Just in case you’ve missed it — Jose Abreu, earlier, was a massive disappointment. For as long as the White Sox were worth paying attention to this year, Abreu was underachieving. It was one of the critical things holding them back, as Abreu generated a first-half line that was a little worse than average. In the second half, as the White Sox have faded, Abreu’s been fantastic. That’s not to suggest there’s some sort of weird-ass inverse relationship between Abreu’s hitting and Chicago’s winning. Abreu has just found his footing again. He’s playing like an All-Star again. That should make the White Sox feel better as they turn their attention to the offseason ahead.
So, Abreu’s improved. The power is up, and he’s cut down on the whiffs. But, about some of those whiffs. It’s probably too late in the year for Abreu to pull off the full Strikeout Bingo. He’d have to really make an effort. Nevertheless, he’s gotten halfway there. It’s a notable accomplishment, if not one Abreu would want to talk about.
About a month ago I composed an InstaGraphs post regarding a recent Abreu strikeout. Let’s watch it again:
That was, and is, the most outside strikeout of the season. It took place on August 25, and the pitch was more than three feet away from the center of home plate when it crossed the front plane. You can give some credit to Steve Cishek, sure. At that point, Cishek was responsible for the two most outside strikeouts of the season. But, I mean, still. It’s a bad look for Abreu. That was a bad pitch that just happened to also be a strikeout pitch.
Coincidentally, this happened six days ago:
That right there is the new second-most outside strikeout of the season. Where the leaderboard used to read 1) Jose Abreu, 2) Javier Baez, now it reads 1) Jose Abreu, 2) Jose Abreu. This pitch was almost three feet away from the center of the plate. Sometimes two is a fluke. This doesn’t feel so much like a fluke. But anyway, we’re not here to talk about the strikeout on September 16. See, there was a new strikeout on September 21. That’s yesterday!
Again, you can never take credit completely away from the pitcher. Jerad Eickhoff must’ve done something to get Abreu to chase. And the legitimacy of this strikeout could be argued — what is, and isn’t, a properly checked swing is poorly defined, and Abreu’s swing was right on the edge. This just as easily could’ve been called a ball, and then, who knows? But I’m most interested in results, here, and the result that you see goes in the books as a swinging strikeout. This is the lowest strikeout of the season.
The pitch bounced in the dirt, in front of the plate, and according to tracking technology, had the ball somehow passed through the surface of the Earth without having its trajectory changed, it would’ve crossed the front plane 1.6 feet below the dish. That edges out a bad early swing by Travis Shaw, and so you don’t need me to tell you this, but just to make sure we’re all on the same page, Abreu now has the most outside strikeout and the lowest strikeout. That gives him two out of four, not counting the center freebie. So he’s either 50% to Bingo, or 60% to Bingo, depending on how you prefer the math. I’m not going to squabble.
Abreu has had some inside-strikeout contenders, and some high-strikeout contenders. In both areas, he’s so far fallen short, but it’s not for lack of trying. Here are all the 2016 strikeouts, for both righties and lefties. I flipped the locations to lefties around so the plot goes from inside to outside, left to right.
Abreu doesn’t whiff inside that often. He’s definitely gone after some high heaters. But there are three strikeouts here that really stand out. Four? Four strikeouts? There are bad strikeouts. Back to the most recent one.
You can see where the ball struck the dirt, here:
That doesn’t do a great job of giving you perspective — you can see the ball bounced in front of the plate, but you can’t really see by how much. Here is a demonstration of by how much. The ball bounced so far in front of the plate that it bounced back up almost into the strike zone.
After the bounce, the pitch was still away, but it was roughly even with Abreu’s knees. In theory, had he waited on the pitch just right, he could’ve hit a single or a double that would’ve made it on all the highlight shows. Abreu could’ve been a viral superstar. Maybe he’d meet the president. Instead, Abreu swung at a pitch that wasn’t really there, and then the pitch that was actually there passed by, with some dirt on it. The side view is appropriately damning:
There’s that puff of dirt. It’s almost off the screen. This all took place in the top of the first, and as Abreu returned to his own dugout, Steve Stone asked, “Do I get to change my pick to click?” Hawk Harrelson chuckled. Abreu’s strikeout was so bad even Hawk Harrelson found it funny instead of embarrassing.
When Abreu got to the bench, he slammed some stuff around out of frustration, the way men do. But to his credit, along the way, he paused to do a favor.
Abreu was upset at no one but himself. I think you can learn a lot from the way people behave when they’re displeased. Some people lash out at others. Some people just shut out the world. And some people realize that everyone’s fighting his or her own battle, and you should never elevate yourself over anyone else. Jose Abreu, in the moment, was disappointed in Jose Abreu. But still he allowed his light to keep shining.
The White Sox have just 10 games left. If Abreu doesn’t play in all of them, he’ll probably play in nine. So he does still have some slim shot at winning 2016’s Strikeout Bingo competition. You might be wondering who and what he has to beat. Abreu just achieved the season’s lowest strikeout. The season’s highest strikeout occurred on May 7, and the hitter responsible was Mark Trumbo:
Meanwhile, the season’s most inside strikeout occurred on May 1. The hitter responsible was…Mark Trumbo.
Competition’s heating up. Hold onto your god-damned hats.
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.