Jose Abreu Living up to Lofty Expectations as an American League Rookie
Chicago White Sox
Among the American League leaders in homeruns
Through July 4th weekend, Chicago White Sox rookie first basemen Jose Abreu was tied for the American League lead in homeruns. This total also leads the Major Leagues in homeruns, and with 27 of them, is good for a tie with outfielder Nelson Cruz of the Baltimore Orioles. Nelson Cruz hit a homerun in Monday's game though, to give him the lead in homeruns again. Still for Abreu this is an extremely impressive performance, and he is meeting the power expectations that were placed on him after signing with the White Sox on a 5 year deal worth 68 million dollars. As a player who defected from Cuba, Jose Abreu is considered a rookie at age 27 in the Major Leagues. The one thing that makes Abreu even different than some of the power hitters in the White Sox lineup, is that he is up there to drive in runs and this means he is going to swing the bat.
The power from a rookie
Since Jose Abreu did not come into the league through the MLB draft process, he arrived at the big league level as he was approaching his prime years. Still this is a very impressive season that he is putting together with all the homeruns after having missed time with a stint on the disabled list earlier in the year. So far the only player in the Major Leagues who has hit more homeruns than him, has more than 40 more at bats. Abreu is homering once in just over every 11 at bats that he has, and his spray chart tells the story. In home games this season, Jose Abreu has hit as many homeruns to right field as he has to left field. This shows that Abreu is able to drive the ball wherever it is pitched, and his high homerun total to centerfield shows that he is a threat to hit one out to the deepest part of the park in any at bat. This type of performance will cause pitchers to pitch timidly to Jose Abreu, but for right now he continues to get pitches to hit and he is driving them to all fields.
Abreu the run producer
Jose Abreu is a middle of the order hitter who goes up to the plate looking to drive any and every pitch he sees. He does not go up to the plate looking to take a walk, but he will take a walk if he is waiting out the pitcher and gets no pitches to his liking. This approach can be flawed at times, because it can lead to a complete lack of selectiveness at the plate when runners are in scoring position, however Abreu seems to have perfected the approach this season. He has been able to elevate his game when runners are in scoring position, where he bats .300 with a .388 on base percentage and a .757 slugging percentage. This shows that even though Jose Abreu is swinging in an effort to crush the baseball, he does have a selective approach with runners in scoring position. So far this season Abreu's approach has allowed him to become the ideal cleanup hitter in the American League. There is a chance that pitchers will adjust to Abreu, but his consistency and contact skills suggest that his numbers are quite sustainable.
Before Abreu was signed out of Cuba this past offseason, some comparisons to Miguel Cabrera were floated out there by optimistic scouting reports. These comparisons no longer seem like so much of a stretch after seeing what he has been able to accomplish in the first half of his rookie season. Jose Abreu currently does not possess quite the same skills that Cabrera has, but right now he may be the closest hitter to Cabrera among that next tier of hitters in the American League. As a rookie who is just entering his prime years, this could be just the beginning of the emergence of another star first basemen in baseball. Baseball fans are in for more amazing moments as the White Sox look to rebuild their franchise with star first basemen Jose Abreu as the player they are building around.