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Today in White Sox History: November 22

A big award, and a crucial re-signing

Minneapolis, MN., Wednesday, 6/25/2003. Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago White Sox. (right) Chicago’s Jose Valentin celebrated his home run shot that scored two other runs in the fourth inning to put Chicago up 5 to 1.
You’d be pleased, too, if you’d just signed the contract José Valentín did, on this day 22 years ago.


Slugger Ron Kittle took home the AL Rookie of the Year. The news broke a day earlier than intended, as WBBM in Chicago got word of the BBWAA’s call to Kittle the night before the announcement and got the story out.

After a cup of coffee in 1982, the Gary, Ind. native exploded for 35 home runs and 100 RBIs, slashing .254/.314/.504. Kittle fell just two shy of the AL rookie record for home runs, set by Al Rosen in 1950.

A majors-leading 150 Ks and poor defense in left field dragged Kittle’s WAR down to 1.9, but those negatives didn’t dissuade voters, who gave him 15 of 28 first-place votes. Cleveland’s Julio Franco was the runner-up, but the player cheated most by this vote was Baltimore’s Mike Boddicker, who logged 4.1 WAR but finished third in voting.

Kittle’s career would get no better, as 1983 was his career year and the only season of his 10 in the bigs in which he played more than 139 games. He was signed and traded away two separate times by the White Sox, but over seven seasons at Comiskey Park, Kittle hit seven rooftop homers — more than any other player.


Despite fielding better offers from several teams, José Valentín re-signed with the White Sox for three years and $15.2 million, plus a fourth-year option at $5 million. It was a huge coup for the White Sox, who had pickpocketed Milwaukee in January by lifting José and Cal Eldred for Jaime Navarro and John Snyder.

Valentín put up an extraordinary 4.9 WAR season in 2000, helping lead the White Sox to the AL Central title. He followed that with 12.0 WAR from 2001 to 2004, making this contract a value steal for the White Sox.

The shortstop remains one of the more underrated players in team history. His 16.9 WAR with the White Sox ties him for 37th-best in franchise history, basically right between Tim Anderson and Tim Raines.