Jose Abreu can be considered disappointing in one regard: it took him too long to get here. Imagine what he could have done with three extra seasons?
Since defecting from Cuba, scarfing down a phony passport and joining the White Sox in 2014, Abreu has posted 25 or more home runs and 100 or more runs-batted-in in each of his first four major-league seasons, something only Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols have done. And if Abreu has his druthers he will complete his would-be Hall of Fame career in Chicago.
History. Congrats, José Abreu! pic.twitter.com/A9gQhnSolz
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 24, 2017
Abreu demured from the bright lights of individual accomplishment after the game saying, “Honestly, I don’t feel as happy as I wanted because we lost today,” Abreu said through interpreter Billy Russo. “Personally, it feels good to get this goal, this accomplishment. It’s very special for me, for my family, too.
Perhaps there is a hint of garden-variety humility in avoiding celebration, especially in a season lost to rebuilding, but the mystique of Abreu’s team-first attitude warms our hearts. His profuse gratitude to the White Sox organization for giving him the chance to make his dreams come true was on full display as he walked through the litany of teammates, coaches and family that share in his achievement.
But before Abreu cemented himself in history there was a conversation with his family.
“Every year after the season, I meet with my family and we review my season and my stats,” Abreu said. “Last year, when we had the meeting, I told them, ‘Next year, I’m gonna hit 30 homers, I’m gonna drive in at least 100,’ and I did it. … I was able to do it and that’s something that made me feel proud of myself and proud of my family, too. They have been the ones who have been supporting me through my whole career.”
One can hardly say that Abreu had a sub-par season in 2016 but he felt it was necessary to have a state-of-the-union conversation with his family after the season because he expected more from himself. This kind of pride is becoming endangered and perhaps Abreu has a better perspective on what it means to play Major League Baseball.
I favor the romantic side of baseball and prefer to believe in heroes rather than wolves in sheep’s clothing. In the week leading up to his historic achievement, Abreu had much to say about his future with the White Sox.
“This is my first team in the majors and I hope to be here for the rest of my career,” Abreu told Daryl Van Schouwen on Saturday before the White Sox game against the Tigers through interpreter, Billy Russo. “Because of all the things this team has done for me, how they have treated me. I really have a deep appreciation for this team and front office. And I feel comfortable here, they are like my family even though I left my family in Cuba. This is a family I gained here when I came to the U.S. and I want to be a part of this family forever.”
With the second phase of rebuilding a battered ball club, Abreu’s future with the South Siders is a mystery. Yet, after gathering two heralded Cuban prospects and using Abreu as a prop to lure them to Chicago it seems unlikely Yogi will be going anywhere. He is having one of his best seasons in 2017 posting his second-best ISO (.250) and BABIP (.333). Abreu might not be able to catch his Rookie of the Year statistics from 2014 but he is among a host of elite talent.
— Matt Enuco (@Matt_Enuco) September 21, 2017
The thread between Dimaggio, Pujols and Abreu is long, so I decided to pile up a few trivia tidbits for the common fan.
Jose Abreu joinns Joe Dimaggio and Albert Pujols as the only players in MLB history to have 175 H and 25 HR in each of first three years
— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) September 25, 2016
Jose Abreu is on pace for 103 RBIs this year. He’s looking to join Al Simmons, Albert Pujols, Joe DiMaggio, and Ted Williams ….
— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) August 20, 2017
…There’s still more…
25 HR, 30 Doubles as rookie AND next 3 seasons
Hal Trosky, Joe DiMaggio, Cal Ripken, Todd Helton, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder & José Abreu
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) August 21, 2017
65+ HR, .300 BA and .360 OBP through first two seasons:
— Jeremy Frank (@MLBRandomStats) January 29, 2016
Despite a slow week for the slugger, the White Sox have been white hot and Abreu has been the catalyst over posting 12 RBI the last two weeks. Abreu finished the first half of the season with 58 RBI while batting .299 and raised his average in the second half after legion trades vaporized a veteran lineup.
That jersey is off to Cooperstown. pic.twitter.com/xJ1X8DJot4
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 24, 2017
He is batting .322 after the All-Star break and a blazing .370 in September with a 1.166 OPS. Mal Tiempo as he is known among his teammates became the first Cuban-born major-league player to hit for the cycle on Sep. 9 and the sixth player in franchise history to accomplish the feat. And Abreu reached all this success while his family stared down hurricane Irma in Miami and Cuba.
Abreu still has a few seasons left in him but imagine what it would have been like to witness Yogi swing his shillelagh in his prime?