Home run dependency and learning not to care

Home run dependency and learning not to care
Embrace it...after making sure to protect your face first, of course // Nuccio DiNuzzo, Tribune photo

I am particularly disappointed that information regarding what percentage of team runs are scored via home runs is not readily available.  Printed clearly and in sortable charts for my easy use would be best.  Alas, it is not, but I can tell you that the White Sox have scored 298 of their 657 runs in 2012 via the long ball, or 45.3%.

That is a very high, high, high percentage.

I can tell you that it is a high percentage because it's right around what the 2011 Yankees finished at, after dealing with an entire season of complaints that they were too homer-happy.  That Yankees team also finished the years 2nd in the AL in runs, and neutralized offense.

As one might remember, that celebrated 2005 club was rather home run dependent too, with their 200 home runs accounting for42.4% of their runs.  That actually wasn't that good of an offense, though.  The 2006 offense was (3rd in AL in runs), and they relied on home runs for 45.8%.

Buttressing a successful attack with the home run is not only doable, but the only sane approach to playing in such a ballpark as New Yankee Stadium, or U.S. Cellular Field.  The Sox home stadium ranks as the 4th most conducive to home runs in baseball according to ESPN, and it hasn't been outside the top five since 2002.

With a lineup stacked with free-swingers like Alex Rios, A.J. Pierzynski, Dayan Viciedo, Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham, as well as the batting-average starved Adam Dunn, the Sox won't be getting on base enough to manufacture runs, and subvert the nature of their surroundings any time soon.

Nor should they ever draw up the motivation.  Players who can get on base at massive rates are coveted and bid on by all, home run-dependent sluggers are more limited-use, and the Sox serve themselves well when they mind their surroundings.  That's true both in terms of Jerry Reinsdorf's pocketbook, but much more importantly, in terms of their 42-29 home record.

Home run haters aren't simply excused by the White Sox unique stadium situation, either.   Home runs cannot simultaneously be the ultimate measure of when a pitcher is getting punished for mistakes, and a bedrock of sabermetric analysis of pitching effectiveness, but then be flukey and unreliable occurrences from the batter's perspective.  Three home runs from the White Sox for a 6-1 win over the Tigers is not good fortune, or just a hot night, it is the established style of play.

Other notes from a scintillating Monday night

  • Jose Quintana must be feeling really refreshed from only pitching five innings his last two times out, because he had plenty of gas (91-93 mph is pretty hot for him).  His somewhat incomplete complement of pitches did not become anymore diverse, if anything it became more limited.  Jose rediscovered the elite command of his fastball he had in his earlier hot start, and used it all over the plate to grab strikes, as a putaway pitch, for everything.  He threw it 84 times out of 111 throws, for crying out loud.
  • It would, and maybe would not, be surprising to see A.J. Pierzynski plunked for chirping to pretty much the entire Detroit infield while circling the bases after his home run.  It's a huge series, and thus not a good time for nonsense, but he really egged it on.  It's at least more fun when A.J. starts fights after doing something well; when he's mouthing off in the middle of a loss, it's hardly inspiring.
  • The Tigers defensive efficiency rating is around 20 points below the White Sox, and the worst in the AL, but they nearly hid their three errors entirely.  It was only Omar Infante botching a Dewayne Wise grounder in the 6th that led directly to a rally and an unearned run, but one could say they increased Rick Porcello's workload all night.  White Sox fans are doomed to overrate defense since it's their teams advantage, Detroit fans are doomed to do the opposite.
  • One more win out of three assures that the White Sox leave the series with the division lead, which I still assert is the benchmark for success.  But after a thrilling victory, it's natural to be seeking the knockout blow.


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