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White Sox Thu Jul 03 2014
Jose Abreu is having himself a year. He started out modestly in his first week, then tore up competition over the rest of April and first half of May. Standing at 15 homers and a .908 OPS, he was riding high.
Then he got hurt and put on the DL. So much for that, right? Nope. He's been even better over the last month, with 11 homers and a 1.036 OPS since his return on June 2. Altogether, he's tied for the league lead in home runs (26) and RBIs (67) and he's been the White Sox most productive player. He's a strong Rookie of the Year candidate and even an MVP option. The $7 million he's getting this year is a bargain for the Sox.
He's on a record-setting pace. Toppling Mark McGwire's rookie home run record of 49 is not out of reach, nor is the Sox single-season homer record (also 49, by Albert Belle). If you extrapolate his numbers out and estimate his production, you'll be impressed with what numbers he can have this year.
What exactly is to make of Jose Abreu? He's clubbing the ball, he's looked great, but what if the circumstances around this season were different? On baseball-reference.com, you can stick a player in any era, on any team and in any ballpark and you can see how his stats translate. Let's do this with Abreu.
Admittedly, we're dealing with a small sample size here. A very small sample size. And, the baseball-reference neutralizer doesn't take into account bullpens and player demographics over the years, and only indirectly factors in ballpark dimensions. But that doesn't mean we can't have fun! Consider this a thought exercise for novelty purposes only.
Here's how Abreu is doing with the 2014 White Sox. His 162-game average is right under his career stats (which, of course, mirror his season stats).
Pretty good. But what if he played in the dead ball era? If time traveling aliens kidnapped Jose and placed him on the 1908 Chicago Cubs, his stats would... actually not be that different.
I would bet anything he would have more doubles and triples in those ginormous turn-of-the-century ballparks, but what do I know (again, it doesn't directly factor in the size of the ballparks). Let's fast forward. What if he played in one of the best pitchers ballparks in history in the best modern year for pitchers ever? What if he played for the 1968 Los Angeles Dodgers?
The power is still there, but Abreu's having a dramatically different season at the plate. He's striking out just a little more, and the dip in batting average says that some of those long fly balls are turning into outs. But now, where would he be more effective? How about Coors Field as a member of the 2000 Colorado Rockies. The height of the steroid era (not that Abreu would do such a thing, but those numbers are factored into the simulation), rumors of juiced-up baseballs and a high altitude ballpark make a perfect combination for any slugger.
Oh, Abreu just would hit 75 home runs and rack up 224 RBIs over a full season, no big deal. (Quick aside: what a bananas year for the Rockies in 2000. Even Jeff Cirillo had 115 RBIs.) Now here's the big test. What if he played for the 2001 San Francisco Giants?
Well, he's not quite 2001 Barry Bonds. Ah well. 2014 Jose Abreu has been pretty good this year, no matter what the context is.