Tagged in: slugger

Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu wins AL MVP award

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu won the American League MVP award Thursday after helping power the team to its first playoff berth in 12 years.

The 33-year-old slugger got 21 of 30 first-place votes and 374 points in voting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez was second with eight first-place votes and 303 points, and New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who won the AL batting crown (.364), followed with one first-place vote and 230 points.

Voting by the BBWAA was completed by the start of the playoffs. It has voted for the award since 1931.

Abreu led the majors with 60 RBIs and 148 total bases, and topped the AL with 76 hits and a .617 slugging percentage. He played in all 60 matches during the virus-shortened season as Chicago claimed a wild-card spot. Surrounded by family members, Abreu put his head down for a minute after hearing he’d won and teared up.

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“That was a very special moment,” he said through an interpreter.

Abreu batted .317 with 19 home runs, connecting six times in a three-game series versus the Cubs in late August. That barrage of long balls at Wrigley Field was part of his 22-game hitting streak, the longest in the majors this year.

Abreu gave credit to manager Rick Renteria, who left the team after the season in what was labeled as a mutual decision. Recently hired Hall of Fame skipper Tony La Russa is now facing charges in a drunken driving arrest; Abreu said he was eager to play for La Russa.

“Keep pushing forward, keep moving forward,” Abreu said.

Abreu was the 2014 AL Rookie of the Year and is a three-time All-Star.

He became the fourth White Sox player to collect the AL MVP, joining Frank Thomas (1993-94), Dick Allen (1972) and Nellie Fox (1959).

Abreu was the third Cuban-born player to be an MVP, along with Jose Canseco and Zoilo Versalles.

Smooth around the bag, Abreu ended an MVP drought for AL first basemen. None had won the award since Justin Morneau for Minnesota in 2006; Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto won the National League MVP in 2010.

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman’s receipt of the NL MVP prize also makes this the first time since Ryan Howard and Morneau that a pair of first basemen won the MVPs.

Freeman got a $185,185 bonus and Abreu received $37,037 for winning in contract bonuses prorated because of the shortened season.

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Aaron Judge first Yankee in 13 years to homer in 5 straight

Aaron Judge homered for the fifth straight game Sunday, becoming the first New York Yankees player in 13 years to accomplish the feat.

The big slugger connected off left-handed reliever Matt Hall in the second inning, sending a three-run drive off the second deck in left field at Yankee Stadium to give New York a 3-2 lead over the Boston Red Sox. Judge went deep again in the eighth, blasting a two-run shot off Matt Barnes to give the Yankees their final two runs in a 9-7 victory.

“I really think he’s on a mission right now,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. The previous Yankees hitter to go deep in five consecutive games was Alex Rodriguez in September 2007.

Judge joined A-Rod as the only players in club history to hit five home runs in the first eight games of a season. Rodriguez also did that in 2007.

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With no fans allowed at Yankee Stadium because of the coronavirus pandemic, teammates in the dugout were easily heard bellowing in excitement when Judge connected.

“Not locked in yet. Still trying to find it,” Judge said. “I’m feeling good.”

Judge, who used the coronavirus hiatus to rehab a fractured first right rib and subsequent punctured lung, entered the shortened season with a clean bill of health. 

“He’s healthy, man. He’s a stud,” Yankees first baseman Luke Voit said. “He’s in a groove right now. It’s a guy that you don’t want to take your eyes off when he’s hitting.”

Judge had never homered in four games in a row until he connected during Saturday’s 5-2 triumph over Boston. The two-time All-Star led the American League with 52 home runs in 2017, when he was the AL Rookie of the Year and runner-up for MVP. Limited by injuries the past two years, Judge hit 27 homers each campaign.

The home runs Sunday gave Judge six homers and 14 RBIs in eight games this year.

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