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How many 20 home run hitters will the 2023 White Sox have?

by Adam Kaplan

Andrew Vaughn led the 2022 White Sox in home runs. He finished the season with 17. Besides him, no White Sox player really came close to breaking the 20-home-run barrier last season. The Pale Hose were the 9th worst team in terms of total dingers hit, which contributed to their anemic offensive numbers.

As such, it becomes very relevant to talk about who might be able to cross this threshold in 2023:

Here’s a breakdown of the White Sox offense heading into 2023, as well as each player’s likelihood of joining the 20 Home Run Club in 2023.

Eloy Jimenez

In large part due to the raw skill and talent we’ve seen from Eloy Jimenez over the years, he was a popular response to the tweet above – and rightfully so. In his breakout year in 2019, Jimenez hit 31 dingers. During the COVID-shortened season, Jimenez hit 14 home runs. That amount extrapolated over a 162-game season would have equated to almost 38 homers. During the second half of last season, when Jimenez was finally fully healthy, he hit 14 home runs. When he is healthy and on the field, Jimenez is the White Sox’s best chance to hit a home run.

The big question mark for Jimenez is whether or not he can stay on the field. He was hurt as the 2020 season ended going into the playoffs, and missed significant time over the past two full seasons. The plan right now seemingly is to make Jimenez the primary DH – his role during the second half of 2022 – which will hopefully limit his injury risk

However, Jimenez’s injury last season came from running to first base, so you never know.

Likelihood of Hitting 20+ HRs: Book It. Jimenez is going to stay relatively healthy and mash in 2023.

Luis Robert

After Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert was probably the most common response to the tweet above. Again, seeing Robert play, it’s not hard to think he’ll jack at least 20 dingers in 2023. Robert crushes moonshots with ease.

In 139 games played in his professional career, Luis Robert has hit 24 home runs. As such, it should not be shocking to think that over the course of a full and healthy 162 games season, Robert should easily be able to crack 20 home runs.

However, like Jimenez, health will be a factor. It’s difficult to smash homers if you’re on the IL. Robert only played in 68 games in 2021 and 98 games in 2022. Unlike Jimenez, however, Robert is fully expected to constantly play outfield defense. I don’t know why I’m more optimistic that Jimenez stays healthy than I am of Robert, but the Sox’s center fielder needs to have a season where he’s mostly on the field before I believe he can have a season where he hits 20 home runs.

Likelihood of Hitting 20+ HRs: If healthy, he hits 20 bombs, no problem.

Andrew Vaughn

Next season will be a telling one for Vaughn. Will it be a season where he continues to develop and improve his offensive game, or is what we saw in 2022 what we’re going to get? For what it’s worth, Fangraphs’ STEAMER projects slight improvements, projecting Vaughn to hit 23 home runs in 586 plate appearances.

Vaughn was night and day between the first and second half of the 2022 season. AV started off the season so well that he was a borderline All-Star candidate. During the first half of the season, Vaughn was 21st in the AL in wRC+ and hammered 10 home runs. Though the All-Star Game isn’t the true halfway point of the season, Vaughn was getting better and on his way to eclipsing that sweet 20-home-run mark.

Then Vaughn’s game fell off. He ended his 2022 campaign with a pedestrian 113 wRC+ thanks to his second-half wRC+ of 89.

If you’re optimistic, you’ll say that Vaughn showed true growth last year and with new management and leadership in 2023, he’ll take another step forward. If you’re pessimistic, you’ll say that 2022 is just what Andrew Vaughn is, a player who can make contact well, but isn’t the best home run hitter.

Likelihood of Hitting 20+ HRs: Strong. I’m an optimist.

Yasmani Grandal

Despite missing a good chunk of the 2021 season, Yasmani Grandal still managed to hit 23 home runs.

From 2016 – 2021, the only season Yaz didn’t hit at least 20 home runs was the COVID-shortened 2020 season. But then, 2022 happened. Not only did Grandal miss significant time due to injury, but he was also plain awful at the plate. In 376 plate appearances, Grandal had a wRC+ of 68 with only 5 home runs. He fell off of a cliff, leaving many to wonder if he’s cooked. Maybe this is the optimism talking, but I think he’s going to rebound in a big way for the 2023 White Sox. I am very much making this statement based on blind luck and not what I saw from him last year.

Likelihood of Hitting 20+ HRs: It’ll happen if he can prove 2022 was a fluke and not his new norm.

Oscar Colas

If Oscar Colas is going to be the main White Sox right fielder for 2023, there’s a strong argument that he can hit over 20 bombs.

I spoke with Michael Suareo, our prospects guru here at Sox On 35th, and this is what he had to say:

“He hit 14 home runs in 225 plate appearances in Double A, which is a pitcher-friendly league as a whole. I firmly believe a 25 home run season is reasonable for him in a full season.”

