If the Chicago White Sox do indeed sell more tickets this season with a new easy-on-the-eyes long-ball offense, perhaps many of those increased ticket sales will come in the bleachers out beyond the outfield fences.
Bring a glove White Sox bleacher dwellers, because a little more than a week into the new season the team looks like it will be able to deliver on the promise of more power.
Eight games does not a season make, of course, but after almost three full series, the White Sox are clearly headed in the right direction, thanks to a remodeling of the roster that focused on offense.
The high point of the young season was the six-homer barrage in Colorado on Tuesday night that not only included the first two home runs of Jose Abreu's career, it also included a two-homer game from Avisail Garcia. The last time White Sox teammates each had two home runs in a game was in 2004 when Juan Uribe and Frank Thomas did it.
Nobody is crazy enough to consider the new dynamic power duo a finished product which is ready to deliver run production consistently from now until the end of their careers, but Tuesday’s performance is something the front offense dreamed of when bringing aboard both Garcia and Abreu. The first glimpse of it came less than 10 games together.
There are still some consistency issues to work out. Before the White Sox hit six home runs Tuesday, they had not hit a home run in the four previous games. And the outburst came in the Mile High city of Denver, where baseballs have been known to travel a long way on occasion.
But the team is surely in a better place power-wise than say the Kansas City Royals, who headed into play Wednesday without a home run, or the New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins and Miami Marlins, who had hit just three home runs each. Alejandro De Aza had three home runs all by himself halfway through the second game of the season.
Adding it all up, the White Sox headed into Wednesday afternoon’s game with the American League lead in runs per game (6.25), batting average (.290), home runs (12), slugging percentage (.472) and on-base percentage (.824). The OBP shows the White Sox aren't one-dimensional, which is also something the front office aimed to address.
It’s a huge departure from last season when the White Sox ranked last in the AL in runs (598) and were 14th in OBP (.302) and 13th in slugging (.378).
Sure, maybe the early-season numbers are skewed by a single uprising at Coors Field that doubled the overall homer total in a single night, but remember U.S. Cellular Field is a launching pad itself that simply wasn’t being utilized by last year’s underachieving veteran-laden roster.
If the lineup abuses its own park like it did to Coors Field, then the tape measure will be put to good use this year. In 2013, it wasn’t needed all that much.
The White Sox were just 12th in the AL in home runs last year at 148. At the current team’s pace, they would reach that total by game No. 111.