White Sox rookie Jose Abreu is finishing up an historic April run. He has already surpassed the rookie record for most home runs in the month of April (10), and for the most RBI’s (32). He is currently the major league leader in both categories. In the process of putting up those numbers, he has also managed to notch three multi-home run games. Good for yet another rookie record.
On Monday, Abreu was named the AL’s c0-player of the week. In Large part due to his three home runs in a three game span versus the Tampa Bay Rays. Which featured a walk-off two-out grand slam in the bottom of the ninth, when the White Sox trailed the Rays by a score of 6-5. After 27 games into his professional career, the White Sox slugger is on pace to hit 60 home runs and drive in 192 runs in his first season as a Major Leaguer. His effort thus far has been nothing short of amazing.
There are not many doubters around the league now. However, when the Sox slugger agreed to terms on a six year contract this past off-season for sixty-eight million dollars, there were plenty of folks around the league who thought perhaps the White Sox were reaching a bit with the move. After all, shelling out that kind of money to a 27 year-old Cuban defective, with no major league experience, isn’t exactly a conventional way for a general manager to kick-start the rebuilding process for a team coming off of a 99 loss season.
Well, just like his big hitting first basemen has thus far into the season, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn swung for the fences and has seemingly connected. Abreu has even managed to defy the expectations of those who were in full support of him coming to Chicago. Many analysts, experts, and fans alike felt that the adjustment period to both a new country and a new league would be too quick and harsh for Abreu. That perhaps he would get off to a bit of a slow start in cold and windy Chicago, and then heat up along with the weather when the summer began to set in along the lake front.
It turns out that even his supporters around the city of Chicago could not have been more wrong. The Cuban slugger has burst into the league on an historically hot pace. Putting himself not only amongst the early candidates for AL rookie of the year. Believe it or not, without even playing a full month into his career. There’s already early rumblings of MVP talk beginning to swirl around the first basemen.
Not only has the White Sox Abreu shattered multiple rookie records as he finishes up his historic April run. He also has a chance to make league history, as he enters a two game series with Detroit. If the Cuban slugger can drive in four runs during the series, he’ll set the all-time major league record for runs batted-in during the month of April. A record that is now held by former Rangers and Tigers outfielder Juan Gonzalez. Who managed to drive in 35 runs during April of 1998.
In order to set the record though, Abreu will have his work cut out for him. He will have to go through Detroit’s dynamic one-two punch of Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. Who are also perhaps two of the league’s most dominant pitchers. However, the Cy Young award winning Verlander didn’t seem to phase Abreu too much the first time the two met just over a week ago in Detroit. As Abreu homered to dead center in his first ever career at-bat against the hard throwing right hander. He would eventually also notch a base-hit later in the game, finishing 2 for 3 on the evening.
Fans on the south-side of Chicago did not have much, if anything to cheer about last year in the midst of a hopeless and dreadful 99 loss campaign. However, if nothing else, the excitement surrounding what looks like a promising youth movement along with the stellar play of Jose Abreu should provide more than enough for White Sox fans to keep tuning in as we move on throughout this very long season.
After all, it is not just the rookie Abreu’s historic April run that has optimism once again brewing around this team. Teammates Tyler Flowers and Adam Eaton have come on extremely strong early on for the White Sox. While his Cuban counterparts Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez have both taken turns leading the major league’s in hitting. Who knows? With the way this offense has come on early this season, perhaps the team has legitimate chance to hang around in this AL Central race deep into the summer time.
Commentary by Richard Glenn