The home run is the key statistic for sluggers. The home run gives a player four total bases, drives up the slugging percentage and automatically gives him a run scored and an RBI. Two Chicago White Sox hitters, Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn, are serious home-run hitters. Others, like Alexei Ramirez and Alex Rios, can hit a fair amount.
White Sox fans will be interested to see how many home runs their favorite players will hit. Of particular interest is how many Konerko and Dunn will hit, as they are aging sluggers. Also, people will watch youngsters like Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo to see whether they can slug for a full season.
Generally, 30 home runs is now the milestone for a spectacular home-run hitting season.
Following is a breakdown of the odds for the aforementioned players to hit 30 balls out of the yard.
2011: 31 HR
Career: 396 HR
Career best: 41 HR
30-home run seasons: Seven
Paul Konerko has been a consistent slugger throughout his career. He has hit 30 home runs most seasons.
The longtime White Sox first baseman has had a mid-30s renaissance, hitting 39 home runs in 2010 at age 34 and 31 home runs in 2011 at age 35.
Many wonder whether he’ll be able to keep up his power numbers at age 36. No player age 36 or older hit 30 home runs last season.
Still, Konerko is a decent bet to hit 30 home runs with his steady approach, good health and great recent track record.
2011: 11 HR
Career: 365 HR
Career best: 46 HR
30-home run seasons: Seven
Adam Dunn had a terrible first year in the American League, hitting the fewest home runs since his rookie year. His drop-off from the previous year was tremendous, which is especially striking considering that U.S. Cellular Field is a hitter-friendly park.
Many would reasonably wonder whether Dunn, 32, could hit 30 home runs again after hitting so few home runs at age 31. However, Dunn could get back simply by matter of regression to the mean. He typically hits 30 home runs. Thus, one can bet on him finding a way to capitalize on U.S. Cellular Field’s dimensions to hit 30 for the White Sox without attracting too many funny looks.
2011: 13 HR
Career: 118 HR
Career best: 25 HR
Alex Rios has never hit 30 home runs in a season. However, his career high of 25 indicates some possibility that he could reach 30.
While he only hit 13 in 2011, Rios gave the White Sox 21 in 2010. This leaves the chance that he could amount a decent amount of power over the course of the season.
Rios isn’t an outstanding slugger, but he has an outside chance to hit 30 home runs.
2011: 15 HR
Career: 69 HR
Career best: 21 HR
Alexei Ramirez hasn’t put up remarkable power numbers. He has only one 20-home-run season.
However, Ramirez has added muscle over the years. That added muscle could help him hit the ball harder.
Granted, Ramirez saw his slugging percentage drop last year. Still, if he finds a way to harness his growing strength, he could hit a good number of home runs.
2011: 1 HR
Career: 6 HR
Career best: 5 HR
The jury is still out on Dayan Viciedo. Viciedo has only played stints towards the ends of the last two seasons. Thus, people have only seen glimpses of the young White Sox outfielder, who will see his first year as a starter this season.
He showed great power capability in the minors, hitting 20 home runs in the minors both in 2010 and 2011. Then, he hit five home runs in the major leagues 2010, which was nice for just 104 at-bats.
Since Viciedo only hit one home run last season, his power potential might be in question. He has the strength to hit a high number of home runs, but one must wonder whether he can do it against major league pitching.
2011 will be Viciedo’s time to prove his slugging ability.
2011: 4 HR
Career: 4 HR
Alejandro De Aza may seem like a questionable selection for this list. However, his spot centers around his high slugging percentage (.520). De Aza put up a slugging mark that no one who saw him with the Florida Marlins or in the minor leagues could have predicted.
He hit four home runs in only 54 games.
Those figures must be weighed against his .404 BABIP, which is considered to be unsustainable for any hitter.
While White Sox fans may be excited about De Aza’s potential, he may not be able to slug like he did last year, especially when stretched across a full season. At that, his shot at hitting 30 home runs is slim.