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.
The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.
Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.
Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.