White Sox

Despite midseason slump, Jose Abreu is moving toward a fifth straight season of 25 homers and 100 RBIs

Despite midseason slump, Jose Abreu is moving toward a fifth straight season of 25 homers and 100 RBIs

When Jose Abreu went to the All-Star Game — voted in as the starting first baseman for the American League squad — he was of course deserving as an incredibly consistent performer through his first four seasons in the big leagues and his role as the face of the White Sox.

But the numbers weren't looking so good in mid July. An extended slump had Abreu looking very un-Abreu-like, perhaps heading toward his worst statistical season since arriving in the majors from Cuba ahead of his 2014 Rookie of the Year campaign.

At the close of the first half, he was slashing .253/.311/.441 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs, a far cry from the .301/.359/.524 slash line he put up through his first four seasons, when he also joined Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio as the only players ever to start their careers with a quartet of 25-homer, 100-RBI campaigns.

But Abreu, who's been a very good second-half hitter during his career, is on a hot streak that's powering his way back to his version of normal. And it's looking like he could again reach the numbers we're so used to seeing from him by season's end.

After a one-homer, three-hit, three-RBI day in Wednesday afternoon's win over the Detroit Tigers, Abreu is up to .268/.327/.484 on the campaign with 21 homers and 73 RBIs. That puts him nine homers and 27 RBIs away from the mark he's hit in each of his first four seasons with 42 games left in the season. It's not at all unreasonable to suggest he'll be able to do that, as he's hit eight homers and driven in 21 runs in his last 22 games.

He'd have to be some kind of dialed-in for the remainder of 2018 to bump the averages back to where they've been in recent seasons. But here's the kind of hot streak he's on now: Since the start of the second half, Abreu is slashing .323/.385/.646. And that's not too crazy when you realize how good he's been in the second half in his career. Coming into Wednesday's game, his career second-half stat line looked like this: a .314/.381/.540 slash line with 61 homers and 199 RBIs in 303 games.

For the White Sox, the confidence was always there that Abreu was going to snap out of the extended slump that saw him slash .180/.230/.308 from May 27 to the end of the first half, and he's done exactly that. Now, he's hot enough that he's inspiring confidence he could return to some of his regular numbers by season's end. It's that kind of consistency, coupled with his off-the-field value, that makes the team think so highly of him and could keep him around long enough for the rebuilding process to yield a perennial contender on the South Side.

Who's the next White Sox Hall of Famer?

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USA TODAY

Who's the next White Sox Hall of Famer?

Harold Baines is in the Hall. Last Sunday’s announcement totally took me (and a lot of others) by surprise.

I was ecstatic to see the news. Baines was one of my favorite players growing up. I loved that iconic leg kick. When they traded him to the Rangers in 1989, nine-year-old me was devastated.

Now that Harold’s in, who should be the next White Sox Hall of Famer? Here are six candidates:

Minnie Miñoso

If you haven’t already, read this:

I’ll summarize (though you really should read it). Miñoso had power, speed and on-base ability. His career may have been delayed due to the color line. If one feels his MLB career isn’t enough, his Negro League career and his role as a pioneer for black Latino ballplayers are plenty to make up the difference.

Dick Allen

Dick Allen hit 351 career home runs. His slashline of .292/.378/.534 is very impressive, even more so when placed in the context of his era. The 1960s was a tough period for hitters. That being said, 1,749 games and 1,848 career hits don’t jump off the page. According to WAR, he’s borderline (61.3 Fangraphs, 58.7 Baseball-Reference). But when you dig a little deeper…

Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) measures offensive production comparing to league average and adjusting for ballpark. 100 is league average, any point above or below represents one percent above or below league average. Dick Allen had a career wRC+ of 155, meaning he was 55% better than league average for his career. That’s incredibly good. How good?

Career wRC+

(minimum 5,000 career plate appearances)

Boldface = Hall of Famer

1. Babe Ruth, 197

2. Ted Williams, 188

3. Lou Gehrig, 173

Rogers Hornsby, 173

5. Barry Bonds, 173

6. Mickey Mantle, 170

7. Ty Cobb, 165

Joe Jackson, 165

9. Stan Musial, 158

Jimmie Foxx, 158

11. Mark McGwire, 157

Johnny Mize, 157

Tris Speaker, 157

14. Mel Ott, 156

Dan Brouthers, 156

16. Joey Votto, 155

Dick Allen, 155

18. Willie Mays, 154

Frank Thomas, 154

Hank Greenberg, 154

There are 1,007 players with at least 5,000 career plate appearances. Allen is tied for SIXTEENTH. Dick Allen isn’t just on a list of good players. He’s listed among top tier all-time greats.

