White Sox veterans have solid first halves for South Siders. What can fans expect from both players in the second half of the season?
It’s no secret the Chicago White Sox have been struggling of late. They’ve been flirting with a record of 10 games under .500 for some time now and it’s beginning to look a lot like the Sox of 2016 – with a better sense of optimism. After Sunday’s loss, the Sox ended the first half of the season at 38-49.
Many players like Todd Frazier, Tim Anderson and Miguel Gonzalez, have been far less effective this year following a great 2016 season. Frazier might be playing his last games in a Sox uniform while Anderson is experiencing a sophomore slump. Gonzalez currently finds himself on the disabled list, but was nowhere near the form he was in last season before his injury.
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It’s true these past two seasons leave plenty to be desired – in addition to the rough May and June the Sox had this season. However one positive remains in 2017, and that is Jose Abreu and Melky Cabrera have been fantastic for the Sox once again.
Abreu and Cabrera were question marks entering the season. Fans were unaware if they would even be on the team at the start of the season or if they would make it to the end of 2017. As it stands now, it’s actually still up in the air whether or not they’ll make it past the deadline but that’s not a knock to what they’ve been doing this season. Jon Heyman has reported that the Sox are not interested in dealing Abreu and that there is not much of a market for Cabrera. However if a team needs a couple of reliable gloves and bats in the middle of the lineup, Abreu and Cabrera could be just what they’re looking for.
The pair of 30-year old ballplayers have been having one of their better seasons with the club this year. Not only are they among the team leaders in hits, runs, doubles, home runs, runs batted in, walks, batting average and games played, but they’ve been producing when it counts most.
When the team is trailing, Abreu is hitting .269 with 39 hits and seven home runs to go along with 21 RBI. From the seventh inning and after, Cabrera is batting .315 and from the ninth inning and after Cabrera is hitting .364.
Abreu is beginning to really rev up and get into prime Abreu-form. He hit .309 in June and is currently hitting .323 in July. His season marks of .299/.349/.522 are great but almost expected. Abreu has been the best White Sox hitter since he arrived back in 2014. Only three games past the half way point of the season and Abreu is again on pace for another 25-plus home run and 100-plus RBI season, which would be his fourth consecutive said season.
While has had success most of the year, Cabrera was actually hitting a measly .234 on May 19 before he turned it around. In 47 games since May 19, Cabrera has recorded 63 hits, eight home runs and 35 RBIs. He hasn’t had a batting average under .273 in the last six seasons, so he has shown to be a successful hitter. However, it could be interesting to see if he can pump up his numbers before the trade deadline and generate some interest from a desperate contender.
Abreu and Cabrera have been performing very well season, even sometimes out-performing this year’s first half ChiSox MVP Avisail Garcia. Fans love players like Abreu and Cabrera when they’re winning games with walk offs and clutch hits, but they do much more as veterans in the club house. Abreu turned 30 this past offseason and has been professionally playing baseball since he was 16 years playing in Cuba. Cabrera is older at 32-years-old and logged a lot more MLB playing time. More interesting for Cabrera is that he’s played for six different clubs in both leagues.
The experience and veteran presence that Abreu and Cabrera bring to the dugout and the club house is very evident but also necessary for a team at this stage where wins are scarce. For that reason, it would be great if the Sox kept both of them at the deadline for the team morale and to win a few more games this year. But if general manager Rick Hahn can find the right price, a few more prospects won’t hurt the process. For now, the White Sox can only enjoy the performances and personalities of two of the team’s best players and perhaps two of the most underrated players in the division.