Nobody saw this one coming. The Chicago White Sox scored the most runs of any team in the Major Leagues throughout the month of April. Of course, they also gave up the most runs of any team, but it made for an exciting month anyway. The great offense and suspect pitching has the White Sox just under .500 at 14-15. Not great, but also not as bad as many prognosticators predicted them to start the year. A big part of the offensive renaissance on the South Side is due to the play of rookie first baseman Jose Abreu and six-year veteran shortstop Alexei Ramirez. This Cuban connection has loaded the White Sox with the offensive firepower to not only be competitive in the AL Central, but has them poised to contend for the division crown.
Abreu has gone from the big question mark at the beginning of the season to the big exclamation point as the month of April has drawn to a close. The 6-foot-4 slugger who emigrated from Cuba this off-season was nothing more than a big body with lots of potential to most scouts when the White Sox signed him to a 6-year, $64 million contract last winter. With the closed nature of the Cuban baseball league specifically, and the country of Cuba in general, it was difficult for teams to get a solid grasp of what Abreu had to offer. Well, they know now, and outside of the Sox’ organization they are all probably kicking themselves. Abreu began his Major League career by shattering the Big League record for both home runs and runs batted in for the month of April. He hit 10 home runs for the month while driving in 32.
Player of the Month: As good as Abreu has been for the White Sox, his fellow countryman Alexei Ramirez has been even better. The 32-year-old shortstop has traditionally been a cold starter when it comes to production at the plate, but this season he dumped that moniker in a big way. Ramirez hit safely in 27 of 29 games to start the season. As part of that he opened the year on a 17-game hitting streak. Also, on Wednesday Ramirez closed out the month with a single in the fourth inning of a 5-1 loss to the Tigers that gave him 40 hits in March and April. That is a White Sox record to start the season, and it breaks Paul Konerko’s club mark of 39. Not only that, but all of those hits have equated to an American League leading .351 average that has Ramirez’ name being given serious MVP consideration at this early stage of the season.
Pitcher of the Month: By far, White Sox Ace Chris Sale has been the best pitcher for the club in the month of April. The only problem for Sale and the Sox is that he is currently on the 15-day disabled list trying to rehabilitate a strained flexor muscle. Sale may be able to return to the team this weekend or sometime next week, and it could not be soon enough for a staff that has given up the most runs in baseball. When healthy, Sale stormed out of the gate with a 3-0 record and a 2.30 earned run average. The 25-year-old left-hander has struck out 29 so far this season and walked just seven in just over 27 innings of work. His leadership is needed for a staff that has posted a 4.81 earned run average through the first 29 games of the season.
Commentary by Jeremy Mika
GLV Sports Writer for the Chicago White Sox