Jose Abreu

Predicting where Jose Abreu will rank on White Sox leaderboards by the end of his current contract

Predicting where Jose Abreu will rank on White Sox leaderboards by the end of his current contract

Jose Abreu has spent six mighty good years on the South Side. And after having one of his more productive seasons in 2019, he shows no signs of slowing down.

While there were certain areas last year that showed noticeable dips, Abreu drove in a career-high 123 runs and won the AL RBI crown. He also came within three home runs of a career high. With an improved lineup around him that features Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnacion and Luis Robert (not to mention the youngsters he’s been mentoring for years like Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez and Tim Anderson), his offensive number should be better than ever.

Abreu already ranks high on many franchise leaderboards. He’s sixth on the team’s all-time home run list behind a trio of Hall of Famers in Frank Thomas, Harold Baines and Carlton Fisk, as well as franchise icon Paul Konerko and six-time All-Star Magglio Ordonez.

With a new three-year contract, Abreu has plenty of time to climb even higher on the list of all-time White Sox greats. But with baseball looking at a shortened 2020 season due the global COVID-19 pandemic, the number of games Abreu and everyone else will play this year is uncertain.

But considering how consistent (and durable) Abreu has been since arriving from Cuba, it’s not unreasonable to predict where he might rank by the end of his current contract.

It sure sounds like Abreu wants to remain in a White Sox uniform for the entirety of his career, and the feeling appears to be mutual. So perhaps there are more than three seasons’ worth of production on the horizon for the face of the franchise. But for now, we’ll just look at where he might stand by the end of the 2022 season.

Home runs

As mentioned, Abreu currently ranks sixth on the White Sox all-time home run list with 179. As long as the 2020 season features even a little more than a month’s worth of games, Abreu should pass Ordonez’ 187 home runs this year.

His 162-game average of 32 homers would get him within three of Fisk’s 214, but as mentioned, it's unlikely there will be a full slate of games this season. So while it wouldn’t take a career-high for Abreu to match Fisk in 2020, that’s probably going to have to wait until 2021. Then, it’s only seven more dingers to tie Baines for third with 221.

Thomas and Konerko are probably unreachable at the top of the list, with Konerko hitting 211 more home runs in a White Sox uniform than Hall of Famer Baines. So while it won’t be too long before Abreu ranks third, that’s probably where he’ll stay. Even if he keeps playing after the end of this current contract, he’ll need to more than double the amount he hit in six years to reach Konerko in the No. 2 spot.

Predicted ranking by end of 2022: No. 3

RBIs

Abreu is No. 13 on the White Sox all-time RBI list with 611. And after another full season, he would likely be in the top 10. Abreu has driven in at least 100 runs in five of his six major league seasons, his injury-shortened 2018 the lone outlier. He reached a career high in the category last season with 123. Over the course of 162 games, he averages 110.

Even a very short 2020 season would probably get him to No. 11 on the list, as he’s only 20 RBIs short of Sherm Lollar. But Ordonez is 10th with 703, pushing Abreu’s ascent into the top 10 into 2021.

By the time this contract is said and done, Abreu will be in the top five. If you figure he’s good for at least 200 RBIs, combined, in 2021 and 2022, that should shoot him up to fifth, where Minnie Minoso currently ranks with 808 RBIs. Abreu will probably get more than 200 over the next three seasons, but he might not get the requisite 173 additional RBIs that would allow him to catch Baines’ 981 RBIs at No. 4.

Predicted ranking by end of 2022: No. 5

Runs scored

Abreu currently ranks 29th on the White Sox all-time runs scored list. His 162-game average is 87. so just using that number for 2021 and 2022 would send Abreu to 657 runs scored, which would get him to 13th, ahead of both Ordonez and Baines.

He would need 36 additional runs scored to get into the top 10 by the end of his contract. I know we’re working backward here, but it’s a necessity with this season facing so much uncertainty. Ozzie Guillen and Fielder Jones are tied for 10th with 693 runs scored, and Ray Durham is almost 100 ahead of them with 784 in ninth.

I’ll cross my fingers and hope we see enough baseball in 2020 for Abreu to score 36 runs.

Predicted ranking by end of 2022: No. 10

Hits

Abreu ranks 25th on this list with 1,038 career hits. His 162-game average is 187 hits. Applying that to 2021 and 2022 gets him to 1,412, which would pass Ray Schalk for a spot in the top 10.

It would also put him 111 hits behind Minoso, who’s in ninth with 1,523. Could there be enough baseball in 2020 for Abreu to rack up at least 111 hits? Mathematically, he’d need about 97 games to reach that number. It's possible but no sure thing.

Predicted ranking by end of 2022: No. 10

Doubles

Could Abreu make it into the top five in doubles? It’s something he does quite well, averaging 39 of them over a 162-game span.

