Jose Abreu isn't a rookie. Just like Ichiro wasn't a rookie when MLB gave him credit for being one.
It's simply how the system works. Abreu, at 27, has been playing high level baseball for years. He just hasn't done it here. He doesn't get paid like a rookie. He doesn't play like a rookie. He never spent a day in the minor leagues in the U.S. He never needed to.
He's further proof that MLB might have to look at its rookie designation. Because when Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka are duking it out for the AL Rookie of the Year, there's something wrong.
George Springer is the kind of player the award was meant for, one who didn't have a ton of experience and is a young player just breaking into the league after his call-up.
But, the rules are the way they are, so with Tanaka out for an indefinite amount of time with an elbow injury, Abreu just became the leader for the honor. And, in this case, he certainly deserves it.
On Saturday, he hit his 29th homer of the season. He's on pace for the best rookie home run season ever. And that's saying a lot.
Second place might be reach soon. There are two players - Frank Robinson and Wally Berger - tied at 38. The tall task will be topping Mark McGwire's 49.
The record race
But there will be plenty of people in his corner in that race, seeing how McGwire isn't baseball's favorite player to reminisce about at this point.
Abreu hit 10 homers in June and has been named AL Rookie of the Month in both May and June. The only other player to win it was Springer.
"In Cuba, we don't have that many awards. You never get that many awards," Abreu told MLB.com through translator Lino Diaz. "That is probably why I look kind of cold when I get these awards here because we're not used to that."
Frank Thomas and Jim Thome are the only other two White Sox players to hit at least 10 homers in two different calendar months in the same season. That one has nothing to do with being a rookie.
And it shouldn't, because Abreu is great no matter what category he's put in. He's hitting .287 entering Sunday with a .631 slugging percentage and .969 OPS.
He's just good. The best the White Sox have had for awhile, no offense to Paul Konerko, the guy he replaced.
Abreu is everything the White Sox hoped he would be when they paid him $68 million of six years. At the time, that looked like a huge contract. Now, it looks like a bargain.
He's that good. Just don't think of him as a rookie, which MLB considers him. Because Abreu's better than that.
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