Sox Insider

'F--- the home run': Even without power, Sox bats among best

Sox Insider

Frank Menechino was talking about Andrew Vaughn, specifically, but it seemed a worthwhile summation of his feelings on the White Sox as a whole.

"F--- the home run."

The White Sox hitting coach is charged with the offensive-production aspect of things on the South Side. And while the White Sox rank 28th in baseball and dead last in the American League in home runs, they're one of the game's most productive offensive clubs.

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They're tops in run differential, with a plus-59 mark leaps and bounds ahead of the next best team. That stat, of course, is equally reflective of their sensational starting pitching. But even without the power, the White Sox are all over baseball's offensive leaderboards, ranking second out of 30 teams in on-base percentage (.342); third in batting average (.258); sixth in runs scored (173), RBIs (162) and OPS (.738); seventh in hits (283) and ninth in walks (127).

They're all alone in first place in the AL Central and have the best winning percentage in the AL.

So, yeah, it makes total sense for Menechino to be more than OK with how the White Sox have hit so far this season, even if the balls aren't going over the wall.

"Guys are really starting to learn the strike zone, not chase," Menechino said. "If you're living by the home run all the time and not being able to produce runs, it's not conducive to winning baseball.

 

"The goal is always, in the beginning of the season, to get as many hits as you can, manufacture runs. The home runs will come."

As for what he was actually talking about when he let the expletive fly, it's a nice glimpse into the big picture as well as the small.

Vaughn, touted as a power-hitting first baseman from the second the White Sox took him with the No. 3 pick in the draft, hasn't homered yet as a major leaguer. But he's doing well offensively, especially of late, and is impressing Menechino while following his instructions.

"I've told Andrew to hit .300," Menechino said. "'I don't care if you don't hit one home run. Hit .300, work on hitting .300.' And if he goes into that where he's going to look to hit .300?

"Everybody wants to see the home run and see (Nick) Madrigal hit a home run. I don’t want to get excited, but f--- the home run. Let's hit .300. Then we will worry about the other stuff later."

That same line of thinking was all over Menechino's media session Wednesday, and it's shown up in the White Sox results so far this season. No power? No problem.

Of course, things shouldn't be expected to stay that way. This was the AL's most powerful lineup a season ago, and while Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert will stay on the shelf for months as they recover from significant injuries, José Abreu, Yoán Moncada, Tim Anderson and Yasmani Grandal — who have experienced varying degrees of success at the plate in the season's opening month and a half — are all more than capable of swinging powerful bats. So, too, are Vaughn and Yermín Mercedes, a couple of rookies.

As the weather heats up, the home runs will come. And a White Sox lineup that figured to count on them to power a deep October run should be able to as they chase a championship.

But the fact that the White Sox haven't been able to count on the home run to this point and still boast what is arguably baseball's best offense? That's the kind of thing that makes those championship aspirations look all the more realistic.

"It's somebody different every night getting a clutch hit," Menechino said. "These are guys coming together, they are starting to find a way to get on base, find a way to get that hit, grind out at-bats. I'm very happy with the way these guys have been playing the last couple of weeks.

"These guys are not quitters. They don't lack work ethic. These guys are out there and going about it. I'll tell you what, it's been cold and some miserable days, and they are doing exactly what they need to do.

"As far as hitting goes, I'm happy with everything everybody is doing."

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