Jose Abreu has had a pretty darn nice couple of days.
- On Saturday the White Sox’ first baseman hit for the cycle, going 4-for-5 with three RBI;
- On Sunday he hit two homers, going 2-for-3, drawing a walk and driving in three;
- Last night he fell a homer short of the cycle, walking in his final plate appearance instead, finishing the night 4-for-5 with two driven in.
Over those three games the White Sox have outscored their opponent, the Giants and Royals, 32-5. Abreu has upped his line from .295/.347/.531 to .306/.358/.564. That’s an OPS increase of .044, which is pretty dang impressive for three games.
All of this comes after he spent the latter half of last week worrying that his family and friends in Cuba were in danger from Hurricane Irma. Indeed, after his cycle on Saturday he said that he hadn’t slept well for days. He heard over the weekend, however, that his loved ones were safe, so perhaps this is what relief looks like.
We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.
Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”
Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).
Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.