White Sox slugger Jose Abreu is rebounding from his 2018 slump in a big way after the All-Star Break.
No ladies and gentlemen, All-Star Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu’s annual post-All-Star-Break rampages are not a figment of your imagination. They’re real, and it looks like he’s ready to get his summer tour of destruction ramped up once more in 2018.
Over his last 12 games, Abreu is slashing .404/.462/1.355 with six home runs and 11 RBI, including three long balls in his last five games. Everything he hits seems to find a hole, as evidenced by his .433 average on batted balls in play.
Sure, that’s not a huge sample size (he has 47 at-bats in that span), but perhaps a little background will set this trend up for you.
Over his five-year career in Chicago, Abreu has always gotten stronger as the season progresses and the weather warms up.
Jose Abreu about to catch fire again pic.twitter.com/o0lNKB2HUB
— Red Line Radio (@RedLineRadio) July 24, 2018
In the first halves of seasons, Abreu slashes .282/.334/.835 for his career. Far from terrible, but not quite up to his standards. In second halves, though, the slugger posts a substantially improved .317/.384/.929 line.
This year, the difference has been even more stark, with Abreu slumping through the first half (.253/.311/.752) before going full-on “running riot” to start the second half (.357/.428/.1.205).
Now, we all know he won’t keep up this kind of pace throughout the entire second half, of course. But if history says anything about Abreu, it’s that his first-half issues are rarely anything to worry about long-term.
And if you want to look for signs that he can continue his torrid pace through the end of the season, how about a dive into Fangraphs land?
Compared with his first-half performance — again, over a much larger sample size, we know — Abreu is squaring the ball up at a ridiculous rate right now, with less than 10% of balls he hits qualifying as “soft” contact and more than 50% of balls he’s hit since the All-Star Break being of the “hard” contact variety.
On top of that, he’s been using the middle of the field far more in the last two months than he did to start the season. Look no further than his last two home runs: a couple of bombs to straight-away center field against Tampa Bay.
Third straight game with a homer for Jose Abreu!
— Bleacher Report MLB (@BR_MLB) August 4, 2018
Whatever his old hitting coach from Cuba (Marcos Hernandez) told him a few weeks ago must have worked, because he’s suddenly returning to what makes him such a dangerous hitter in the first place: the ability to spray line drives all over the field.
Of course, this is of little consequence to the White Sox as a team right now, as their lone goals right now are just to avoid 100 losses and keep people interested until Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech finally show up. Plus, people have been discussing the possibility of trading Abreu for much of the past year as the team seeks to build a contender for the future.
But assuming the White Sox keep Abreu around for the long haul, both to mentor this group of young talent (especially the young Latino ballplayers like Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, and Luis Robert) and keep his bat in the lineup, knowing that you can count on Abreu to turn things around in the midst of a tough season is invaluable.
Plus, when this team finally does get geared up for a playoff run sometime in the next few seasons, it doesn’t hurt to have a guy that always turns it on in the second half, does it?
Follow Khari Thompson on Twitter–Feature Photo Credit: Duane Burleson/Getty Images North America