If this is what Jose Abreu can do in the cold, it will be very interesting to see what happens when temperatures warm up this summer. The Cuban born rookie has told reporters that he is not a big fan of the cool Chicago April weather, but the conditions have not deterred his production at the plate.With three days left in the month, the first baseman has crushed 10 home runs and drove in 31 runs in just 26 games. With his home run and four runs batted in on Sunday as part of the White Sox 9-2 win over the Rays, Abreu has shattered both rookie power records for the month with still three games remaining before April draws to a close.
The previous record of nine home runs by a rookie in the month of April was held by Kent Hrbek, Albert Pujols, Carlos Delgado, and, of course, the White Sox’ Abreu. The 27-year-old slugger joined this prestigious group in grand fashion on Friday by belting a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth of the White Sox 9-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. The slam was Abreu’s second home run of the game and it also gave him six runs batted in. At the time, the six plated runs also tied Abreu with Pujols for the most runs batted in by a rookie in the month of April with 27. After Sunday’s continued barrage on Tampa Bay pitching, however, both records solely belong to Abreu with plenty of time to put some distance between himself and the rest of the pack. Following Sunday’s contest, Rays, manager Joe Maddon had nothing but praise for the young slugger.
“[Abreu is] pretty strong,” the coach said. “…He is good. He’s gonna get better.”
Also worthy of noting, baseball statistician Scott Merkin reports that The White Sox’ slugger is the first player in Major League history to record four games with at least four runs batted in his first 26 games in the big leagues. This from a player that most scouts could not make up their mind about one way or another when the White Sox signed him to a six-year, $68 million contract this off-season.
The White Sox first baseman is not only the class of Major League rookies so far this season, but he is also giving the veterans a run for their money. Abreu’s 10 home runs, 31 runs batted in and .961 slugging percentage are all tops in the Major Leagues through 26 games. Also, the rookie’s OPS of .962 ranks No. 6 in the American League.
“I go [out everyday] to play baseball, help the team,” said the Cuban rookie first baseman. “I really don’t go looking for records, but they’re definitely welcome. That’s not something that I [seek out], but it’s a nice thing.”
It is a nice thing that has Abreu on top of the list of potential Rookie of the Year candidates already this season, and if it continues, it could very possibly have the 27-year-old first year player in the Most Valuable Player discussion before all is said and done.
“He’s good,” said Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura. “…He’s making adjustments and doing it between at-bats, between pitches. Everything has kind of been an adjustment for him. He just continues to impress.”
Commentary by Jeremy Mika, GLV Sports Writer for the Chicago White Sox