The Chicago White Sox got an “MVP” level performance from Jose Abreu on Saturday night.
The great “clinching a playoff berth” vibes had worn off long before Saturday night’s crosstown matchup against the Chicago Cubs. After being embarrassed the night before in a 10-0 shutout, the Chicago White Sox were in danger of turning the mood even worse. They desperately needed a win to stay alive in the race for the Central Division title and build some confidence before the postseason. Unfortunately, Dane Dunning had no command, the defense was lacking, and Kris Bryant hit a grand slam to give the Cubs the lead. The team was in jeopardy of continuing it’s freefall into mediocrity and extending their losing streak to seven games.
Then White Sox leader and MVP front-runner flipped the script. With two outs in the 4th inning and the Sox trailing by a run, Jose Abreu rang a bases-clearing double over the head of Kyle Schwarber to give the White Sox the lead. The hit gave Abreu his league-leading 60th RBI and more importantly turned a 5-4 deficit into a 7-5 lead.
With that hit, Jose Abreu became the first player in nearly a decade to have as many RBI’s as games played in a season. It is fitting that Abreu would be the White Sox slump buster. In the biggest moments of the biggest games, Abreu rises to the occasion.
During a nationally televised game against Cleveland early in the season, Abreu hit a home run off Cy-Young front runner and fellow MVP candidate, Shane Beiber. That was one of only seven home runs Beiber has allowed in 2020. With the city of Chicago watching as the White Sox faced their crosstown rivals for the first time back in August, Abreu hit four consecutive home runs, tying a major league record.
During a pivotal game against the Twins earlier in September, Abreu delivered by hitting a game-tying home run in the fourth inning. Later when the White Sox trailed again with two outs in the seventh inning he legged out an infield single to tie the game once more. The White Sox would go on to clinch their first playoff berth since 2008 in that game.
This season, Jose Abreu ranks fourth in the American League in batting average, third in OPS, second in home runs and runs scored, and first in RBI’s, hits, extra-base hits, total bases, and slugging percentage. The numbers speak for themselves.
The White Sox have gone through their share of cold stretches this season but Abreu has provided a constant source of production. He has done all of this while simultaneously giving lineup protection for players such as Yoan Moncada, who broke out of his slump on Saturday by hitting his first home run since August 17. When the stakes are raised in October there is no one else I would rather see in the box than Jose Abreu.