I’ve been trying to put my finger on the White Sox home run problem for a half season now. Other than saying, “these dummies can’t hit the ball out of the ballpark”, or “WE HAVE INJURIES!!!” I’ve come up empty. We even used the gigantic platform that is the 108 podcast to tell Eloy that he must get his shit together when he comes back to the White Sox, because this shit is getting so damn bad.
BUT, I hadn’t given it a serious look until yesterday morning. I did some accountings and put them in some super unflattering excel graphics that MySoxSummer would hate. I wanted to run some comparison to see why the 2020 White Sox were a top 3 team in Home Runs and the 2022 White Sox are a bottom 5 team in Home Runs. WTF is going on!!?!?! But then yesterday happened.
White Sox 9 Twins 8 in 10 innings (3 BIG HOME RUNS!!!)
Then obviously I predicted Andrew Vaughn‘s home run, fuck you MSS!
Oh well, problem solved, right? Fuck that, I’m still going to drop these numbers and although we did have one day that looks like White Sox baseball, I think it’s worth further analysis.
Why don’t the 2022 White Sox hit HR’s like the 2020 White Sox?
First off, we need to level set what the home run environment looks like in 2022 and what it looked like in 2020. I am going to use Fangraphs stats to help me and take in the entire population of hitters (excluding pitchers). The table below was updated as of this morning, so after the White Sox home run barrage of yesterday.
The bottom line is that it was much easier to hit a home run in 2020, than it is in 2022. It took, on average 28.9 Plate Appearances to hit a home run in 2020, now in 2022 it takes (on average) 34.7 plate appearances to yank one (so to speak). In big round numbers, it’s about a 20% more difficult task than it was in 2020. Now that doesn’t mean much on it’s face, it’s harder for the collective group, not just our boys, so let’s dig deeper. Below is a table of how often our heroes dongered in 2020.
I used a cut-off of 100 plate appearances to try and tease out any weirdness in any individual batters. I also put up a % for above or below the 2020 league average that was noted in the previous table. This was Jose Abreu‘s MVP season. This was also the season that Ricky Renteria was adeptly using James McCann to his highest powers.
There are many, above average contributors on this list and only a few real downers, Mendick (to be expected), Moncada (COVID) and Mazara (typical Rick Hahn solution for Right Field). Otherwise, this group smashed. Now let’s look at 2022 to compare it.
That’s not great! Really only the guy who has had his fucking achilles tendon shredded multiple times is putting up an impressive above average home run clip. Let’s make some quick off-handed conclusions on this group to try and figure this out. One rule though….there’s an excuse you can’t use for this exercise.
NO BLAMING FRANK MENECHINO!!!
Look, I’m sure some of this is Frank Menechino‘s fault, but the discourse is too often that it’s ALL HIS FAULT. I probably place less blame on ole Frank than the median reader of this blog, but I just think if you won an MVP, a batting title, been an all-star or make 8 figures, you probably don’t put a ton of stock into what this man has to say about hitting. That’s just my 2 cents. And by that rationale, he’d get credit for Burger’s dongers (do any of us really believe that?). So let’s exclude for now, we’ll blame him on Twitter dot com instead.
THOUGHTS ON THE DOWNTICK…
Jose is still great, but he’s down from 2020, so he’ll need to be addressed, with all the others….
Jose – AGE
Robert – IMPATIENCE
Anderson – ????
Moncada – NOT A POWER HITTER
Grandal – INJURIES / AGE / MIGHT BE TOAST
I think that covers the main holdovers. The rest of the population is basically Rick Hahn additions to the roster that don’t hit home runs. That’s by design. I don’t think you should ever expect Josh Harrison, Reese McGuire, Leury Garcia and AJ Pollock to be guys carrying you with home runs. Gavin Sheets is a AAAA player until proven otherwise. Adam Engel used to be a premium glove and good base runner, I’m not sure what he is now.
So What’s the Solution?
We need Eloy Jimenez back and at his full powers. As I noted in the tweet that I clipped in earlier in the post, which is sound from an excellent (if I do say so myself) 108 Podcast with White Sox Dave, Eloy has to get his shit together. He came back yesterday looking like that is the case and he’s the main cog in this ship. He makes this thing different.
Andrew Vaughn has been objectively excellent in 2022. I was pretty down on Andrew in 2021 and I have been incredibly bullish on him in 2022. He has delivered, except for in one area. DONGERS!! As you can see in the table above, even after homering yesterday, he’s only 4.2% above league average. That’s got to be better. This is a lot to ask of a second year player, but if he wants to fill the gigantic shoes of the White Sox first basemen of the last 30 years and lead this team to a playoff appearance, he gots to do it!!