The White Sox didn’t have much in the way of hitting, defense or pitching in 2018, but they did have a lot of large men who could hit the ball a long way.
The Halfway House for Huge Guys connected for 182 homers this year, which was only good for 10th in the American League, and four fewer than they had the year before. What they lacked in quantity, they also largely lacked in quality, but the raw power occasionally did steal the spotlight.
Before we take our annual tour of the most prodigious blasts by White Sox hitters in 2018, we’ll also take our annual tour of the other extreme dingers over the course of the season.
- Shortest home run: 342 feet, Jose Rondon, May 23
Jason Benetti used the verb “sparks,” but I’d almost call it a shank. It’s a strange kind of contact, made stranger by the fact that it landed in the Kraft Kave.
- Highest home run: 43.2 degrees, Daniel Palka, July 6
Palka picked the right park and direction for this opposite-field blast, which dropped gently into the Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid Field in Houston.
- Lowest home run: 17.3 degrees, Daniel Palka, Sept. 21
This was perhaps the last home run call of Hawk Harrelson’s career that was worthy of a superlative.
- Slowest home run: 90.3 mph, Matt Davidson, Sept. 3
Here’s an example of home-field advantage: Davidson immediately celebrated what turned out to be a walk-off homer on a ball that had a hit probability of 8 percent.
This one had the lowest exit velocity of any White Sox dinger sine 2015, and by three miles per hour.
As for the fastest, it also counts as the longest homer of the year, so let’s just get to the list.
No. 5: Daniel Palka
Date: July 3 | Distance: 448 feet | Exit velocity: 109.2 mph | Launch angle: 23.6 degrees
Palka kick-started the fifth-best White Sox winner of the year with this flick of the wrist off the batter’s eye at the Great American Ballpark. It might surprise you that this is his highest finish on the chart. He had to settle for the freaky ones.
No. 4: Yolmer Sanchez
Date: May 30 | Distance: 449 feet | Exit velocity: 105.8 mph | Launch angle: 24.6 degrees
Sanchez is good for one of these shock-bombs a year, and while I’m surprised he finished ahead of Palka, I do remember this homer. It was the only memorable thing about a 9-1 drubbing at the hands of Corey Kluber and the Indians in Cleveland.
No. 3: Matt Davidson
Date: April 26 | Distance: 450 feet | Exit velocity: 110.7 mph | Launch angle: 25.3 degrees
This was the point in the season where Davidson devoured Kauffman Stadium piece by piece. His second homer of the game was a hanging Jakob Junis slider that found water. It might’ve been one of the park’s signature waterfalls. It might’ve been the tears of Royals fans. Who can say.
No. 2: Jose Abreu
Date: July 13 | Distance: 451 feet | Exit velocity: 110.6 mph | Launch angle: 24.8 degrees
The back-to-back distance champ was dethroned by Davidson last year, but he bested Davidson by one foot in what is turning out to be the world’s most boring auction. This first-pitch projectile off Heath Fillmyer just about marked the bottom of Abreu’s downward slide, as he entered the game hitting .255/.308/.438. He posted a 1.020 OPS from this point forward, at least until the surgery.
Given the distances of the last three homers, it’s looking like the longest White Sox homer will top Abreu’s by one foot, right?
No. 1: Avisail Garcia
Date: April 3 | Distance: 481 feet | Exit velocity: 116.7 mph | Launch angle: 27.4 degrees
You have to go all the way back to the fourth game of the season, which the White Sox lost to Toronto 14-5 for their last taste of .500 all season. Garcia’s blast was the highlight, crushed off the facing of the second deck behind left-center field at Rogers Centre as the enduring highlight of the game.
This one is worth it for the sounds alone.
— Jim Margalus 🥌 (@SoxMachine) October 11, 2018
It’s the longest homer of the Statcast era — which is to say 2015 — besting Davidson’s 476-footer at Wrigley Field last year. This is a case where I’d love to see what Hit Tracker Online said, because it brought to mind Adam Dunn’s homer off his own face at Rogers Centre in 2012, which HTO measured at 460 feet. Statcast didn’t exist then, and MLB.com videos from that era no longer play, either. Given the issues of the Dunn era, maybe it’s for the better.
Jim, was that duck call sound on the Garcia home run coming from Happ? I must have watched this homer a couple dozen times over the course of the season, since it was one of the year’s few bright spots, and I don’t think I ever noticed it until now.
I’m not buying the 448 on palka’s homer. The fence is 404. It hit way up on that batters eye. No way that only clears the fence by 44 feet. 475 minimum!