He ranks 17th in White Sox history with 218. Adding 39 for both 2021 and 2022 gets him to 296, which would be sixth all time, ahead of Eddie Collins’ 266. He would be less than a season away from Baines in the No. 5 spot with 320. But catching the Hall of Famer by the time his current contract is up is contingent on the 2020 season being long enough for Abreu to rack up at least 24 doubles.

Mathematically, it’s at least 100 games.

Predicted ranking by end of 2022: No. 6

Strikeouts

Obviously, this one isn’t a leaderboard you want to be at the top of, but it’s populated with the same players on the all-time home runs list: Konerko is No. 1 in franchise history, and Abreu isn’t catching him by the end of 2020. Konerko struck out 1,349 times with the White Sox.

Abreu could reach the second spot, occupied by Thomas and his 1,165 strikeouts. Abreu currently ranks fifth, with Baines and Fisk ahead of him, as well.

Abreu has 776 strikeouts in his career and if he strikes out with the same frequency he did in his first six seasons would put him in second place. Add his average of 140 strikeouts over 162 games to his total for the next three seasons, and you’d get 1,196, passing Thomas.

Predicted ranking by end of 2022: No. 3

Hit by pitch

It’s certainly the most painful of list to be a part of. Abreu has already been hit by 80 pitches in his career. The 162-game average is 14, easily putting him up over 100 for his career by the time his current contract is up.

Only four players have been hit by more than 100 pitches in a White Sox uniform. Konerko and Lollar tied for the No. 3 spot with 101 apiece. Abreu should easily pass that in three season. The challenge will be getting into the top two, where Nellie Fox sits with 125. It’s unlikely he’ll catch Minnie Minoso, who was hit by 145 pitches in his career.

Predicted ranking by end of 2022: No. 3

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Watch: The three longest home runs the White Sox hit on the South Side in 2019

Watch: The three longest home runs the White Sox hit on the South Side in 2019

You might have heard that a lot of home runs were hit in Major League Baseball in 2019.

Something to do with a new kind of ball or something, right?

Well, if you love home runs, you don't care why they were hit, you're just happy that you got to see some of your favorite players, not-so-favorite players and just plain players you've never heard of sock a whole bunch of dingers.

Turns out that in addition to those home runs landing really far from home plate, they landed in the record books, too.

In perusing a couple of leaderboards in the White Sox media guide, you'll find that three of the eight longest home runs hit by White Sox batters in Guaranteed Rate Field history came last season — and they all traveled the exact same number of feet.

So while you wait a really long while for baseball to return, why not watch these three homers that went a really long way?

Eloy Jimenez, 462 feet, June 11 vs. Nationals

Jimenez went all the way until mid June before hitting his first home run on the South Side. But when he did, it was a doozy. Jimenez ended up making a habit of blasting majestic homers out to dead center field during his rookie season, and though it was impressive every time, none popped eyes quite like this one, which bounced off the stairs on the side of the Fan Deck.

The fact it came off Patrick Corbin, who got the win in Game 7 of the World Series in October, was pretty cool, too.

Yoan Moncada, 462 feet, July 3 vs. Tigers

What a day July 3 was for these White Sox. First Dylan Cease made his big league debut and got the win in the first half of a doubleheader against the Tigers. Then the White Sox brought the thunder in Game 2. Jose Abreu's walk-off homer in the 12th inning will go down as more memorable, but Yoan Moncada's game-tying shot off All-Star closer Shane Greene in the 10th was the longer of the two drives, matching the distance of Jimenez's home run from less than a month earlier.

Jose Abreu, 462 feet, Sept. 8 vs. Angels

And speaking of Abreu, we haven't forgotten about Pito. Two months after he walked off the Tigers, he matched the distance of his locker buddies' drives with the longest South Side home run of his White Sox career.

It was part of a red-hot September for Abreu. He hit .286/.360/.520 with five homers and 21 RBIs over the season's final month, ending the campaign as the American League RBI champ.

Now, on a less jovial note for White Sox fans, it's important to mention these three homers weren't even in the top three longest ones hit at The Rate last season.

Unsurprisingly, Twins slugger Nelson Cruz had the two longest drives, a 473-foot shot off Lucas Giolito in July that currently ranks as the sixth longest homer in the stadium's history and a 469-footer off Jose Ruiz in June that ranks as the eighth longest in the park's history. Astros star George Springer also outdid the aforementioned White Sox trio with a 467-foot homer off Cease in August.

