In a year where it seemed like 98 percent of hitters set a career high in home runs, the White Sox really didn’t take advantage of the juiced ball. The Twins, Yankees, Astros and Dodgers all eclipsed the team home run record set by the Yankees the year before, and by plenty. Minnesota ended up nosing out New York for the new mark, 307 to 306.
The White Sox, meanwhile, hit just 182 homers for the second straight year. In 2018, that total was good for 16th place. This year? 25th. It turns out that it’s hard to keep up in the power department when right field produces only six homers in a season.
Nobody’s going to look to the White Sox for evidence that the ball was designed to fly. That said, while the environment is not reflected in their home run total, it does show up some in their home run distances.
Last year, Jose Abreu hit the second-longest White Sox homer, which Statcast projected for a cool 451 feet. Only Avisaíl García’s 481-foot dinger beat it.
This year? The White Sox hit seven homers longer than Abreu’s silver-medal shot. But before we get to the most Brobdingnagian blasts of the year, first we’ll honor the season’s other extreme homers, some of which also show how the ball’s behavior surprised.
- Shortest home run: 340 feet, Yoan Moncada on July 25
This one also qualifies at the White Sox’ Most 2019 Homer of the Year, if only from all the uncertain reactions.
- Highest home run: 41.4 degrees, Zack Collins on Sept. 17
Collins struggled to cover the high fastball in his first attempt at facing MLB pitching, but it’s safe to say he covered Trevor May’s 96 on this swing.
- Lowest home run: 15.6 degrees, Ryan Cordell on April 18
This one doesn’t look like the classic laser, partially because of the angle of Comerica Park’s home plate camera, and partially because it traveled 402 feet to left center. It’s either the second-lowest Sox homer in the Statcast era, or the third. Avi García hit one during the 2015 South Side Sox Meetup that Statcast says had a launch angle of -13.
- Slowest home run: 90.9 mph, Jose Abreu on May 30
Here’s a textbook case of “hitting with short arms,” resulting in a textbook 2019 home run off Cleveland’s Dan Otero. Look at where Otero located this sinker.
Only Matt Davidson and Melky Cabrera have registered lower exit velocities on White Sox homers since it became a stat. (I still admire Davidson’s ability to know he got enough of that one to raise a finger triumphantly on his way to first base.)
As for the hardest home run, it’s one of the few that are tied for second in distance. Let’s proceed.
No. 5: Yoan Moncada
Date: April 19 | Distance: 459 feet | Exit velocity: 109.3 mph | Launch angle: 30.2 degrees
Comerica Park’s cavernous center field is the subject of great consternation among power hitters, but I like that it’s formidable enough that Moncada took nothing for granted on a ball that landed nearly 460 feet away from home plate. (Also, this was April, so perhaps nobody was conditioned to 2019’s conditions yet.)
No. 2(t): Eloy Jiménez
Date: June 11 | Distance: 462 feet | Exit velocity: 110.8 | Launch angle: 27.9 degrees
Eloy Jiménez’s ninth homer of the season was his first homer in front of his adoring public. That said, he made his inaugural Guaranteed Rate Field blast a memorable one. Not only did it land in Thome Territory beyond the center field batter’s eye, but it also climbed the stairs, which is about as visually dramatic as a homer gets in a very boring park for them.
No. 2(t): Jose Abreu
Date: Sept. 8 | Distance: 462 feet | Exit velocity: 112.9 mph | Launch angle: 27.6 degrees
Aside from the batter’s eye, the other trademark of a noteworthy homer in the bland environment is reaching the concourse. Abreu came up three rows short on this hanging Jaime Barria changeup.
No. 2(t): Yoan Moncada
Date: July 3 | Distance: 462 feet | Exit velocity: 113.9 mph | Launch angle: 32.4 degrees
Moncada finished second in terms of distance, but this one takes the exit velocity title by one-tenth of a mile per hour over Daniel Palka. It also might’ve been the coolest homer of the year when factoring in the situation (down one in the 10th), as well as the distance and the style. Moncada’s bat drop lets everybody watching know that it’s time to relax, time to party, or, in this case, both. There were only 23,000 in attendance, but he made it sound like 33,000.
No. 1: Eloy Jiménez
Date: June 9 | Distance: 471 feet | Exit velocity: 111.6 | Launch angle: 24 degrees
While unprecedented, Jiménez’s stairmaster at Guaranteed Rate Field wasn’t a total shock. Two days before, Jiménez reached the same part of the park at Kauffman Stadium for the first real showcase of his might at the major-league level. The reactions in the dugout are a mix of jubilation and horror, as though some of the White Sox realized just what they’ve unleashed.
The team’s reaction to Eloy’s KC homer? I would describe it as “restrained jubilation.”
I look forward when talking about White Sox home runs doesn’t have to be prefaced by a note of how awful they are at hitting home runs.