Right on Q: Learning to love Jose Abreu

Jonathan Daniel

Jose Abreu is off to a smoldering start. He's already conquered Major League pitching. Can he conquer Sox fan neuroses?

I'm a White Sox fan.

Which means it is impossible to fully enjoy the Jose Abreu experience. That's because The Darkness is always lurking in the shadows. The Darkness, of course, is the non-corporeal entity that consumes talented White Sox players before they can become superstars.

Dick Allen? MVP in '72. Broken leg in '73. Quit on team in '74.

Carlos Quentin? Breaks wrist in a fit of rage. Battles injury bug in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Gordon Beckham? The league adjusted to him. He couldn't adjust back.

Frank Thomas was able to escape the funk, but his was a Faustian Bargain. During his prime years of 1991-1997, the White Sox made the postseason once. He put up MVP caliber numbers in 2000, only to lose out to a roided-up Jason Giambi. When the White Sox finally won it all in 2005, Big Frank was already sidelined for the season. He was reduced to throwing out the first pitch before Game 1 of the ALDS.

Paul Konerko fell into the abyss in 2003. Adam Dunn disappeared in 2011.

Don't get me wrong ... I love watching Jose Abreu. I haven't felt this way about a player since Carlos Quentin in 2008. When Jose Abreu steps up to the plate ... everything stops. You have to watch.

The downside is the little voice in the back of my head that says, "He'll get hurt and never be the same! The league will figure him out! He's too good to be true!"

The injury concerns were amplified this week, when Avisail Garcia was lost for the season. If Abreu was Batman, Garcia was Robin. If Abreu was Frank Thomas, Garcia was ... Robin (Ventura).

Instead, Abreu will be the man who rides alone.

Frank Thomas, by the way, is having a hard time with the Abreu comparisons. Thomas' reaction makes sense. It takes a sociopathic level of competitiveness to make it as a professional athlete. Thomas may have retired, but he can't turn off his competitive instinct. He must defend his honor.

That being said. Here's Frank Thomas' triple-slash line through his first ten games in 1990:

.273/.351/.364 with no home runs.

Here's Jose Abreu through ten games:

.300/.383/.700 with four home runs.

A couple of key differences here: Frank Thomas made his Major League debut late in the 1990 season. The starting first baseman in 1990 was Carlos Martinez. Abreu was handed the starting job right out of the chute.

Abreu, to his credit, isn't buying the comparisons either. He told the Tribune:

"We all know what (Thomas) has done; we know what he has accomplished," Abreu said through a team interpreter before Friday night's game against the Indians. "For any player to be compared to a legend, someone as great as him, would be an incredible complement."

It would be nice if he could sustain that performance over the course of a decade. But right now, I will promise to stop worrying and learn to love Abreu unconditionally.

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