NEWS FLASH: I love it when the BSI staff is really paying attention. Staff writer Rick McNair picked me up right after I published the article below on Cuba’s Jose Abreu. Yesterday Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan tweeted that Abreu will have a showcase for major league teams in September since he defected last week and has already hired an agent. He’s likely to command the biggest contract ever for a Cuban free agent and is expected to be seeking a deal in excess of $60 million. I wrote earlier today…
In his dreams, Ted Williams would have a season like this; .453 batting average; .597 on-base percentage; .986 slugging percentage, thirty-three homers and 93 runs batted in – in only 212 at-bats. Meet Jose Abreu, possibly the best hitter in the world right now.
At 6′ 3″, 240 pounds, Abreu is a classic power hitting first baseman for Cienfuegos in Serie Nacional, Cuba’s top baseball league. If Abreu’s numbers published above aren’t enough to turn your head, here are the numbers that will.
Abreu put up his god-like numbers last season over the course of a 90 game schedule. It gets better. He was injured with bursitis in his shoulder for 23 of them so he really did this in 67 games. Do the math. 33 homers in 67 games. That’s a pace of 80 dingers over the course of a 162 game schedule.
I gleaned my information from an excellent in-depth piece on Abreu written by www.grantland.com’s Jonah Keri that can be found here. In the article, Keri takes you inside the cloistered world of Cuban baseball where stats are meticulously kept but not much else. In it he alludes to some of the extremes in the league, where one day a hitter faces a budding Aroldis Chapman and the next a gray-haired 40-something junk baller.
Because scouts only get to see Abreu briefly during international competitions and are excluded from seeing him during Cuban national play, his legend and the attendant murkiness surrounding this now 23- year old becomes all the more compelling. Read Keri’s piece to get an insightful, highly entertaining insider’s view.