Last year’s post about the White Sox’s longest homers opened with some dismay over the team’s sagging home run total. After blasting a league-leading 96 homers over 60 games in 2020, good for a 259-homer pace in a standard season, injuries and suboptimal batted-ball tendencies knocked them back down to the league’s bottom half.
In 2021, they hit 190 homers.
In 2022, they hit … 149.
Some of their shortcomings could be pinned on the baseball itself. The fact that other teams had to hit the same baseball — and the fact that White Sox pitchers allowed 166 homers — means the amount of blame can only be limited to “some,” but there’s ample evidence of a deader product.
For instance, 149 homers would’ve been a distant last on the American League leaderboard in 2021, but the Sox climbed from 11th to 10th from 2021 to 2022 despite socking 41 fewer dingers.
You can also look at the distance of the White Sox’s longest homers to get some idea of the diminished action. The White Sox’s longest homer of 2022 would finish seventh on 2021’s list, and there were four longer homers hit in 2020, even though that season lasted only 60 games.
It makes sense that the White Sox’s best contact wouldn’t travel as far, because a lot of the very good contact that normally cleared the fence with a little room to spare instead died on the warning track.
There seemed to be a ceiling on the team’s best power, because the difference between the White Sox’s longest homer and the fifth-longest homer was a total of only three feet.
This is all a terrible way to tout a post that’s supposed to generate home-run thrills, but emotional honesty of a core tenet of the Sox Machine platform. Would it help put a dent in the excitement deficit if I said that the 2022 White Sox produced the …
Shortest home run: Luis Robert, 322 feet on July 12, 2022
… in the Statcast era? I couldn’t recall seeing a White Sox home run come in under 330 feet, and sure enough, Robert’s shank off the guard rail just inside the right field foul pole at Progressive Field marks a new low in the Statcast era. Yoán Moncada previously held that mark at 340 feet back in 2019.
So, there’s that.
Highest home run: Eloy Jiménez, 44 degrees on July 6, 2022
It’s hard to tell if Jiménez didn’t run because 1) he knew he got enough of it, 2) he thought it was going to be foul, or 3) he was exercising his freedom with his No Unnecessary Hustle pass.
When I saw the above video of Burger’s homer after searching for the fastest home run,. I thought, “That’s gotta have the lowest launch angle of any White Sox homer, too.” I was not mistaken.
Slowest home run: Elvis Andrus, 94.6 mph on Sept. 3, 2022
Oddly enough, the White Sox homers with the three lowest exit velocities occurred within a four-day stretch of the season, as Andrus’ homer was followed by Yasmani Grandal (95.2 mph on Sept. 2) and Gavin Sheets (95.7 on Aug. 30). It only took five months to understand the benefits of pulling the ball in the air to a corner on a regular basis. Andrus’ was the most special of all, as it was a grand slam.
The White Sox’s longest homer of the year also came with the sacks packed, but before we get to that one, here are the four that came within a yard of matching it.
No. 4(t): Luis Robert
The White Sox’s No. 5 entry was the team’s most visually impressive homer at Guaranteed Rate Field in 2022 thanks to the combination of the higher-than-usual launch angle and an outfield full of Sox fans. The Sox cracked 2 million in attendance for the first time since 2011, and there were too few moments like this.
No. 4(t): Eloy Jiménez
These two homers featured identical projected distances and exit velocities, but different launch angles and conditions. Jiménez had to rocket this one through raindrops because the Mariners are a difficult opponent to reschedule.
No. 3: Eloy Jiménez
Long homers at Guaranteed Rate Field always look underwhelming because there are very few landmarks that help one tell 470 feet from 440. Comerica Park also has a way of shrinking long home runs due to its dimensions, but we know from extensive AL Central history that any ball that reaches the center-field shrubbery is a poke.
No. 2: José Abreu
This is probably the last year we’ll see Abreu on one of these lists, and despite only hitting half of his usual total, he finished with the season’s second-longest homer, which reached the second deck at Rogers Centre.
No. 1: Luis Robert
Speaking of second deck, here’s Luis Robert hitting one through Target Field’s for a grand slam. It was his fourth homer in nine days, giving him 10 before the All-Star break and setting the stage for a monster second half.
Robert then exited the next game with lightheadedness and only played in 25 games the rest of the season, hitting .216/.266/.284 without a homer, although most of that was due to a wrist issue.
Still, we had that slam, which is even better with the Minnesota broadcast, because Dick Bremer’s call had the power to crumple the papers in front of him. As frustrating as the White Sox were in 2022, the Twins were always there to make sure they didn’t walk alone.