Apr 11, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu (79) during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. (Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports)
Much of the early hubbub regarding the Chicago White Sox is centered around first baseman Jose Abreu. Rightfully so as he has forced some baseball folk outside the Chicago baseball world to peek into the Windy City.
No debate that if the Rookie of the Year voting were to take place this very day that Abreu would get the AL’s nod. Safe bet to say that it would be a unanimous vote, too.
To date, Abreu leads all of MLB in home runs (10), RBI (32) and total bases (67). He also leads the American League in slugging percentage (.626). If you want to see some crazy numbers, Baseball Reference’s 162 game projection is, well, crazy: .271/.342/.626, 60 HR, 192 RBI.
Okay, we know the likelihood of Abreu playing at this pace is remote, but if so, Abreu would break Hack Wilson’s single-season record for RBI which currently stands at 191.
Dayan Viciedo is in his fifth season with the Pale Hose. Hard to believe he’s got four under his belt already. When Viciedo was first promoted in 2010, it was as a corner infielder. The following year, the transformation to an outfield position began in the minors as Viciedo played 95 of his 106 games in right field. Upon a late call-up that season, he started 19 games in right. Since the start of 2012, Viciedo has been either in the outfield or at DH.
At the beginning of this year, it appeared Viciedo could be the odd man out in the outfield situation. The White Sox had acquired Adam Eaton from the Arizona Diamondbacks as primarily a defensive upgrade for center. Move Alejandro De Aza to left, Eaton in center and Avisail Garcia in right. All looked set. Rumblings were starting to surface that either De Aza or Viciedo could be available.
Except the thing about Garcia needing surgery for a torn labrum and missing the remainder of this season wasn’t in the script. Now Viciedo would surely get everyday status. And he has taken complete and full advantage of it.
Alexei Ramirez may be somewhat forgotten one. Well, except for maybe Hawk.
Through his first four seasons, Ramirez produced double-digit home runs in each. He was second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting for 2008 and won the AL Silver Slugger for shortstops in 2010. He should have won the Gold Glove that season as well as he led all AL shortstops in DRS (20). You might recall that Derek Jeter won it that year…with a DRS of -9.
But 2012 was hardly a season worth remembering, at least from a statistical point of view. You could say it was a nightmare, as Ramirez saw his OBP fall below .300 for the first time in his career (.287). His OPS+ of 75 was also at its lowest.
2013 saw a slight reversal of fortune. Ramirez got the OBP over .300 again (.313) and his OPS+ crept a little closer to 100, finishing at 87. And maybe, just maybe, the 32-year-old Ramirez is continuing upward after being in that valley.
Okay, Viciedo and Ramirez aren’t likely to end this season with a batting average over .350. In fact, if either eclipse .300, it would mark the first time they would have in a season playing more than 100 games (Viciedo hit .308 in 2010 in 108 PA). No one should logically expect Viciedo to continue to reach base at a .413 clip as his career average heading into this season was .306. Abreu isn’t going to barely edge over Wilson’s RBI record either, but with this trio from Cuba, the White Sox offense has been a surprise at this early stage of the season.