'He's a phenomenal hitter': Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu looks to extend his August success

ARLINGTON, Texas — Jose Abreu laughed as he wondered if August was his favorite month to hit.

The numbers make a strong case.

Abreu has a .334/.389/.606 slash line with 58 doubles, 58 home runs, 172 RBIs, 146 runs scored and a .995 OPS in 219 games in August.

The 58 home runs are 17 more than any other month (41 in May). His 172 RBIs are 29 more (143 in May), and his .995 OPS is .152 higher (.843 in July).

His 172 RBIs in August since 2014 are the most in the majors.

“I think it’s just the work because my body feels good,” Abreu said through an interpreter Thursday afternoon at Globe Life Field. “But this time of the season, my body always feels good. I hope I can carry that into the future and still feel good and healthy like I did in August.

“There is no key for me, I just work.”

He is 5-for-16 with two home runs and six RBIs in the team’s first four games this month. To be fair, Abreu’s recent tear started much earlier.

He’s slashing .374/.425/.568 with 12 doubles, five home runs, 23 RBIs and 11 walks in his last 36 games. Abreu has 17 multi-hit performances during that stretch, hitting safely in 32 of those games and reaching base safely in 34.

“I don’t know how I feel right now, but I will say that I won’t get tired of working hard to get the results I want to get,” Abreu said.

Abreu, 35, entered Friday’s game against the Texas Rangers hitting .302/.383/.477 with 14 home runs and 55 RBI this season.

“He’s a phenomenal hitter,” Sox first baseman and outfielder Andrew Vaughn said earlier this week. “Seriously, he’s one of the best in the league. Just to watch it go day after day. He had problems the first month of the year, and everyone was like, ‘Wait, just wait. It is (Abreu). He is going to come back. … He is just doing his thing.”

Abreu’s 135 more weighted runs created (wRC+), according to fangraphs.com, ranks 11th in the American League. The stat estimates a player’s offensive contribution in total runs and adjusts that number to account for external factors such as stadium and era. The major league average is 100, which means Abreu is 35% above that.

Abreu leads the AL with 119 hits and leads the Sox in doubles (27, sixth in the AL), home runs, RBIs, walks (48), slugging and OPS (.860, eighth in the AL). The 48 walks are 13 shy of matching his career high of 61 in 2021.

“He’s hitting well and I hope he keeps hitting because he helps the team,” left fielder Eloy Jimenez said earlier this week. “He is working hard. If you’re working hard, something like that is going to happen.”

Sox manager Tony La Russa praised Abreu’s preparation.

“He was here, him, Eloy and (catcher Yasmani Grandal) from the machine probably hit a hundred balls each,” La Russa said Thursday. “His work ethic and his competitive fire is as good as anything I’ve ever met. It’s hard, very, very hard.”

While Abreu has spent most of the season at first base (83 games), he has seen more time as a designated hitter (20) than in all of last season (18). He has been productive in both roles, slashing .294/.372/.462 in 358 plate appearances while at first and .333/.429/.539 in 91 plate appearances as a designated hitter.

“I think he knows, (that) benefits him and benefits us,” La Russa said.

The Sox hope it continues as they try to track down the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Guardians in the AL Central. The Sox entered Friday in third place, two games behind the division-leading Twins and one game behind the Guardians.

“We are a good team,” Abreu said. “We know that. Our goal has to be to try to stay healthy. If we stay healthy and stay on the field, we know we’re going to be fine.

“Our mindset, let’s give these (57) games everything to see what happens. Let’s do our best. Let’s work hard together. We’ll see at the end. That’s our mindset right now.”

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