How many nine-homer guys could the White Sox field in one season?

Every time the White Sox face somebody with a home run total that would stand a chance of leading the league, at least in a world where Aaron Judge never existed, my brain responds with a flicker of confusion before context asserts itself, similar to remembering a recent rule change.

For instance, when Mike Trout hit a third-inning solo shot off Johnny Cueto on Tuesday night, it startled me when I heard that it was his 23rd of the year, until another part of my brain overrode it with “Oh yeah, they’re allowed to do that now,” as though it was part of the new collective bargaining agreement.

That’s what happens when we’re 73 games into the season and the White Sox team leader has nine homers. The Sox and the Tigers are the only two teams without a double-digit dinger total on their roster, and the Detroit offense is getting headlines for its historic putridity.

José Abreu came within feet of hitting his 10th later in the ninth inning, but his drive hit the right-field wall just below the yellow line (which is still lame — balls should be required to clear a barrier), and he had to hustle into second for a double.

The White Sox aren’t spiritually prohibited from hitting 10 homers at any individual level, but that kind of sequence is what it would look like. And that made me wonder what the White Sox’s offensive ceiling would look like if the Sox knew that a guy would be tapped out, like Beethoven, once he produced his ninth.

The last time the White Sox went a whole year without a 10-homer hitter was 1949, when they hit 43 homers as a team. Bud Souchok led the way with seven homers in 84 games, which isn’t bad. Luke Appling finished tied for third with five homers at the age of 42, which is as impressive as it is pitiful. They finished with 43 homers, which was not only good for dead last in Major League Baseball, but they were almost doubled up by the next-worst team (the Washington Senators with 81). Looking at it that way, it’s a miracle they finished 63-91.

These White Sox already have 61 this year, which is merely 25th in baseball, and 20 ahead of the last-place Tigers. But with Abreu tapped out and Luis Robert with one to spare, the White Sox would need a lot of power from a lot of people and places that haven’t yet produced it.

Here’s my best attempt at figuring out how many homers the incumbents could hit while staying in the single digits.

POSNowMaxTotals
C330Grandal, McGuire, Perez/Zavala
1B1418Abreu, Sheets
2B427Harrison, García, Sánchez
3B1118Moncada, Burger
SS821Anderson, Sosa, Mendick (3)
LF1118Vaughn, Pollock
CF89Robert
RF19Engel
DH19Jiménez
Total61159

That total of 159 is both unimpressive and a couple dozen homers ahead of the 135-homer pace they’ve set. They question is whether they could get more than 17 players with nine homers. There’s some wiggle room at catcher, where Seby Zavala could go on a heater before getting claimed by a team when Yasmani Grandal returns, following with Carlos Pérez making the most of his third-catcher opportunities. (Reese McGuire would also have to hit his first homer before hitting eight others, but this keep in mind this is a very stupid exercise.)

There’s also some cushion in the outfield, but that probably requires Eloy Jiménez to establish himself with some urgency whenever he comes back from his rehab stint, even though he’s 8-for-42 with no extra-base hits over 12 rehab games thus far. Maybe Adam Hasley picks up a couple, and then the Sox get another surge with a midseason trade. That gets the Sox to 170 or 175, which would put the Sox in the middle of the pack this year.

This is a long, dumb way to say that in order for the White Sox to finish around the league average in homers, they’re going to have to sock about 110 over the next 90 games. As much benefit as I’d get from this post retaining its relevancy for weeks, I’d prefer to see the Sox try hitting that number with a couple guys hitting 20 homers by themselves. Considering seven hitters have already reached 20 homers with more than week left in the first half — and the Sox were built around the concept of hitting balls over the fence — that doesn’t seem like too much to ask. Or, in Cueto’s case, gently command.

“I told them, ‘Hey, let’s hit homers. Let’s put the ball in the air. The ball is carrying today,’ ” Cueto said.

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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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Ted Mulvey

To take the Beethoven analogy a bit further: he did have some piecemeal bits and bobs of a first movement for a tenth symphony written down. So, after a Sox player reaches 9 home runs, perhaps he’s only limited to infield/bunt singles?

Amar

Cueto for Hitting Coach

GlossRoad

Maybe GM too

Amar

Cueto for Owner

Papa Giorgio

Why waste many swings when one swing do trick

upnorthsox

I think a discussion about the 1949 team is way more interesting, start with the usual excuses.
Comiskey Park was too hard to hit homers in: Except if you were the visitors who hit 52 HRs in Comiskey that year. WS pitching gave up 56 on the road so close to even on the splits. WS hitters on the other hand just had problems, hitting just 15 HRs at home vs 28 on the road.
It’s too cold in Chicago: Ok, but WS hitters had just 3 HRs total in August and just 6 HRs in July. Maybe it was a cool 95 degrees?
Injuries and/or bad seasons: Hard to say, but of the players who had played a full season in the career, only one, Gus Zernial, averaged double digit HRs in his career and ’49 was his rookie season where he played in only 73 games.
It’s all LaRussa’s fault: Obviously, and he was even alive in 1949.

