In 2001, baseball fans were treated to one of the greatest rookie seasons in baseball history. Ichiro Suzuki not only was elected to the All-Star Game that season, he won the American League Rookie of the Year Award, followed by a narrow victory in the American League Most Valuable Player Award voting.
Suzuki took baseball by storm with his unorthodox swing at the plate, his 56 steals (which led all of baseball) and a laser-beam of an arm in right field.
Need an example?
(The Seattle Mariners won 111 games that season and advanced to the American League Championship Series.)
Fast-forward 13 years and baseball fans are being treated to one of the best rookie seasons by a hitter in recent memory.
Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu has taken over quickly in his rookie campaign. Although a nagging ankle injury slowed his production for 13 games in the month of May, Abreu has been a nightmare for American League pitching all season long.
98 games into his major league career, Jose Abreu leads all of baseball in home runs (31) and runs batted in (86), while hitting .307. Abreu also leads all of baseball with 60 extra-base hits. If it wasn’t for two-time American League Most Valuable Player, Miguel Cabrera, Abreu would have been this year’s All-Star Game starting first baseman for the AL.
On Monday, Abreu was named the American League Rookie and Player of the Month for the month of July. Through the first four months of the season, Abreu has won the AL Rookie of the Month three times and has been the Player of the Month twice.
So, the $64,000 question is …
Can Jose Abreu win not only the American League Rookie of the Year Award, but the American League Most Valuable Player Award?
With the dog days of the baseball calendar on the horizon and the games piling up, Abreu has a legitimate shot to possibly steal away the AL MVP from favorite and two-time AL MVP runner-up, Mike Trout.
Trout is arguably the best player in baseball and is having yet another stellar season for the Los Angeles Angels. In 107 games for the Angels, Trout is hitting .303 with 25 home runs and 81 runs batted in. His 6.16 wins above replacement rating leads all of baseball once again.
And yeah, he can do this too:
Here’s the side-by-side comparison of the two candidates:
Mike Trout in 2014: .303 BA, 25 HR, 81 RBI, 12 SB, 32 2B, 5 3B, .393 OBP, .584 SLG and a .977 OPS
Jose Abreu in 2014: .307, 31 HR, 86 RBI, 28 2B, 30 BB, .363 OBP, .628 SLG and a .991 OPS
Sure, Abreu’s numbers look a tad better than Trout’s do, but the voters will take note that Abreu’s team is three games below .500 and Trout’s club is 23 games over the .500 mark and battling in the American League’s toughest division.
Personally, my vote would go to Jose Abreu in terms of the name of the award. If Jose Abreu isn’t mashing baseballs off of some of the game’s best arms night in and night out, there’s no way the White Sox are just eight games back of the division lead. The White Sox would be on their way towards another 99-loss season without Abreu.
No disrespect to Trout because he’s a tremendous player, but the array of talent on that Angels roster should be noted as well. Los Angeles is in much better shape than Chicago in terms of a full, complete roster.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Other candidates? Voice your opinions in the Comments Section below!