Role: No. 3 hitter, MVP candidate
Expectations: I fully expect Jose Abreu to be among the best run producers in all of baseball this season. Will he be the best hitter in the game? Who knows, but from what I saw last year he will likely improve.
Now that he knows the pitchers around the league it will be easier for him to hit, due to the fact that last year he was seeing pitchers for the first time.
Here is another issue that Abreu faced for the first time in 2014, culture adjustment.
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Last year was his first season in the majors, not to mention the first time he hit in cold weather. Those are things that Abreu handled with ease, something that has a lot to due with his pure hitting ability and work ethic.
One thing that happened to Abreu late in the season was fatigue.
That is something that happens to many rookies, not just players from Cuba. Considering the fact that Abreu has gone through a season once, he should be better prepared to handle a full season in 2015. Last year, Abreu was on pace to hit close to 50 home runs, but failed to reach 40. Assuming he gets off to a torrid start, he has a better chance to finishing strong due to the fact that he is prepared.
Here is the final reason he will be among the best run producers in the game, improved protection.
With Adam LaRoche and Avisail Garcia hitting behind him instead of Adam Dunn, he should get more pitches to hit. Not to mention with Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera as the top two in the batting order, Abreu will have more chances for RBIs.
Final Thoughts: Just by looking at the way Abreu prepares himself for a game, along with his ability he is unlikely to suffer through a sophomore slump.
Assuming he stays healthy and doesn’t have a late season power swoon, he may be at the level of Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols this upcoming season. Abreu could give the White Sox their best pure hitter since Frank Thomas, and a legitimate MVP candidate.
I don’t think Abreu needs to hit 50 home runs to be valuable just due to the fact that he is so gifted of a hitter. If Abreu is able to hit .330 or more this year, and it would not surprise me if he goes on to be a perennial MVP candidate.
Maybe, if Abreu gets enough supports from his teammates the White Sox could end up in the postseason for the first time since 2008.