THEY’VE GOT THE POWER

Abreu, Jimenez lead resur­gence in White Sox’ home-run num­bers

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - JOHN GROCHOWSKI BY THE NUM­BERS Twit­ter: @Gro­chowskiJ

The White Sox and home runs have not al­ways been the best of friends, but there’s no doubt they are now.

Through Sun­day, the Sox’ 55 homers led the Amer­i­can League and were tied with the Padres for sec­ond in the ma­jors be­hind the Dodgers’ 59. That power has helped the Sox to a 17-12 record one game shy of the half­way mark in this ab­bre­vi­ated sea­son.

First base­man Jose Abreu, whose 11 homers in­clude six against the Cubs last week­end, was one be­hind for­mer Sox farm­hand Fer­nando Tatis Jr. of the Padres for the ma­jor-league lead. Out­fielder Eloy Jimenez wasn’t far be­hind with nine.

Of the Sox’ 145 runs, 81 have been driven in by homers. That’s a 55.86% Guillen num­ber — a name coined by Baseball Prospec­tus’ Joe Shee­han dur­ing the Sox’ World Se­ries run in 2005. The av­er­age Guillen num­ber in the ma­jors is 45.19%.

That’s a big change from 2019, when the Sox ranked 25th in the ma­jors with 182 homers and scored 43.36% of their runs on homers.

Should the Sox lead the ma­jors in homers this sea­son, it would be the fourth time in the 2000s. They never led the ma­jors un­til 2004, when they tied the Yan­kees with 242 be­hind Paul Kon­erko’s 41. They topped the Braves 236-222 in 2006 and out-home­red the Red Sox 235-214 in 2008.

That was part of a run in 2000-08 in which the Sox hit 200 or more homers ev­ery sea­son but 2007, when their 190 were sixth in the ma­jors.

A run such as that would have been un­think­able in the orig­i­nal Comiskey Park, where the Sox played from 1910 through 1990. Dis­tances var­ied with bullpen place­ment and wire fences, but it maxed out at 445 feet to cen­ter field and 362 feet down the lines.

Big home-run sea­sons were rare. The Sox didn’t top 100 homers un­til hit­ting 116 in 1955 and were be­low 100 as late as 1989, when the ma­jor-league av­er­age was 119 and the Sox’ 94 ranked 24th among 26 teams.

The 1959 AL cham­pion Sox were last among the 16 ma­jor-league teams with 97 homers, 80 be­hind the lead­ing Braves.

Catcher Sherm Lol­lar led the ’59 Sox with 22 homers, seven shy of the then-club-record 29 by Gus Zer­nial in 1950 and Ed­die Robin­son in 1951. Bill Mel­ton’s 33 homers in 1970 made the Sox the last of the 16 pre-ex­pan­sion teams to have a 30-homer man.

Since the park now known as Guar­an­teed Rate Field opened in 1991, Sox play­ers have hit 40 or more homers 12 times — five by Frank Thomas — with a clu­brecord 49 by Al­bert Belle in 1998.

The raw num­bers won’t be as high in 2020 be­cause of the 60-game sea­son, but the Sox of Abreu and Jimenez are av­er­ag­ing 1.90 homers per game so far. The club record is 1.49 per game in 2004.

It took time and a change of ball­parks, but homers and the Sox of to­day are friends in­deed.

GETTY IMAGES

Out­fielder Eloy Jimenez has hit nine home runs this sea­son and is one of the main rea­sons the Sox were tied for sec­ond in the ma­jors with 55 through Sun­day.

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