Billy Pierce

Pierce was arguably the best American League pitcher of the 1950s, and perhaps the third best in the Majors (behind Robin Roberts and Warren Spahn). He posted a career ERA of 3.27 (119 ERA+ 19 percent above league average) in over 3,000 innings and was one strikeout short of 2,000. He had 211 career wins and was the only pitcher during the 1950s to post a qualified ERA under 2 (1.97 in 1955).

Billy Pierce WAR Career 1950s 1950s MLB rank 1950s AL rank
Fangraphs WAR 52.5 43.6 3rd 1st
Baseball-Ref WAR 53.2 43.7 3rd 1st

Mark Buehrle

Buehrle compiled 60.3 pitching WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com. That’s the fifth most by a pitcher currently not in the Hall of Fame, behind Tommy John (62.5), CC Sabathia (62.2), Clayton Kershaw (62.1) and Andy Pettitte (60.7). He was remarkably durable; one of only eight pitchers in MLB history with at least 14 consecutive seasons of 200+ innings. The other seven are in the Hall of Fame.

He had 214 career wins; only three active pitchers have at least 200 (Bartolo Colón 247, CC Sabathia 246 and Justin Verlander 204). Buehrle tossed a pair of no-hitters (one perfect) and was a key member of the 2005 World Series championship rotation. He was a five-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove winner. His career ERA+ of 117 (adjusted for league and ballpark; 17 percent above league average) is better than Steve Carlton (115), Fergie Jenkins (115), Phil Niekro (115), Jim Bunning (115), Robin Roberts (113), Nolan Ryan (112), Don Sutton (108), Early Wynn (107) and Catfish Hunter (104).

Joe Jackson

Among players with 2,500 career plate appearances with the White Sox, the Shoeless One is the career leader in batting average (.340). He’s also the Indians career leader in batting average (.375). His career average of .356 ranks third all-time behind Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby. He had a career on-base percentage of .423 (17th all-time).

Babe Ruth made the home run popular at the dawn of the Roaring 20s. Joe Jackson posted career highs of 12 home runs and 121 RBI in 1920, and then his career came to an end. He was banned for life because of his role in the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Could he have embraced the home run craze? Could he have had a run of 30 or 40-home run seasons for the White Sox had he remained in the game? Unfortunately we’ll never know. Shoeless Joe Jackson wasn’t a mythical figure from a popular movie. He was a legitimate all-time great.

Paul Konerko

Konerko is the next White Sox star to reach the BBWAA ballot, set to make his debut in 2020. He was the heart of the 2005 offense that went on to win the World Series, taking home ALCS MVP honors. Konerko is second in franchise history with 432 home runs and 1,383 RBI, behind only Frank Thomas in both categories. Overall, Konerko had 439 HR (only 43 players in MLB history have more) and 1,412 RBI (75th all-time) with a respectable .279/.354/.486 career slashline. He had seven 30-HR seasons and six 100-RBI campaigns; a six-time All-Star. The White Sox erected a statue in Konerko’s honor in 2014 and his No. 14 was retired by the White Sox the following year.

 

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: It's on the Internet so it must be true- Bryce Harper links himself to the White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: It's on the Internet so it must be true- Bryce Harper links himself to the White Sox

Hub Arkush, Chris Emma and Jim Litke join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- Bryce Harper comments on Nicky Delmonico's Instagram post. So that means he's coming to the White Sox, right? How much would signing Harper change the franchise? And what would happen to the Sox if they don't get him?

8:45- All quiet on the Northside after the Winter Meetings. Do the Cubs really have no big moves up their sleeve or is Theo bluffing?

10:45- It's Packers Week and Matt Nagy isn't living in the past. Can the Bears exorcise their Green Bay demons or will Aaron Rodgers win yet another game at Soldier Field?

19:00- Chris Simms joins Kap to talk Bears and Packers. If the Bears and Rams meet again in the playoffs, can the Bears defense repeat their command performance? And Chris gives his reason why Mitch Trubisky will be a Super Bowl winning QB.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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