Someone should tell Jose Abreu the White Sox are out of the pennant race this season.
The 29-year-old has transformed his OBP in the last month after reaching base safely in the last 29 consecutive games he’s started. On Friday, with Twins’ right-hander Kyle Gibson on the mound, Abreu rocked a line drive into center field during his first at-bat of the night and now sits just one game away from establishing a new franchise record:
It’s a positive turn for the Sox’ first baseman, who found himself mired in a hitting slump during the first half of 2016 and was staring at a .262/.325/.413 batting line heading into August. Notwithstanding his current on-base streak, FanGraphs still puts him at a career-worst mark of 0.8 Wins Above Replacement (fWAR), well below the 5.3 fWAR he carried in 2014.
Abreu credits White Sox assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks for getting him back on track this season, according to Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun Times.
Once he told me that we created a routine to take advantage of my hands. And the results have been there. He saw something, he told me and we started working on it on a daily basis. That’s been the key for me.
Will his adjustments at the plate be enough to dig the White Sox out of fourth place in the AL Central? Unlikely. But Abreu’s hitting like there’s no tomorrow, and no matter where his team ends up this season, that’s something to celebrate.
The Giants announced on Tuesday the hiring of Gabe Kapler as manager. Kapler, filling the extremely large shoes of future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy, inked a three-year deal, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Kapler was one of three finalists for the job, beating out Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quataro.
Following his 12-year playing career, Kapler was a coach for Israel’s team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier. He then became an analyst for FS1 before joining the Dodgers’ front office as the director of player development in November 2014. He was involved in three scandals there: one in which he tried to handle a sexual assault incident involving two Dodgers minor league players without telling police, one in which he allegedly discriminated against Nick Francona, a veteran and former baseball operations employee, and an incident that implicated most of the Dodgers’ front office concerning the recruiting of international free agents. The Dodgers reportedly kept a spreadsheet of employees and their level of criminality.
Despite Kapler’s background, the Phillies hired him as their manager ahead of the 2018 season. He would lead the Phillies to an 80-82 record that year and then helped them improve by one game in 2019, finishing at exactly .500 before being fired. Kapler’s tenure in Philly was tumultuous, often drawing ire from the local media and subsequently the fan base for not being tough enough on his players. The Phillies also reportedly had a clubhouse issue in 2018 in which players were playing video games in the clubhouse during games, prompting Carlos Santana to smash a TV with a bat.
Kapler has a history with Farhan Zaidi, the Giants’ president of baseball operations. They worked together in the Dodgers’ front office as Zaidi served as GM from November 2014-18.