With two outs and the Chicago White Sox trailing the Yankees by one on run on Saturday night, hope was dwindling for the South Siders. Jose Abreu came strolling up to the plate with the game in the balance.
As he has done throughout his career, the 2020 American League MVP rose to the occasion. Abreu worked an excellent eight-pitch at-bat and showed why he is a professional hitter.
With a full count, he was sitting on a curveball. He fouled off two fastballs to keep the at-bat alive until he finally got the pitch he was looking for, a hanging Chad Green curveball that snapped right over the heart of the plate. Abreu made Green pay for his mistake by launching the ball 415 feet into the left-field stands.
Abreu is not one to show much emotion. He is more of a stoic leader but not even he could hide his excitement. He clapped his hands as he ran out of the box as the crowd burst into a frenzy.
Jose Abreu has been everything the Chicago White Sox need and then some.
This season has had no shortage of thrilling moments and Saturday night was no exception. However, Abreu’s solo home run was a milestone moment for the veteran first baseman. It was his 222nd home run that surpassed Hall of Famer Harold Baines (221) for the third-most home runs in White Sox history. Abreu only trails Frank Thomas (448) and Paul Konerko (432).
"“I am happy for this new mark I just reached,” Abreu said. “It wasn’t something I ever imagined.”"
"“It is very well earned and speaks to his impact on this organization. As all of us know, Jose is a great person and a great baseball player. The respect is truly mutual.”"
By now it is quite obvious that Abreu has established himself as one of the White Sox all-time greats. But could he be considered one of baseball’s all-time greats? Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa knows a thing or two about baseball’s best. He managed legends such as Ricky Henderson and Albert Pujols.
In Sunday’s pregame Zoom session, Tony La Russa paid Jose Abreu the ultimate compliment.
"“I think he’s one of the greatest players in Major League history because of the RBIs, the consistency of being a clutch run producer,” La Russa explained. “He’s not a home run or nothing guy.”“He’ll get a single or double. But, yeah, I think he’s on that list with the best run producers, home run/ RBI guys in the game’s history, and he’s still got a lot left.”"
Abreu has been a model of consistency and that has been on full display this week. He is playing some of his best baseball of the season. On Thursday, with America watching, the White Sox play in a cornfield on National television and Abreu hit the first-ever major league home run in the state of Iowa.
He followed that up with four hits on Saturday including two doubles and his game-tying home run in the ninth. On Sunday, Abreu extended his hit streak to 12-games with six home runs over that span.
All Jose Abreu has done since he has gotten to the Major Leagues is produce. From his rookie year until now he has been a model of consistency at the plate. Abreu has also worked tirelessly to improve his defense and has transformed himself into a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman.
Meanwhile, he has served as a mentor and leader to a blossoming championship team. Tony La Russa may not be far off with his assessment. Jose Abreu is one of the all-time greats as a player and a person.