Last edited 5 months ago by upnorthsox
ParisSox

Maybe this offseason Jim could do a post on worst white Sox teams of all time. That’d be so white Sox.

Joliet Orange Sox

Appling only hit 45 homers in his long career so hitting 5 in 1949 was a big number for him. Appling produced 5.1 bWAR that year at age 42. He struggled playing in only 50 games the next year which was the last of his career.

Appling is clearly among the greatest players in White Sox history (perhaps the greatest) with his 77.6 career bWAR all produced with the Sox (despite missing two seasons due to WWII). Ted Lyons is second on that list with Frank Thomas third. Has there ever been talk of a statue for Appling or Lyons at the park? If not, is it because they were just a little too long ago (Pierce, Fox, Aparicio, and Minoso all are honored and played in the 50’s); they played for nothing but losers (neither ever played on a team that finished 2nd let alone first); or is there some racist baggage from the time that they are associated with (that I am unaware of)?

To put White Sox history in some context, Mike Trout at 30 already has a higher career bWAR than the White Sox all-time leader Appling.

joewho112

These ceremonies exist to please the fans, not the players. Barely anyone alive can remember seeing Appling play so who is going to buy a ticket just to see a Luke Appling statue dedication?

upnorthsox

I agree but they could do Plaques for the old timers(and some of the non-HoFers) on the CF concourse. A replica of Appling’s HoF Plaque would be nice. I could think of a dozen at least of guys that I’ve seen that I’d like to see plaques for, you could with Dick Allen, Wilbur Wood, and Bill Melton….

Deep Dish Pizza

Making the move to this site and leaving fansided in the rear view mirror. It’s like day and night between the two. It’s like a HS news letter writers and Mike Royko. Hope to make friends here like I did at the other place. Also hope we have the freedom to say anything here. Over there I got put in time out for using the word snowflake. Might have hurt someone’s feelings, but they had a whole column about Roe.

Joliet Orange Sox

I don’t think we’re free to say anything. We’re free to talk about baseball and the White Sox in any way we want but I can’t see any reason most political issues would be appropriate to discuss here (some political/cultural issues do intersect with the game).

calcetinesblancos

I concur with Calcetines Naranjas; if you are trying to avoid pissing people off, you might want to refrain from mentioning Roe and instead just keep the focus on the Sox. I doubt most people on here agree with most of my political beliefs, but when we’re here we’re all family making fun of the Sox and The Russa together.

Deep Dish Pizza

I’m not the one who brought Roe, fansided did. Funny you guys don’t even know me but yet you conclude I’m the one in the wrong…unreal. I’m smart enough to carry on a conversation with out. So I guess you three have no problem with censoring. If this is the welcoming committee .

Deep Dish Pizza

without cussing

Deep Dish Pizza

sorry one thing more, just like listening reading is a skill.read what i wrote

Right Size Wrong Shape

This is going great.

chipporter

I see we’ve attracted a troll. Hello dickhead

Take your own salty advice and read what was written, you illiterate douchenozzle.

Last edited 5 months ago by chipporter
soxygen

I already wish you weren’t here

calcetinesblancos

Uh, all joking aside, are you ok?

Joliet Orange Sox

It seems I’m one of the three people who you’ve determined has no problem with censorship since there were two replies and I was one of them. My reply made no assumptions about who brought up what on another site. I thought my reply was an innocuous statement that this is a baseball fan site and politics are not the subject at hand.

I consider avoiding political discussions on a baseball fan site as simple politeness having nothing to do with censorship. It is unfortunate you took my post as unwelcoming as that was not my intent.

joewho112

You have the freedom to say anything and the editors have the freedom to ban you if you’re being an a-hole just like every other place on the internet.

ParisSox

Why would anyone object to talking about 5 time All Star Preacher Roe?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preacher_Roe

Joliet Orange Sox

The Sacramento Solons were the White Sox affiliate in the AAA Pacific Coast League in 1949. At that time, the Solons played their home games in a place called Edmonds Field. However, a previous incarnation of the team had played their home games in a place called Snowflake Park.

If Umberto Eco were still alive, he might be able to explain the connections between the 1949 White Sox, Snowflake Park, and the Knights Templar but my take is that it might be just coincidence.

To Err is Herrmann

Preacher Roe (1938-55) probably faced off against Ben Wade (1948-54, 19-17, 4.34, Pirates, Cardinals) at some point.

calcetinesblancos

Leury will be the Sox HR leader at the end of the season. It would just be too perfect for it not to happen.