Thursday, August 14, 2014

As Jose Abreu slumps, the White Sox slump along with him

The dog days of August have not been kind to Jose Abreu.

The White Sox' first baseman's August slash line (.262/.380/.286) is not bad, but it's much more mortal than what we've seen from Abreu the first four months of the season. In particular, his slugging percentage has taken a dip. The extra-base power that has been so noticeable all year has been lacking of late.

Abreu is 8 for 39 with just one double, no home runs and two RBIs in his last 11 games. He has not homered since July 29.

Reason for despair? I don't believe so.

Part of this "slump" is an inevitable market correction. Abreu was scorching hot in July. He posted a .374/.432/.667 slash line and won AL Player of the Month honors. That came on the heels of a June that saw Abreu hit .313 with 10 home runs. He was red-hot for an extended period of time. It wasn't going to continue forever; baseball just doesn't work like that. Every hitter goes through periods where they aren't seeing the ball well. Right now, Abreu is in one of those periods.

I also think fatigue is a factor for Abreu. Let's not forget this is his first time going through the rigors of a 162-game schedule in the United States. In Cuba, the season is 90 games long. The White Sox completed their 121st game of the season on Wednesday.

Nobody should be surprised if indeed Abreu is hitting a bit of a wall at this stage of the season. His bat looks a little slow right now, but the only way for him to learn what it's like to go through the grind of 162 games is to go through the grind of 162 games. This is what gaining experience is all about, and Abreu will be better for it in the years to come.

Even with this recent cold streak, Abreu still leads the American League in both home runs (31) and RBIs (86). Accordingly, fans should refrain from worrying about whether the league "has figured out" Abreu. He's already been through the league a couple times, and his June and July were stronger than his April and May.

I would argue, in fact, that Abreu is figuring the league out, not the other way around. Sure, he might hit the rookie wall down the stretch here, but there's a substantial body of work now that suggests Abreu will be an impact hitter in the middle of the Sox' lineup for years to come. I'll be honest: He's been better than I ever expected.

The Sox are 4-8 so far in August. It's not a coincidence the team has struggled right along with Abreu. Here are some more numbers on the slugging first baseman that prove the point:

In  Sox wins: .380/.442/.823, 22 HRs, 59 RBIs
In Sox losses: .231/.283/.407, 9 HRs, 27 RBIs

This shows there's a pretty good correlation between Abreu's success and White Sox success. When he's hot, the team scores runs. When he's cold, it doesn't.

Abreu needs more help in the lineup, for sure, but make no mistake about it, he's erased all doubt that he's the guy the Sox need to build their offense around for the next five years.


  1. Good article. I also think as Hawk has been saying for a while teams in contention just are going to pitch around him with no real threat protecting him. I do not think he has played more than a 100 gameseason. We will see if today's day off helps him. I think he will have one more hotstreak and wind up with 42 or43 HR. I would really like to see him hit over .300 though!

  2. Yes, Abreu has had either Dunn or Viciedo hitting behind him for most of the season. In most cases, teams are not going to be afraid to pitch around Abreu and take their chances with one of those two guys.

    That's where the injury to Avisail Garcia has really hurt the Sox. If he had stayed healthy, maybe Garcia would have developed into the complimentary hitter to protect Abreu in the lineup. Maybe Garcia will still become that guy. But the injury sets back the timetable for that to happen.