In 2014, two of the best players ever to man first base were on the team. As Paul Konerko closed out his career, Jose Abreu‘s was just beginning.
With the biggest shoes to fill, Abreu did it with style and power. So much so that he easily took home the trophy for Rookie of the Year.
Entering the MLB at age 27, Abreu showed that Sox fans had nothing to worry about as Paulie would have a worthy replacement. His rookie slash was an eye-popping .317/.383/.581. He hit 36 home runs and 107 RBI.
Abreu’s rookie season was nothing short of amazing. He was named an All-Star, won a Silver Slugger Award, and finished fourth in the MVP vote. He has yet to replicate the success he had that first year in Chicago, but he has been consistent at the plate and on first. His career slash is .295/.353/.516 – not too bad.
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In 2014, Abreu’s competition for Rookie of the Year was impressive. Matt Shoemaker of the Angels finished in second and Dellin Betances finished third. Two recent World Series winners, Brock Holt and George Springer tied for eighth that season. Jacob deGrom won the Rookie of the Year in the NL. Mike Trout was the AL MVP in 2014.
During Abreu’s rookie season, his slash was the best in the league. His .581 slugging percentage was at the top with Anthony Rizzo in second with .527. Abreu’s nemesis and friend Miguel Cabrera was in the third spot with .524. In the entire MLB, only Nelson Cruz with 40, Chris Carter with his fluke of 37 home runs, and Giancarlo Stanton also with 37 home runs, bested Abreu’s 36. And only Adrian Gonzalez with the Dodgers and Cabrera had more RBI. Albert Pujols was below him with two fewer RBI.
Abreu’s rookie season was certainly one for the record books. He’s been associated with greatness from the moment he set foot between the lines in Chicago. Whether he continues his career in Chicago or not, fans will always have a softspot in their hearts for the strong, quiet man who wears number 79.