White Sox losing ground on homers, including a specific kind

When the White Sox rebuild finally turned a corner during the 2020 season, it did so on the strength of the long ball. The Sox outhomered opponents 96-71, a divide that was split nearly evenly home and away. At Guaranteed Rate Field, they held a 52-40 edge, which was a massive reversal from the 51-homer deficit the year before (141 surrendered, 90 hit).

As they approach the season’s three-quarter pole this year, the White Sox are back to ceding home turf, albeit only mildly at the moment. They’re being outhomered 23-18 at Guaranteed Rate Field, including 5-2 over the first three games of this series against the Royals, which concludes today with Dylan Cease facing Brady Singer.

The Royals and White Sox came into this weekend with the American League’s two lowest home run totals, which is one reason why it’s a little alarming to see the Royals defining this series with an edge in power.

Another thing that stands out: Three of the Royals’ homers weren’t exactly convincing dingers, including the two Lucas Giolito allowed during the first game on Friday.

Michael A. Taylor hit the first of them, adding additional shock immediately after José Abreu and Hunter Dozier collided:

Salvador Perez followed with a drive that appeared to be good enough for a sac fly, until it carried over the fence:

One day and two games later, Perez got a little bit more of a pitch that isn’t typically driveable.

While the last one was on the worst pitch, it was the only contact that seemed to have enough juice from the start. There’s the batted-ball data…

  • Taylor: 98.4 mph off the bat, traveled 351 feeet, xBA of .160.
  • Perez: 97 mph off the bat, traveled 344 feet, xBA of .190
  • Perez: 102 mph off the bat, traveled 359 feet, xBA of .270.

… as well as Adam Eaton’s route, which took a straighter line back to the fence. Eaton seemed to think he had more of a chance of catching the other two, and while some outfielders can’t be trusted, his reads jibe with the reactions of the hitters, neither of whom broke into a trot out of the box.

Josh got into an interesting discussion about how Guaranteed Rate Field is playing this year with Mike Petriello of MLB.com and Alexander Chase of PitcherList.com. On one hand, the ball doesn’t seem to be carrying well, as hard contact isn’t being rewarded in familiar ways as frequently. On the other, Statcast’s current park factors show the field favoring left-handed power hitters immensely once again, which is a phenomenon that showed up in previous iterations of the Bill James Handbook.

Then you see three cheap homers slice over the right field wall over the course of three games and wonder if there’s a wind tunnel that aids a specific kind of fly ball.

The White Sox have only played 21 games at home this year, which is sample that can be warped by one extreme series. That said, seeing the Royals benefit from three Kraft Kave jobs put me on alert, because the Sox owned that flight path last year. They hit 11 of the 15 opposite-field homers by righties last year..

The problem is, the guys who contributed seven of those 11 homers aren’t available to them right now:

  1. Eloy Jimenez, 3
  2. James McCann, 2
  3. Adam Engel, 1
    Danny Mendick, 1
    Yoán Moncada, 1
    Luis Robert, 1
    José Abreu, 1
    Tim Anderson, 1

Anderson owns the only opposite-field homer to right field at the Rate this year, and at least it was a grand slam. José Abreu came close, but Max Kepler robbed him. Every other bid has fallen short.

Andrew Vaughn should have the power to eventually shank a few into the visitors bullpen, because he’ll drive pitches on the outer half the other way. As for the others, Yermín Mercedes is strong enough for accidental oppo shots, but his power stroke isn’t oriented in that direction. Nick Madrigal’s flies need a last-mile solution to reach their destinations. Leury García and Billy Hamilton aren’t great bets to get it done from either side of the plate.

That could be just a strange cluster of environmental conditions and randomly generated actions, but it could also be one of the ways the absences of Jiménez and Robert manifest themselves, since the White Sox have largely steered free of consequences thus far. Their ability to drive the ball the other way, even on pitches they didn’t square up, helped make up for the lack of left-handed thump in the 2020 lineup. Without them, the Sox are going to need to see more from the usual suspects like Eaton, Yoán Moncada and Yasmani Grandal. They’re all in the today’s lineup as La Russa attempts to salvage a split.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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I try not to think of it too often, but then phenomena like the right field wind tunnel come up and I can’t help but daydream about how many dingers Bryce Harper would have hit at the Rate.

karkovice squad

Reminds me of the couple moonshots from Moncada and Collins that turned into warning track flies against the Brewers.

Also feels like Moncada’s been the biggest victim, both home and on the road, of hitting the ball to the wrong part of the park.

Shingos Cheeseburgers

So much of last year’s success was predicated on HRs makes me worried that as their BABIP this year inevitably regresses we’re gonna see a lot more frustrating games like we’ve seen in this series unless the HRs pick up.


I wonder how long it might take them to call Sheets up. He is a lefty hitter, and is really raking it so far… hit two homers today with 5 rbi’s, now has driven in 13 in like 10 games. He has played half his games in right field also without an error… can’t help but wonder if he would be better than Eaton at the plate, obviously would lose a bit on defense. As a hitter I like his upside though.

They really need to get Engel back soon, geez… I never thought a hamstring pull in late March might keep him out until almost June. Hope he gets a short minor league assignment pretty soon.


Certainly encouraging to see Sheets’ results so far. I’m not sure he’s talented enough to be better than Eaton in 2021, but it’s nice to know there’s another potential option in RF as we seem to be very low on OF depth. And perhaps if Sheets’ AAA numbers prove sustainable he could earn that RF job next year.