Be sure to tune in for Chuck Garfien's one-on-one interview with White Sox ace Chris Sale in tonight's 10 p.m. edition of SportsNet Central.
MINNEAPOLIS — It’s been 20 years since Frank Thomas claimed his second American League MVP Award. No White Sox player has won it since.
But that could change this season.
Inside the American League clubhouse before the All-Star Game, I asked Chris Sale to look around the room and pick his AL MVP. He might be a little biased, but Sale immediately turned to his left and stared at the player sitting in the stall next to him:
“He’s creeping up to .300 again. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit over .300 with 40 some-odd homers and a boatload of RBIs,” Sale said.
At first, the Spanish-speaking Abreu didn’t understand what Sale was talking about, but when he heard the letters MVP, he smiled and humbly laughed at the possibility.
But Abreu’s candidacy is no joke.
He entered the All-Star break leading the majors with 29 home runs. He’s tied for third with 73 RBIs. He’s put up these gargantuan numbers despite missing two weeks with an injured ankle.
[MORE WHITE SOX: Jose Abreu's All-Star moment arrived during National Anthem]
The biggest case against Abreu might be the White Sox themselves. If they finish the season with a losing record near the bottom of the standings, that’s a big obstacle to overcome. Usual suspects like the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera and Angels’ Mike Trout will likely be heavy favorites once again, along with the Orioles’ Nelson Cruz.
And while Abreu seems to be a bona fide MVP candidate, how about Sale for Cy Young? No White Sox pitcher has taken home the award since Jack McDowell in 1993. Like Abreu, Sale spent some time on the disabled list, but when he’s been on the mound, he’s been nearly unhittable with an 8-1 record and 2.08 ERA, which leads the American League.
Sale would love to win it, but he’s not about to go there. At least, not yet.
“I don't think about any of the accolades or award or coming here (to the All-Star Game) or any of that stuff,” he said. “I try not to get too weighed down by that stuff. It takes away from what I’m really trying to do, and that's win games. Whatever happens happens. If it does, it's awesome. If not, oh well."
In the meantime, Sale has one request, and it’s directed towards Abreu.
“Keep feeding him. Keep being nice to him. So he helps me out.”
He is. And he has. And he will.