White Sox rookie first baseman Jose Abreu continued his power show yesterday, smacking his 14th homer of the season. Not only does that lead all of MLB this year, Abreu is just the seventh player in baseball history with at least 14 homers through his first 40 career games.
Here’s the complete list, via Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index:
Wally Joyner 15
Wally Berger 15
Albert Pujols 14
Mike Jacobs 14
Kevin Maas 14
Sam Horn 14
JOSE ABREU 14
That’s a pretty weird list, actually. Albert Pujols is amazing, Wally Berger was a great hitter in the 1930s, and Wally Joyner was a good hitter for a long time, although he never really showed a ton of power after that fast start. And then Sam Horn, Kevin Maas, and Mike Jacobs combined to hit 227 career homers.
Abreu is already 27 years old, but even then I’d certainly feel safer grouping him closer to Pujols than to, say, Maas and Jacobs. But then again once upon a time people felt the same way about Maas too.
Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.
“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”
Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.
The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.