Jose Abreu is four RBIs away from the 100-mark and he’s still near the top of the league with 32 home runs.
He also carries a .312 batting average into Thursday night’s game and is likely a top-5 candidate for the American League Most Valuable player award. But Abreu said he’s not focused on any his individual accomplishments, he’s more concerned with the state of the White Sox.
So while he drove in two more runs on Wednesday night to give him 96, Abreu is only pleased that they came in the team’s first win in eight games.
“I'm very happy because we just came out of a bad stretch there,” Abreu said through the team’s manager of cultural development, Lino Diaz. “I was concentrating since yesterday on (Corey Kluber) because I knew he was going be tough. I dedicated a lot of time to preparing against him and was glad we got that win today.”
There has been some concern because around these parts of late because Abreu’s home run pace has slowed down considerably. He went 76 plate appearances without hitting a homer and has only two in August.
But that doesn’t mean Abreu hasn’t been a force at the plate. On the contrary, Abreu has a .345/.433/.452 slash line with two homers and 13 RBIs in 97 plate appearances. His strikeout rate has also decreased and he’s walking more often as he adjusts to the way pitchers attack him.
“Power will always be there for him because he’s that strong,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “If the only thing he did was hit homers, he wouldn’t be in the situation he is in. He’s driving in a lot of tough runs for us, not only with the home runs, but with base hits in big situations.”
On Wednesday, Abreu tied the game with a one-out RBI single in the third and then gave the White Sox a late lead with an RBI single with runners on the corners in the seventh inning off Kluber.
It’s the kind of play the White Sox expected out of Abreu after they first saw him hit the field in January. But still, as he nears the 100-RBI mark with a month to go, it’s clear Abreu has exceeded the team’s initial expectations.
“It’s a benchmark for anybody any time you get close to 100,” Ventura said. “You realize how difficult it is to do and for him to be there and going through this the first time is impressive.”
Still, Abreu doesn’t want to talk about his play, especially given the team’s 60-72 record. He has had a team-first attitude all season and isn’t going to start admiring his play now.
Abreu also said he has been on bad teams before and said that’s when he finds out the most about his teammates.
“I don't like to talk about myself,” Abreu said. “This is a team thing, but I'm very happy I've been able to hit for average and the results I've had individually. I'd like to have those as a team as well.
“The easy times, everybody wants them. The tough times really let you know who you are as a player and a team.”