CHICAGO -- When Ken Williams took over as general manager of the Chicago White Sox in 2001, he believed the way to win in a ballpark that played small was to hit home runs and outpitch other clubs. If that equation is still true, then a good portion of the team’s offensive woes can be blamed on a lack of the long ball. Projecting the current numbers, the entire starting lineup will be collectively down nearly 80 home runs at the end of the season compared with its 2012 total.
During the White Sox's recent surge in the win column, the home run ball has been a part of the process. Chicago has won eight of its past nine games, while hitting 11 long balls.
"The home runs come from us collectively having better at-bats," hitting coach Jeff Manto said. "When people seize the opportunity to get better at-bats, you will see us hit more home runs."
The Sox lost 43 home runs combined with the free-agent signings of Kevin Youkilis and A.J. Pierzynski elsewhere. The only two players who will come close to their career home run averages are Alejandro De Aza and Adam Dunn.
"I don’t think there is any team that doesn’t like [home runs]," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "We haven’t hit that many early in the year. Earlier, when we did hit them, they were not at the right time. Lately, they have been coming at important times. [Dayan] Viciedo, Dunn and [Jordan] Danks have had big homers for us lately."
"The good teams I have been on did not worry about home runs," first baseman Paul Konerko said. "Those teams went into the game knowing they would have to manufacture runs; homers would just come as a part of that function. The ones that were not as good had the thought process that they had to hit home runs to win. In the American league, in general, most of them hit home runs and have some guys that can hit them pretty often. You need to have some easy nights for your pitching staff where the offense puts up six or seven runs on homers. It is essential to have some nights like that."
Almost to a man the White Sox feel that this team, unchanged for 2014, would hit for more power.
"Honestly, I think if you bring back the identical club, there is no way some of the strange things that happened to us would be duplicated," Konerko said. "If you just look at the luck factor and the weather early in the season, I am confident in saying what happened this year won’t happen again. To me, it doesn’t matter who they bring back, the team will score more runs regardless of the changes they make."