11 9 11 .469 .542 .857 1.400
4 Chase Headley 6 1.317 21 5 6 1 0 3 6 3 4 .333 .429 .889 1.317
5 Brandon Guyer 10 1.297 36 6 15 2 0 2 6 2 5 .484 .556 .742 1.297

Manny Machado: The Baltimore third baseman did most of his heavy lifting on Aug. 7, when he homered in his first three trips to the plate and drove in seven runs. Perhaps he should get an asterisk next to his name since he victimized James Shields for two and Matt Albers for the other while going 0-for-3 against Tommy Kahnle, Carson Fulmer and Michael Ynoa, but it all counts the same for now.

Ian Desmond: He was one of the driving forces behind Texas’ big comebacks that started the Sox’ 2016 slide, coming through with a big triple in the 13-11 shocker, then contributing the tying and go-ahead runs the next day. Maybe he was angry at the White Sox for not signing him toward the end of the offseason despite the obvious fit. Or maybe it’s because the White Sox didn’t face him during his ugly second half. Or maybe because Desmond’s bad baserunning set the Sox’ first triple play of the season into motion, and he wanted the last laugh. He was 4-for-4 in the stolen-base department with an error forced against Sox catchers.

J.D. Martinez: Considering he maintained a 1.400 OPS against the White Sox over 59 plate appearances — 25 more than Machado — he might deserve the title. He also saved his best work for Chris Sale. He hit a go-ahead two-run shot against the Condor in the sixth inning on June 4, which he later topped with a pinch-hit go-ahead homer in the eighth inning on Aug. 3. That one came on the first pitch he saw returning from injury.

Chase Headley: Headley is the one who is not like this others on this list, as he’s coming off an underwhelming offensive season. He cracked the list by homering in three of the five games he started against the White Sox. In the one he didn’t start, he delivered a game-tying pinch-hit double off Albers.

Brandon Guyer: He hit the Sox better as a Tampa Bay Ray, but it’s not like he lost much after the deadline deal took him to Cleveland.

  • w/TB: .500/.615/.800, 5-for-10, 1 HR, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP
  • w/CLE: .476/.522/.714, 10-for-21, 2 2B, 1 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 HBP

White Sox pitchers plunked him three times in 10 games to boost that OBP, but that’s part of Guyer’s game. He’s led the league in HBPs in each of the last two seasons, including a whopping 31 last year. Now that Guyer figures heavily into the Indians’ full-season plans, it’ll be a contest with Sox pitching to see which one can be the bigger pain in the ass.