Big Hurt on AL MVP race: Cruz hurt by DHing, helps Abreu originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
It’s been 26 years since the White Sox had an MVP, and for the first time since 1994, the Pale Hose have multiple players being considered for the league’s highest honor.
José Abreu and Tim Anderson are among a group that is favored to win the American League MVP award in the latest odds provided by PointsBet Sportsbook. Among others leading the charge are Twins designated hitter and White Sox killer Nelson Cruz, who came into Monday’s game against the White Sox as the American League leader in OPS.
But, Frank Thomas, the last White Sox player to capture MVP honors (back-to-back in 1993 and 1994), said Monday on White Sox Pregame Live that Abreu has the leg up because he plays first base.
“If DH was considered a position player, I would’ve won five MVPs," Thomas said. "I lost three MVPs cause they said ‘He’s a DH.’ I hit .318 with 43 HRs, led the league in runs scored, everything else, did not win the league MVP, and we were a first place team. So, DH’ing definitely hurts your chances of being an MVP.”
The Big Hurt played first base for the White Sox when we won the award in 1993 and 1994, but transitioned to a full time designated hitter later in his career. He led the White Sox to the 2000 AL Central title with eye popping numbers. He hit .328 with career highs in HR (43) and RBI (143), only to finish second to Jason Giambi.
Thomas certainly had a case in his first year in Oakland, where he finished fourth in MVP voting. He also finished third in voting in 1991 and 1997.
So who does the Hall of Famer give the nod to with the AL Central race up for grabs?
“José Abreu, in my eyes right now, is the American League MVP,” Thomas said.
Abreu leads Major League Baseball in RBI, and for sabermetricians who downplay the statistic, Thomas, who ranks 26th all-time with 1,704 RBI has a thought on that, too.
“You got to have that guy who can drive in the big runs, that’s what wins ballgames," Thomas said. "I don’t want to hear WAR, I don’t want to hear all this other stuff. It’s about who’s going to swing the bat with two strikes and drive in that big run so your team can win.”
“RBI is the biggest stat in baseball and it’s always been. You can get anybody to hit with nobody on base, but when those men are out there in scoring position, the real true hitters, they show up when the team needs them, especially in two-out situations and José Abreu has been all about that all year long.”
Time will tell as the White Sox and Twins duke it out for the 2020 AL Central title, but big praise from the only White Sox player to ever win dual MVP Awards