Positive Evaluation of New White Sox 1B

Dan Farnsworth of FanGraph’s breaks down new White Sox 1B Jose Abreu’s swing in great detail:

In my opinion, the path and sequence of the bat are the most important parts of the swing. The best hitters in the game all get on the same plane as the ball quickly and stay on it for a long time. This requires being on a slight uppercut angle to match the ball’s slight downward trajectory.

This article borders on extreme nerdy analysis, so proceed with caution. Abreu was handed the biggest total money contract in White Sox history. He is going to follow one franchise icon at 1B, who was already basically following another franchise icon1. He is the third Cuban positional player the White Sox have acquired in the last 10 years or so.

Alexei Ramirez is 33rd in career bWAR already, ahead of guys like Jose Valentin, Tim Raines and Dick Allen. It stands to reason that he could pass Ozzie Guillen, Bill Melton and others and move into the top 20 with a decent year, and could crack the top 20 with a good year. Dayan Viciedo is about to enter his 5th season with the big club, and despite a 38-game debut season in 2010 that got people amped, he has been mostly disappointing.

Do the success of those two mean anything for Abreu? Of course not. Yoenis Cespedes has been good, but not great so far in two seasons. Yasiel Puig was phenomenal in 104 games so far. But every guys is different. Abreu has been noted for having lousy bat speed, that would hurt him in the majors. Farnsworth’s breakdown says otherwise. Abreu is 26, so he the same age as Cespedes was last year. There is a lot of power here, but can he be more than another Adam Dunn or Viciedo, lots of raw power, but too many strikeouts.

Whether Abreu likes it or not, the near future success of the White Sox hinges mainly on him. A $10M+/year contract will do that. Avisail Garcia looked good after coming over in a trade. Viciedo is only going to be 25 on opening day, and Dunn still has some pop. So it’s possible that the middle of the lineup could be good, or at least better. As bad as the offense was last year, they need to step up to fix the issues that cost the team a lot of wins. If Abreu can’t adjust to major league pitching, the next few seasons are going to be very long for Sox fans.

  1. Konerko and Thomas are 1st and 2nd in franchise games played at 1B, and except for 1998 when Thomas was DH’ing and Will Cordero was playing 1B, no one else has played a majority of games there in over 20 years []