The major concern would be that he’s never done it before and he still will be a rookie trying to hit Major League pitching. However, he’s shown enough skill in the minors last year where it’s not out of the question that 20+ home runs are in Colas’ near future.

Likelihood of Hitting 20+ HRs: Cautiously optimistic it will occur.

Tim Anderson

We all know Tim Anderson is very capable of hitting memorable home runs:

But consistently hitting them over the course of a full season is not really his game. Tim Anderson has only hit 20+ home runs in a single season once in his professional career, back in 2018. He hit 18 in 2019 and 17 in 2021, and that’s as close as he’s gotten to a repeat. A healthy TA can hit 15-18 home runs, but hitting more than 20 is not his style.

Likelihood of Hitting 20+ HRs: Unlikely, and that’s okay.

Andrew Benintendi

The White Sox newly acquired left fielder can hit a home run every now and again.

But like Tim Anderson, consistently hitting them throughout an entire season is not really a part of his game.

Now that Benintendi calls a more hitter-friendly ballpark like Guaranteed Rate Field home, there is hope that he can increase his power statistics, but he’s also coming off of a season where he hit all of 5 home runs in 521 plate appearances. The most homers that Benny hit in a season was 20 back in 2017, and while he did hit 17 home runs in 2021, asking Benintendi to hit at least 20 dingers in 2023 feels like an unnecessarily tall ask of him.

Likelihood of Hitting 20+ HRs: Don’t count on it.

Yoan Moncada

Before Moncada contracted COVID which cratered his 2020 season (and seemingly beyond), it looked entirely possible Yo-Yo could hit at least 20 home runs consistently. After smashing 17 home runs in 2018, he hit a career-high 25 in 2019.

Since 2019, Moncada sported a wRC+ of 94, 120, and 76 in 2020, 2021, and 2022, respectively. In his best offensive season of the past three MLB seasons, the only season where Yoan Moncada was above average offensively, was when he had a .412 SLG and 14 home runs. It seems safe to assume that the 2019 version of Moncada (and the juiced baseballs he was hitting) are long gone, and I’d be happy if Moncada could even hit 15 home runs in a season. Right now, hitting 20 seems insurmountable.

Likelihood of Hitting 20+ HRs: Don’t hold your breath.

Gavin Sheets

Part of the reason Gavin Sheets is still on the Sox roster is that he’s a left-handed power bat.

Sheets has the pedigree to hit 20 home runs, but both the plate appearances and what he does in those plate appearances will be an impediment to Sheets blasting at least 20 bombs. As it stands right now, Sheets is not an everyday player. The Opening Day first baseman looks to be Andrew Vaughn, the Opening Day DH looks to be Jimenez, and the Opening Day outfield looks to consist of Luis Robert, Andrew Benintendi, and Oscar Colas. That leaves Sheets as the odd man out, and it’s hard to consistently hit home runs if you’re not getting at-bats.

Though, it is not hard to imagine a world where Gavin Sheets does get consistent playing time. If either Luis Robert sustains a long-term injury and/or Oscar Colas struggles to adapt to major league pitching, both of which seem within the realm of possibility, then it’ll be Sheets’ time to shine (either Jimenez moves to the outfield and Sheets to DH, or Sheets can play outfield defense).

However, if Gavin Sheets wants to hit 20 home runs if given extended playing time, then he needs to improve his offensive game from last year. In 2021, Sheets hit 11 home runs in 179 plate appearances. However, when given the opportunity to play more in 2022 and had 410 plate appearances, Sheets only hit 15 home runs. 400-500 plate appearances seem realistically possible for Gavin Sheets in 2023, and given Sheets’ profile as a hitter, you don’t have to squint too hard to imagine Sheets hitting at least 20 homers given that many chances; however, the likelihood of both happening seem slim.

Likelihood of Hitting 20+ HRs: * in Angels in the Outfield voice * It could happen.

Second Baseman

As of this writing, either Lenyn Sosa or Romy Gonzalez will play second base for the White Sox. Neither player will hit over 20 home runs. End of discussion.

Likelihood of Hitting 20+ HRs: 0%.

Do you agree with this list? Which White Sox do you believe will hit at least 20 home runs for the Pale Hose next year?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Featured Image: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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Dave Ehrlich

Why is there seemingly no talk about solving 2B problem with Moncada, who started there? Then give Burger a shot at third. He would hit 20+. He was leading, then tied for team lead on very limited time until far into the season while in the minors.

John Smith

I think they will wind up with like 3 guys with 20, probably Eloy, Vaughn, Robert. But I think they will be lucky if anybody hits 30, because Eloy and Robert have not played 100 games in a season since 2020. They are both a good bet to miss significant time even if less than the past 2 years.

If Colas does well and hits 20 it would be great. He’s one of the only reasons this team could be worth watching. Their upside is so limited due to how little depth they have and the fact that they need several less than high probability things to go right just to be halfway decent. But if Colas is a much better than league worst RF like they’ve had the past 3 years, it will be a step in the right direction.

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