José Abreu's value to the Chicago White Sox has never been in question. The question has always been, how much more valuable could José Abreu be with a competitive supporting cast.
We got the answer in 2020.
The slugging first baseman was named the American League's Most Valuable Player Thursday after helping lead Chicago to the postseason for the first time since 2008. He's the fourth different White Sox player to win the award, joining Nellie Fox (1959), Dick Allen (1972) and Frank Thomas (1993, 1994).
Abreu also joins an exclusive group of Cuban-born players to win the award.
Abreu received 21 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Cleveland Indians infielder José Ramírez, who finished third in the MVP balloting in 2017 and 2018, finished second in 2020 with eight first-place votes. DJ LeMahieu of the New York Yankees finished third.
Here are the full standings, via the BBWAA. You can find individual ballots on their site.
As with most of the award races in 2020, the small sample size makes it more difficult to separate the top contenders. Abreu, who signed a three-year contract extension with the White Sox prior to the 2020 season, stood out because he elevated his game beyond his already high standards.
Every time the White Sox needed a big hit, it seemed like Abreu was the one to deliver it. The 33-year-old played all 60 games, finishing with 19 home runs and an MLB-leading 60 RBIs. He also slashed a career-best .317/.370/.617.
Abreu’s challengers deserve some recognition as well.
Ramírez made another strong MVP push this season. Cleveland’s third baseman was especially good in September, where over 23 games he hit .366 with a 1.294 OPS, 10 homers, 24 RBIs and nine doubles. His offensive production helped Cleveland snap an eight-game losing streak and bounce back to make the postseason at a time when Francisco Lindor was struggling and other role players weren't consistently producing.
Despite missing 10 games due to injury, LeMahieu won his second career batting title after slashing .364/.421/.590. His .364 average was 42 points higher than second place finisher Tim Anderson, who won the batting title last season. LeMahieu finished with a remarkable 71 hits in 50 games and even connected for 10 home runs, which put him on pace for a career-best season.
Considering the lengthy injury absences of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and others, LeMahieu's steady presence was even more valuable than usual.
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