There is no shot in the arm quite like the return of a team’s best player. Of course, any team should be built with the capacity to win despite a key injury or two. However, there is no denying that some players are more important to a particular team’s success.
Jose Abreu reclaimed his position of first base for the first time in weeks as the Chicago White Sox took on the Los Angeles Dodgers in Southern California on Monday night. The remarkable rookie played in the game just days after getting hit by a pitch during a rehab assignment that looked to have affected his injured leg.
Abreu, though, felt it was time to give his South Side team some needed power in the lineup. In the top of the fourth inning, Abreu crushed a Clayton Kershaw pitch to give the Sox a 2-0 advantage. Despite the sudden surge of power, the gloves of Chicago failed to play with as much inspiration as the rookie’s bat. The Dodgers scored all of its five runs with two outs in sixth inning on two infield errors to win the game 5-2.
But that is the question with this White Sox team: can it win with career-best years from both Alexei Ramirez (.326 BA, 32 runs and 36 RBIs) and Abreu (16 home runs, 44 RBIs)?
As impressive as both players’ numbers are, it appears the answer is no. The Detroit Tigers are a full five games head of the South Siders, and they are only pulling further ahead as the season progresses. Abreu is an outstanding rookie, but to expect him to remain at this pace — and therefore, carry this team — is outrageous. The AL Central is never an easy title to take away from the Tigers, but it is especially hard to do when one asks a rookie to lead the way.
The funny thing about the White Sox is that they are built like they expected Abreu to be this good. Either somebody in the front office is a genius or luck incarnate. Either way, it’s smart. However, it is also a wasted strategy for this team.
The Sox won’t see any significant success because of its pitching. Chris Sale and Jose Quintana are the only legitimate starters Chicago has. As a unit, they aren’t very impressive as the South Siders rank 28th in the majors with an ERA of 4.35. The Chicago pitchers are also the 29th in walks per game. These are two of the most telling stats in baseball in regards to pitching: hitters are getting on base and they are scoring.
There is no doubt in my mind that Abreu is a great player, even in his first season. However, I don’t believe that his team is ready to reap the benefits. It’s been almost half of a month since he first saw issues with his foot, and he still leads the team in RBIs. Abreu and the Chicago’ offense is pretty on paper, but it isn’t very explosive, especially without the rookie.
Despite a strong start at hitting he ball, Chicago’s pitching has left much to be desired. Unless Abreu can get the team to trade for some pitching, I doubt he’ll be the poster boy for this team’s rise to AL dominance.