- Cliff Talley, Action Sports
Jose Abreu took back sole custody of first place in the majors in home runs Sunday afternoon, slugging his 10th off David Price in a 9-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. Hitting .262/.330/.631 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs, Abreu has had an initial month in the majors that represents one of the best debuts in baseball history. He's not done yet either.
There has been little adjustment period for Cuban émigré Abreu, going straight from Cienfuegos to Chicago without any intermediate stop in the minor leagues or, apparently, any steepness in his learning curve. That in itself is an impressive feat. The best players in Cuba's Serie Nacional can compete side-by-side with major leaguers, but the league's closed nature means it doesn't have the same kind of depth from top to bottom as MLB or Nippon Professional Baseball. When translating Cuban stats to project players coming to the U.S., the translations that are most accurate place the Serie Nacional at roughly the level of the California League, a high-Class A minor league.
Dan Szymborski breaks down rookie phenomenon Jose Abreu's numbers so far this season and takes a look at whether the Cuban immigrant will make a run for Rookie of the Year.