- Senior editor, MLB at ESPN.com
The American League MVP race in the shortened 60-game 2020 season came down to a pair of sluggers named Jose from the AL Central (and third-place finisher DJ LeMahieu). Here’s why Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu edged Cleveland Indians infielder Jose Ramirez for the AL’s top individual honor.
The number that says it best
60. RBIs might not carry as much weight with MVP voters as they once did, but Abreu’s 60 runs batted in during a 60-game season demonstrates the kind of impact he had in the middle of Chicago’s potent lineup — the most RBIs in a team’s first 60 games of a season since Miguel Cabrera drove in 67 in 2013.
Abreu’s MVP is something of an old-school victory as he paced the AL in RBIs and finished second in home runs and fourth in batting average, while Ramirez led the American League in WAR (3.4 to Abreu’s 2.6, according to Fangraphs’ formula) by a healthy margin. But for those who scoff at Triple Crown numbers, Abreu’s Win Probability Added was also the highest of the three AL finalists.
A deeper dive
Abreu can thank his performance with runners on base for netting him his first MVP Award. In 120 at-bats with runners on, Abreu took his game to another level by batting .333 with 48 RBIs.
Abreu becomes the fourth White Sox player to win an MVP award, and the third first baseman to do it. The last MVP on the South Side was Frank Thomas, who won back-to-back awards in 1993-94, and before that Dick Allen won in 1972.
The day after having his 22-game hitting streak ended, Jose Abreu came back and put up his best performance of the 2020 season when he belted two home runs and drove in seven runs against the Detroit Tigers.
Just ask his teammate
“I’m just glad that he’s on our team because I can’t imagine how difficult it is for the other pitcher to face him.” — White Sox pitcher Reynaldo Lopez.
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