The White Sox have a future MVP candidate in Jose Abreu to build around.
When MLB teams decide to make a commitment and sign a player to a long-term deal, there is some risk involved. It can be tough to know if the player will produce for the life of the contract, and the other aspect is the player someone that the team can build around for the future. This is something that might force many general managers around baseball to have sleepless nights. However, there is one GM that can rest easy, knowing he made the right decision last year.
Chicago White Sox GM Rick Hahn signed Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million contract last October. Once the deal was announced, it was unknown if this was a smart move by the White Sox. The scouting reports on Abreu were that he had tremendous power, but it’s tough to gauge how that power will translate. If the first-half of the 2014 season is any indication, I would say Hahn is a genius for signing him.
Abreu in 322 at-bats has 29 home runs, 73 RBI, 20 doubles and 49 runs scored. He is hitting .292 and the OPS is very impressive at .972. The slugging first baseman handles right-handed pitchers with no problems, as indicated by his .299 average and .984 OPS in 241 at-bats against them.
He remains productive against southpaws by hitting .272 and having an OPS of .937 in 81 at-bats. Abreu knows what to do with runners in scoring position, as he has a .292 batting average and 46 RBI in this situation. He leads the American League in at-bats per home run at 11.1, and was selected as an All-Star in his first season.
The Slugging first baseman has already earned the AL Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month for April. He has to be considered a favorite to win the AL Rookie of the Year, especially if he continues crushing the baseball.
Abreu give the White Sox a great element of power in their lineup, and the team knows that a comeback is always possible. He can have a direct impact of the game with just one swing. The one thing that he will have to work on is cutting down his 82 strikeouts. This is an area that most power hitters have to deal with, but I expect over time it will improve for him.
He isn’t the only Cuban player having a good season, as his teammate shortstop Alexei Ramirez is performing at a high level. Ramirez is hitting .282 with 25 extra-base hits and 41 RBI in 365 at-bats, along with stealing 15 bases.
Some other Cuban players hitting well are Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. Cespedes has 14 home runs and 56 RBI in 353 at-bats, while scoring 53 runs and having a .741 OPS. He just won his second consecutive Home Run Derby title. Puig in 343 at-bats is hitting .309 with 12 home runs and 52 RBI. He has an OPS of .915 and was selected as an All-Star for the first time in his career.
Chicago has some young talent on their roster and Abreu is definitely part of their future. He is someone the club can build around, and it would be insane to even consider the thought of trading him.
The type of power he possesses is special and I expect him to be with the White Sox for a long time. He shouldn’t have any problems performing throughout the life of the contract, as long as he stays healthy.