Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled José Abreu Is The Games Best Old-Fashioned Slugger

José Abreu had himself a damn weekend. On Friday night, he clubbed two home runs—including a walk-off grand slam that nearly led to old bastard Hawk Harrelson having an on-air joy-aneurysm—and drove in six runs against the Tampa Bay Rays. On Sunday, he came away with two more hits and four more RBI, two of them by way of a two-run homer off David Price. With that, Abreu put the finishing touches on a historically great month of baseball.


In his first month as a major league player, Abreu has hit 10 home runs and driven in 31 runs. No rookie has ever before achieved those marks in his first month on the job. (Albert Pujols came the closest in 2001, when he started his career with eight home runs and 27 RBI in his first month.) But Abreu's number aren't just impressive because he's a rookie; his first 115 plate appearances rank as one of the best season-opening salvos in the history of the game.

There's something funny about how Abreu's numbers stack up to A-Rod's and Pujols's on that list, though, and it speaks to what's so particularly entertaining about his style of play. The slash lines that Rodriguez and Pujols put up in their opening months—.346/.509/.914/1.423 for Pujols, .355/.415/.882/1.297 for Rodriguez—evoke images of gods descending to earth and inhabiting the forms of baseball players. By comparison, Abreu's .262/.330/.631/.962 looks pedestrian, but that's because Abreu is an old god.

Abreu isn't the result of some kind of evolutionary leap forward, the way A-Rod and Pujols were then, or the way Yasiel Puig and Mike Trout are now. He's just a really big dude who can hit the ball really, really hard. He does pretty much one thing on the baseball field: he steps up to the plate, swings his bat with the ease of someone practicing a chip shot, and literally knocks the cover off the ball. He strikes out a lot, too, and sometimes he ends up hitting a line-drive single instead of a homer, but every time he steps into the box, he's this close to uncorking that soft, fluid swing and sending a fireball into the outfield seats.

Abreu isn't breaking the parameters of the game or doing anything we haven't seen before, but for now he's playing the role of the fastball-mauling slugger better than anyone else around, and it's a damn pleasure to watch him do it.

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