But we'll end this with a positive memory for the South Side faithful. Let's dial the wayback machine all the way to 2004 for the longest home run ever hit at Guaranteed Rate Field, the 504-foot moonshot off the bat of Joe Borchard.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Amid other questions, White Sox can count on Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion in middle of lineup

Amid other questions, White Sox can count on Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion in middle of lineup

For all the question marks surrounding the upcoming season, the White Sox two veteran sluggers are as close to sure things as you're going to get.

Thanks to the consistent production Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion have put up over the course of their big league careers, the White Sox know what they’re going to get out of the middle of their suddenly more powerful lineup.

Obviously, everyone on the South Side knows what to expect from Abreu. Despite a couple freak injuries in 2018 that derailed his streak of 25-homer and 100-RBI seasons since coming to the majors, Abreu bounced right back in 2019 with some of the best production of his career, winning the American League RBI crown and coming just a few homers shy of matching his career high.

Throw in the consistent presence he provides in the clubhouse as a model for the team’s young players, and you’ve got the most reliable bat in the lineup and arguably the most important person on the roster.

“Everybody knows the kind of person that he is. Everybody knows he’s our leader. He’s our mentor,” Yoan Moncada said through team interpreter Billy Russo. “He’s been on this team, in the big leagues for a long time now and he’s always trying to lead by example. He’s always trying to take care of the young guys, but actually he’s always trying to take care of everybody around the team.

“Everybody follows him. I follow him. The other guys follow him because he’s an example for all of us. That’s something that really has stuck with us about Pito.”

Moncada’s evaluation of his countryman and locker buddy ought to explain plenty about why the White Sox handed Abreu a new three-year contract this winter. What he’s done with the bat in a White Sox uniform should be enough explanation, as well.

But some worrywarts out there point to Abreu’s advancing age and dips in certain statistical areas in recent seasons as causes for alarm. After reaching base at a .359 clip in his first four seasons, he did so at a .328 mark over the last two seasons. His 152 strikeouts in 2019 were a career high. His OPS-plus, where 100 is league average, went from 142 in his first four seasons (when he was 42 percent better than the average big league hitter) to 119 the last two years.

The 33-year-old Abreu, though, has no designs on this being some sort of three-year victory lap.

“My career is still on. I'm still playing. I haven't had any thoughts about retirement or anything,” he said, through Russo. “I still want to win. I still want to compete.

“I was talking about this with my mom, saying I still feel that love for the game. If for whatever reason I reach a moment in the future in my career when I don't feel that love, then OK, I will know that it's time for retirement. But if I don't get to that point, there's going to be plenty of me for you guys (the media) to cover.”

Need proof of production well after 30? Look no further than the White Sox new designated hitter. The 37-year-old Encarnacion has blasted 255 home runs since his 30th birthday, with at least 32 home runs in each of the last eight seasons. After the White Sox racked up one of the lowest home run totals in baseball last season, Encarnacion is a big part of the injection of thump into the 2020 batting order.

With 34 dingers in just 109 games last season with the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees, he ought to bring plenty in a full slate of games, health permitting, for the White Sox as they try to chase down their first playoff berth in more than a decade.

“Edwin Encarnacion, that's the missing piece,” Abreu said. “I think that's the piece in our lineup that we were missing. I'm just excited to start playing along with him. I'm just excited to have him here.

“We all know the kind of player he is. We all know what he's capable of doing on the field with his bat. That's a big addition for us.”

But much like Abreu has been the perfect blend of on-field production and off-field mentorship for these White Sox, Encarnacion will bring his veteran expertise to the South Side, too.

Like Dallas Keuchel and Yasmani Grandal, Encarnacion is a veteran of many a playoff run, and he’s part of the heaping dose of winning experience Rick Hahn’s front office added during the offseason.

He’s been to the last five postseasons, and he’s already seeing similarities.

“We have the talent on this team,” Encarnacion said. “This team makes me remember the team that we had in 2015 with the Blue Jays. A lot of young talents, a few veteran guys and we put everything together and this team is going to be right.

“If you're going to win, we've got to be together like a team. Pick up your teammates. That's why you have to stay together. If your teammate does something wrong, you're going to feel it and you're going to want to do something to help them out.

“This team has the talent to compete in the division and win.”

Certainly that’s the goal. With Encarnacion’s thunder accompanied by the power upgrades brought in with Grandal, Nomar Mazara and Luis Robert, that goal looks all the more realistic.

While all sorts of question marks swirl around the upcoming season — whether it’s Dylan Cease and Reynaldo Lopez being able to put their 2019 struggles behind them, Moncada and Tim Anderson being able to keep their good fortunes going or Robert and Nick Madrigal being able to make successful transitions to the big leagues — the middle of the lineup is no question.

Abreu and Encarnacion have shown they’ll produce. They’re consistent. And in a year where so many things have to go right to reach that ultimate goal, knowing these two guys will do their damage is a tremendous positive.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.