Jose Abreu is third-fastest in MLB history to reach 30 career home runs

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White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu homered and knocked in three runs in last night’s 8-3 victory over the Twins at Target Field. In doing so, he became the first player in the majors to reach 30 home runs this season. The rookie slugger is also now is some historic territory.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Abreu is the third-fastest in MLB history to reach 30 career home runs. Rudy York needed 79 games to get there in 1937 while Mark McGwire got there in 84 games in 1987. Abreu needed 89 games. Ryan Braun was previously third on the list, as he got there in 94 games in 2007.

Abreu is also the third Cuban-born rookie to reach 30 home runs in a season. Jose Canseco (1986) and Tony Oliva (1964) are the others.

Abreu joined the White Sox on a six-year, $68 million contract over the winter and has quickly made that look like a bargain. The 27-year-old is first in the majors in home runs and slugging percentage (.610) and second in RBI (77). Despite all his success, he’s managed to remain pretty humble about it. Check out these quotes from Abreu after last night’s game, courtesy of Nate Gotlieb of CSNChicago.com:

“I knew that I was going to have some good results,” he said through Lino Diaz, the White Sox manager of cultural development, “but I definitely wasn’t thinking 30 home runs right away.”

“I am very, very thankful for the things life has given me, and this is one of them,” he said. “So I’m very thankful to be able to do that, and I am also very thankful to all of the people that have helped me one way or another to be able to do this, so, you know, all I can tell you is that I’m proud of it, and as long as we can keep playing good and helping the team, that’ll be great.”

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