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.”
Earlier today we talked about how David Price was knocked around in a minor league rehab start. Apparently he felt good while being knocked around because he’s going to make a start for the Red Sox on Monday afternoon against the White Sox.
Healthy is all that truly matters at this point, what with Drew Pomeranz struggling and Steven Wright out for the year. The Sox need someone to eat some innings at the moment. If it takes him a bit to get super sharp, well, so be it.
Recently, in the wake of Noah Syndergaard‘s injury, we talked about velocity and the maximal effort exerted by pitchers in throwing each pitch. We talked about how, simply as a matter of observation, pitchers seem to take longer between pitches, in part to maximize the energy available. About how we hear them talk about “executing pitches” all the time, with each of the 90-100 pitches they make each game being treated like an individual performance, each of which can be judged as successful or not.
Today at FiveThirtyEight, Rob Arthur puts some numbers to all of that and concludes, not surprisingly, that there is a pretty strong correlation between the dramatic uptick in velocity we’ve seen over the past decade or so and the length of games, which has grown longer over that time. Seems that, yep, pitchers are taking longer precisely because doing so gives them extra ticks on the radar gun.
Indeed, Arthur finds that for every additional second pitchers take between pitches, they throw about .02 miles per hour harder. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but as Arthur demonstrates, each little bit adds up. Those seconds, over 100-150 pitchers per team per game add up in time, obviously. And, based on past research Arthur cites regarding the correlation between pitcher velocity and pitcher effectiveness, those miles per hour add up in terms of team wins.
All of which adds some spice to the whole game length/game pace debate. We’d all like to see things move along more quickly, but doing so will likely impact player effectiveness, which will in turn make it harder to get teams and players to agree to measures designed to speed things up.