White Sox rookie Daniel Palka most likely will not win any MLB awards for his rookie season, but it’s not for a lack of trying.
When it comes to home runs, the White Sox slugger could teach a clinic on the skill. He’s so good at hitting them that he is leading several lists.
With the home run he hit against the Cubs on Friday night, he set a new pinch-hitting record for the Sox.
According to Scott Merkin with MLB.com, that pinch-hit home run was his fourth of the season. With that two-run dinger, Palka now holds the single-season record for pinch-hit home runs.
And, he did it in his rookie year.
Prior to Palka’s fourth home run, three ChiSox players were tied at three pinch-hit home runs each. Those players were Ron Northey, who set the original record in 1956; John Romano, who tied it in 1959; and Oscar Gamble, who put his name in the record books in 1977. It is amazing to consider that no other ChiSox batter was able to join that list or top it prior to Palka. (I’m thinking big hitters like Albert Belle, Frank Thomas, and Paul Konerko).
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That home run also put him atop another important list: the 2018 MLB rookie home run list. Ronald Acuna, Jr has 26 home runs and Miguel Andujar has 25. Unfortunately, topping this list will not earn him the AL Rookie of the Year Award, simply because his other batting stats, especially his slash is too low.
Along with leading the MLB rookies with home runs, Palka is also leading the 2018 White Sox with home runs. He should stay at the top, too. It is rather amazing that a rookie who was claimed off of waivers has hit more home runs than Jose Abreu, Matt Davidson, and Avisail Garcia.
There are two lists that Palka will not top in his rookie season. The current record for home runs hit by a ChiSox rookie was set in 1983 by Ron Kittle. The other list he will not top is the most pinch hits in a season. That record belongs to Smoky Burgess, who in 66 at-bats as a pinch hitter had 21 hits in 1966. He set this record in his penultimate season, where he only served as a pinch-hitter. Interestingly, none of those 21 hits was a home run.
Congratulations to Daniel Palka for his outstanding rookie season. We, fans, appreciate his hard work and effort. Hopefully, he’ll get plenty more chances to hit home runs in 2019 – but that’s a post for another day.