Which White Sox slugger is having the better season on the South Side? Will veteran first baseman end 2017 with 100 or more RBIs?
The White Sox have been out of the race for quite some time now but this season has not been a failure by any stretch of the imagination. The Sox have called up many prospects and have seen many of them flourish and play well. The team has a better understanding of the talent they have and the talent they’ll need to acquire in the future, but as far as the bright spots of this season go, two of them have been the performances of a pair of Major League veterans.
Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu have had fantastic seasons – All-Star seasons to say the least. Garcia actually earned his first All-Star game appearance this year and is still continuing to have an incredible season. Abreu did not make an All-Star appearance but is having another career year. He is only a few RBIs away from hitting a mark that has only been reached by Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols – an all-time great and a future Hall of Famer.
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Both have batting averages over .300, on-base percentages over .350, slugging percentages over .500, and at least 17 home runs, 75 RBI and 150 base hits. They have easily been the two most productive hitters in the Sox lineup all year but who has had the better season? Here are their numbers of 2017.
Abreu: .308 AVG. 176 hits, 90 R, 31 HR, 95 RBI, .360 OBP, .558 SLG, 140 wRC+, 43.1 oWAR
Garcia: .334 AVG, 157 hits, 67 R, 17 HR, 77 RBI, .381 OBP, 509 SLG, 137 wRC+, 25.6 oWAR
According to the numbers, it’s nearly split down the middle but Abreu has the upper hand. Garcia is second in AL batting average to Jose Altuve, the current MLB leader in batting average, and is also sixth in on-base percentage. He’s also hitting .437 against left-handed pitching this season and has a batting average of .376 after the All-Star break.
Abreu’s American League ranks actually show what a great year he’s having. Abreu is eighth in runs scored, seventh in batting average, RBI and doubles, fifth in OPS and runs created, fourth in adjusted OPS+ and slugging percentage, third in triples, second in extra base hits and first in total bases.
Abreu is located in the top 10 and even the top five in many of the major and sabermetric statistical categories. And those categories range from power numbers, contact hitting numbers, and production numbers so it’s easy to see just how effective Abreu has been this season. Abreu is also only three RBIs away from beginning his MLB career with four straight seasons with at least 25 HR and 100 RBI. He would join only DiMaggio and Pujols in that exclusive club. Abreu has also had a batting average of .290 or above in every season of his MLB career.
Aside from the numbers, Garcia is having a career year and it could not have come at a better time for him as well as the White Sox. He was an afterthought in the rebuilding process but is now looked at like a cornerstone of the future. Garcia was on his way out of the league if he didn’t have the year he had and the White Sox were not looking forward to letting go of a player who had incredible potential, drawing comparisons to his fellow countryman Miguel Cabrera. Garcia is now looking at career highs in batting average, home runs, RBI, singles, doubles, triples, hits, and extra base hits. So while Abreu is having a slightly better year on paper – in more games played also – Garcia’s season should not be overlooked in any capacity whatsoever.
It’s hard to pick over the other because each has had a respectively great season. Both players have been great for the White Sox this year and each player has an important role to play in the future. Abreu, former teammate to Yoan Moncada in Cuba and mentor to the young Latin prospects like Reynaldo Lopez, Luis Robert, and Eloy Jimenez, is highly valued by the Sox organization.
The evidence is in the fact that the Sox decided not to sell him while they got rid of just about everyone else. While Garcia has earned his spot on this team of the future at only 26 years old, fitting in perfectly with their future plans. The ChiSox are hoping that Garcia is only starting what is a very successful Major League career. But if Garcia can really figure out how to maintain this level of play while staying healthy, he can be a perennial All-Star candidate, along with his teammate Abreu.