The Chicago White Sox took a risk when they signed Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu this off-season. It was a calculated risk, of course; Abreu is 27 years old, the prime for position players, and has proven power.
If Abreu could successfully make the transition to hit Major League pitching then the deal would pay off. If he was not able to hit big league pitching, a concern that was held by some folks around the league, then the White Sox would have some questions to answer after inking Abreu to a $68 million deal.
The first month of the 2014 season is in the books, and Abreu has answered any concerns in resounding fashion. Through 29 games Abreu has shown elite power: .270/.336/.617 with 10 home runs and 32 RBI. Those 10 round-trippers lead the Major Leagues and those 32 RBI set a rookie record.
He will have to prove that he can keep it up over the course of the season, but so far so good for the man who left Cuba less than one year ago.
Abreu is not the only unconventional American League rookie off to a great start: Masahiro Tanaka has dazzled so far in the New York Yankees rotation. We could have one heck of an American League Rookie of the Year race shaping up, something that Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated discussed this week:
Both players are in their prime and have experience as professionals, making it hard to truly consider them rookies. That should only make for a more intriguing race as these two players continue their surge onto the American League scene.