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Jose Abreu is the 2020 American League MVP

Original Image Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Finally, most of the way through a crazy week in the White Sox universe, some good news has arrived. And, all things considered, there isn’t a more deserving person in the sport.

After a dominant 2020 season that saw him reach a new peak, Jose Abreu has brought home the highest individual honor baseball has to offer by winning the 2020 American League Most Valuable Player Award.

Certainly an argument could have been made for Jose Ramirez, DJ LaMahieu, or even Shane Bieber being a deserving MVP, it seemed that Abreu was the one who fit the bill for the “Valuable” in MVP.  The man who was at the heart of the first White Sox team to make the playoffs since the George W. Bush administration, who had gone through two separate rebuild phases, had to be the most valuable player in 2020.

While I think I’m convincing, the voters did tend to agree with me, putting Abreu in first by a sizable margin with 21 of 30 first place votes cast for him.

The fact of the matter is, Jose Abreu checked every box there is for the MVP.  When it comes to MVP moments, Jose had plenty of those.  Whether it was murdering the Cubs on their own field:

Homering off the eventual Cy Young winner is his first crack at Sunday Night Baseball in his career:

Going deep in his first playoff game:

Or tying a division rival in a pivotal game when his team desperately needed a spark:

Jose Abreu truly did it all in 2020.  When the White Sox needed him, he was there, every day for 60 games.

Storybook season, check.

Statistically, the 2020 season was the definition of a renaissance for Abreu, as he put up easily the best numbers of his career.

Jose Abreu career stats via FanGraphs

Compared to the rest of the league, Abreu was also in cruise control.  Looking back at a comparison of his stats I originally put together when Abreu was at his peak in early September, seemingly destined for an MVP:

Stat Value AL Rank
Home Runs 19 2
RBI 60 1
Runs Scored 43 3
Batting Average 0.317 4
Slugging Percentage 0.617 1
wRC+ 167 2
fWAR (Position Players) 2.6 3

Flat out dominance in basically every major offensive category.  Hell, the last time someone not named Jose Abreu led the American League in RBI’s, the White Sox hadn’t yet missed out on Manny Machado.  Say what you will about RBI’s, but no one is better at driving them in than MVPito.

Satisfying the numbers folks, check.  MVP Award, checkmate.

Of course, this MVP award comes down to more than numbers.  On top of the storybook moments I mentioned earlier, this award is about where Abreu stands in White Sox history, both all time and in this moment.  While being an all time great, he stands uniquely as the bridge between two distinct eras of this franchise, perhaps being the symbolic Moses leading the White Sox into their best era in 121 years of American League baseball.

Coming just about one year after the White Sox received some flack for what was viewed as a legacy, “thank you for service”, Reinsdorfian contract makes this award even sweeter.

Back a year ago, I would’ve put money on someone winning an MVP for the White Sox in this window.  It would have been cool if it were Tim Anderson.  It would have been cool if it were Yoan Moncada, or Luis Robert, or Eloy Jimenez, or anyone for that matter.  They very well may when this era is said and done.

But for it to be Mr. White Sox, the man who has put up with it all in his time, who has been here through losing and jersey cutting and children leading mutinies, who has been a archetypal professional for a franchise going through dark times?  A man who has quietly been one of the most productive players in baseball and one of the very best in franchise history? That is awesome.  There’s no other way to put it.

While the future is bright for this team, it’s important to take in this moment for an all time White Sox great.  Thanks for everything, Jose, this is for you.

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