Jose Abreu In Same Conversation As Ruth, Mantle, Aaron?
When the Chicago White Sox signed 27-year-old Jose Abreu to a six-year $68 million contract before he’d ever taken the field in game in the major leagues, many people questioned whether guaranteeing the Cuban slugger that amount of cash was a wise business move.
It’s only been a month, but it certainly seems worth it.
As April comes to an end, Abreu is leading the majors in home runs (10), RBI (32), total bases (67), slugging percentage (.626) and extra-base hits (17). (Note: All statistics current as of 4/29/14)
No matter what happens during the last couple games of the month, Abreu will end April with the record for the most home runs hit by a MLB rookie before May 1. The previous record holders – Albert Pujols for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001, Carlos Delgado for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1994 and Kent Hrbek of the 1982 Minnesota Twins – each had eight.
Abreu also set a major league rookie record for RBIs through the end of April when he passed Pujols yet again by knocking in four runs on Sunday. He had begun the day tied with the former St. Louis star, who had 27 RBI in April 2001 for the Cardinals. The four RBI on Sunday also made Abreu the first player in Major League history to have four 4-plus RBI games in his first 26 career games.
"I didn't have these expectations, especially with the cold weather, the way it is right now. But once again, I've got to thank God,” Abreu said through an interpreter after the game. "You know, I go to the field to play baseball, help the team. I really don't go looking for records, but they're definitely welcome."
The rookie also has a few more records (and the chance to extend them):
Abreu's 32 RBIs in April for the White Sox breaks Paul Konerko’s franchise mark of 28 in 2002.
The 32 RBI are also the most by a White Sox player in any month since Frank Thomas had 31 in August 2003.
Abreu’s tied Zeke Bonura’s 1934 mark for most homeruns 26 through career games.
Whether he sets any more records or not, Abreu has already helped transform a Chicago offense that finished dead-last in runs and second-to-last in OBP and OPS in the American League in 2013.
People are noticing.
“(It’s like) when Detroit acquires Miguel Cabrera, you know? Or Mike Trout surfaces in Anaheim,” Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon said before his team lost to the White Sox on Monday. “There’s always these prodigy kind of players out there, that when they show up it’s a combination of great work ethic, calm and an ability to go out there and perform. That’s what I see with him.”
If the rest of Abreu’s year is anything like his April, Maddon comparing him to perennial MVP candidates like Cabrera and Trout will, amazingly, be fairly accurate.
Evan Bleier is a freelance writer based out of wherever he can plug in his laptop. You can send him questions, comments and Buffalo wing suggestions @itishowitis or "like" CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.
Photo Credit: Getty