One of the Chicago White Sox‘s biggest offseason moves in 2020 was hiring Frank Menechino to be the new hitting coach. Menechino was selected by the White Sox in the 45th round of the 1993 MLB draft out of the University of Alabama. His career was nothing special.
He played seven seasons in the major leagues as an infielder with the Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays. He finished his career hitting .240 with 58 doubles, 36 home runs, 149 RBIs, and a .358 OBP.
Menechino started his coaching career in the Yankees organization in 2009 as a hitting coach for Class AA Trenton. Menechino proved to be a great hitting coach. He was promoted to be the Miami Marlins hitting coach in 2017 and oversaw the squad hit 194 home runs, the third-highest total in franchise history.
He spent his first season in the White Sox organization in 2019 with Class AAA Charlotte. While in Charlotte, he helped work with Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. He helped guide the Knights offense to an International League-best 792 runs scored and a franchise-record 208 home runs.
The Chicago White Sox need more from their offense in 2022 if they want to advance.
When the White Sox fired Todd Steverson after the 2019 season they promptly promoted Menechino to the big league club. The early returns looked promising. The White Sox ranked among the American League leaders and received several individual accolades in his first season as major-league hitting coach.
The White Sox led the AL in home runs (96, a franchise record through 60 games), slugging percentage, run differential, and ranked second in average, runs scored, and OPS. Menechino stresses a patient approach that involves hitting strikes and not chasing outside the strike zone. When the White Sox are at their best offensively, they are taking their walks.
Unfortunately, some problems emerged during the 2021 season that must be addressed. The White Sox offense was riddled with inconsistency. They lived on the home run ball posting a 79-47 record when they hit a home run.
When they hit multiple home runs they were 44-6. However, the White Sox did not hit home runs at a very prolific clip in 2021. They ranked 19th in baseball with 190 homers. That was the lowest amount of any team that qualified for the postseason.
Another problem was the ground ball rate from White Sox hitters. They had the third-highest ground ball percentage in the MLB this season at 46.1%. They were the only team in the top 12 ground ball percentage to make the playoffs this year.
The slugging percentage in the league on ground balls is .266. If you want to be effective in today’s game, you need to drive the ball in the air. Three of the final four postseason teams were among baseball bottom four in ground ball percentage.
Some of the White Sox biggest stars contributed to the problem. Tim Anderson had a ground ball 55% ground ball rate. Eloy Jimenez posted a 48% mark. Meanwhile, Jose Abreu had a ground ball rate of 46% which is why he hit into 28 double plays.
While Menechino has established himself as a first-class hitting coach, some adjustments may have to be made this offseason.