clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Sox rookie Eloy Jimenez is in it for the long ball

Power Jimenez has shown in age-22 season bodes well for his career.

Sox rookie Eloy Jimenez rounds the bases after hitting a home run Sept. 11 against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Sox rookie Eloy Jimenez rounds the bases after hitting a home run Sept. 11 against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field.
David Banks/Getty Images

Eloy Jimenez isn’t having the best overall rookie season in White Sox history. That honor belongs to Tommie Agee, whose star-level 6.4 bWAR in 1966 tops Jose Abreu (5.8 in 2014) and Minnie Minoso (5.2 in 1951).

But Jimenez has established himself as a top power source at age 22, and that bodes well for his future.

Jimenez entered play Friday with 28 home runs, the third-most for a Sox rookie behind Abreu (36) and Ron Kittle (35 in 1983).

The younger a player is when he establishes he can handle big-league pitching, the more room there is for growth in his game.

Abreu is a special case, having come to the Sox from Cuba as basically a finished product at age 27. He has provided consistent power, with four seasons of 30 or more homers.

Kittle’s breakthrough came at 25. He had one more 30-homer-plus season — 32 in 1984 — and two of 20-plus while totaling 176 homers in a career that ended in 1991.

In baseball history, there have been 60 age-22 seasons with 25 or more homers, including 16 by active players.

Of the 44 retired players who hit 25 or more at age 22, 16 are in the Hall of Fame. At the low end of the Hall of Famers is Hank Aaron with 26, and at the high end is Joe DiMaggio with 46. Twenty-seven of the 44 went on to hit at least 300 homers in their careers. Another 10 hit at least 200.

Thirty homers are within Jimenez’s grasp. If he makes it, he will join a smaller group of 24 players who hit at least 30 at age 22, with eight still active. Of the 16 retirees, six are in the Hall (37.5 percent). The group includes Alex Rodriguez, who is not yet Hall-eligible.

Ten of the 16 hit at least 300 homers in their careers, led by Rodriguez (696), Frank Robinson (586), Jimmie Foxx (534), Ted Williams (521) and Eddie Mathews (512). All but two hit at least 200.

Parts of Jimenez’s game could be stronger, starting with his outfield defense. A minus-1.3 defensive WAR has limited his overall Baseball-Reference.com WAR to 1.1. A .314 on-base percentage could stand shoring up.

But his homers put Jimenez in a sweet spot among players who have gone on to power-packed careers after age 22.

HIDDEN FIGURES

4 — That’s how many multihomer games Eloy Jimenez has, tied for the most by a rookie in team history with Zeke Bonura (1934) and Jose Abreu (2014). Got one more really big day in you before the season ends, kid?

1 — The loneliest number. Also, the number of reporters who predicted — out loud, no less — that Daniel Palka would have a multihit game Wednesday against the Twins. He went 0-for-3, falling to an almost-impossible-to-believe 2-for-64 (.031) this season.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • In their 12-inning loss Tuesday at Minnesota, the Sox had 20 hits. It was the first time this season any major-league team has had that many hits and failed to win. The Sox have taken an ‘‘L’’ with 20 or more hits six times in franchise history. Their record for hits in defeat: 24 against the St. Louis Browns in 1924.
  • The Sox entered their weekend series in Detroit with Tim Anderson leading the AL batting race at .335 and Yoan Moncada fifth at .312. The last time the team had teammates finish among the top five was 1972, when Dick Allen and Carlos May tied for third at .308.

THAT’S WHAT HE SAID

‘‘Next season, you are going to see a change. Next season is going to be way better than this one. I’m going to prepare better. It’s going to be a way different season.’’

Reynaldo Lopez, after his record dropped to 9-14 with a loss Monday to the Twins

‘‘What kind of question is that? You ever seen this guy play center field?’’

Yolmer Sanchez, poking his head into an interview to chastise a reporter for asking Adam Engel if his spectacular defensive play Wednesday in Minneapolis was the best of his career

‘‘I’m a little bit sore right now just because I think I’m twitching a lot, moving around [too much] during the game. But I feel great.’’

Rick Renteria, 12 days after surgery on his right rotator cuff, six games into a road trip and probably in more discomfort than he was letting on