Thursday, May 1, 2014
Abreu leading truly offensive Sox start
By Jon Greenberg
Cuban slugger Jose Abreu is already giving White Sox fans cause to celebrate.
If you live in Chicago and are following baseball, even as background noise, you're aware that Cuban slugger Jose Abreu is the newest star in Chicago's baseball firmament.
Did you know that we have a firmament in the dim, smoggy world of Chicago baseball? We do, and Abreu is like our Big Dipper.
With 10 home runs and 32 RBIs, the most in baseball going into May 1, Abreu is a one-man show on the South Side. And, um, plenty of tickets are available.
The Sox are averaging 16,874 fans a game, the second worst in baseball, ahead of only Cleveland (13,086). Sure, the weather is terrible, but how are the Sox averaging 3,932 fewer fans per game than this point last season?
Certainly, the timing has been bad for Abreu's star turn. Or perhaps just not ideal.
His start has been overshadowed locally by the Bulls' (RIP) and Blackhawks' playoff runs, not to mention the Cubs' cake getting thrown away and Bears draft speculation.
But if Abreu continues his tear, he could overtake Jeff Samardzija trade speculation for the top baseball story in town.
Just kidding, Sox fans. He's already done that, but the Samardzija Watch is just percolating, folks. Wait 'til the Cubs really start losing.
While Abreu's first month has been amazing and is worthy of a longer column, how about the two other Cuban starters on the roster?
I knew they were doing well, but I've been admittedly absent from White Sox mania during their 14-15 start.
I knew Alexei Ramirez set a team record with 40 hits in a month. But upon further digging, and by that I mean going online, I found out he's also leading the league in singles and has four home runs (he hit just six last season). His OPS is .910, and he collected 61 total bases in April, while striking out just 11 times in 121 plate appearances.
Dayan Viciedo is doing even better. While he's only homered once, the Jeep (let's chill on the "Tank" talk) has 11 doubles in 100 plate appearances and has walked 10 times. Last season he had 23 doubles and 24 walks in 473 plate appearances in 2013. He's hitting .348 with a .938 OPS.
This is part of the reason the White Sox are essentially the third-best hitting team in baseball with a team OPS of .764. Last April, they were 28th in OPS at .672 en route to a 99-loss season.
Now, if they could just do something about that pitching staff. Gordon Beckham for Samardzija, anyone?