It's been easy to spot Kevin Youkilis exchanging polite celebratory handshakes with Adam Dunn at home plate. The man who has only eclipsed 20 home runs twice in a season already has 11 in 203 White Sox plate appearances.
See if you can spot the big factor in his success with his new team...
Youk's been doing all of his meaningful work in U.S. Cellular, and primarily with the long ball that's suddenly more easily available to him than ever. Eight of Youkilis' 11 home runs as a White Sox have come in his new stadium, and four of those have been short enough to qualify for the "just enough" designation from Hit Tracker Online--including his last three. Those four USCF-aided home runs account for 20% of Youk's total bases as a White Sox.
This is not meant to tear down Youkilis. He's made a point of making himself comfortable in his home park throughout his career (140 wRC+ home, 118 wRC+ away), but no more than Paul Konerko has (143 wRC+ home, 109 wRC+ away). And if Brent Morel and Orlando Hudson have accomplished anything this season, it's hit home the idea that a 3rd basemen who can loft the occasional ball into the air and let the elements have their way with it, aren't an inexhaustible commodity.
And it's about time for more of that from the team in general. Collecting a gaggle of guys capable of lofting balls outside of U.S. Cellular's meager dimensions might not be the only appropriate reaction to playing in such a ballpark, but it's a lot more sensible than Ozzie Ball, or any system that values quality over quantity in terms of run production.
The White Sox simply have no business finishing outside the top four in the AL in home runs with their ballpark. Acquiring Adam Dunn was a good first step in minding their surroundings, but any sense of waste that's felt when Dunn golfs a ball that would have left any stadium and most suburban townships, was absent as Nick Swisher hung from the right field wall, wondering how that routine fly ball snuck past him and won a major league baseball game.