Abreu adds GIBBY to rookie year honors
CHICAGO -- Jose Abreu's exceptional first year with the White Sox is closing out with yet another prestigious award.
The hard-hitting first baseman, who came to the South Side of Chicago from Cuba via free agency, earned MLB.com's Rookie of the Year Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Award. Winners were announced live during an awards show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday night, and Abreu was selected as Major League Baseball's top rookie overall.
Abreu was followed in the GIBBY voting by the Mets' Jacob deGrom, the Yankees' Dellin Betances, Yordano Ventura of the Royals, Billy Hamilton of the Reds, Collin McHugh from the Astros, Angels starter Matt Shoemaker, Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka, the Twins' Danny Santana and Houston's George Springer.
"He's got a lot of self-confidence -- obviously he doesn't speak a whole lot of English -- but you can see it exude out of his body and through his eyes," White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson said during a conference call this past Friday. "And as you watch through the course of the game taking his at-bats and when he comes back after potentially getting out, you can see that his want factor is very high."
Both Sporting News and Players Choice awarded Abreu the AL's top rookie honors as voted on by his peers. He was a unanimous choice for AL Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, finished fourth in 2014 AL Most Valuable Player BBWAA voting and captured a Silver Slugger. The 27-year-old, who agreed upon a six-year, $68 million deal with the White Sox, hit .317 with 176 hits, 35 doubles, 36 home runs, 107 RBIs, a .581 slugging percentage and a .383 on-base percentage over 145 games during the 2014 season.
"He's not the prototypical rookie in terms of age and experience," Steverson said, "but playing in the big leagues, which is the best stage on Earth, he proved he can do just fine."
His 36 homers set a new single-season rookie franchise record, beating out Ron Kittle's 35 from 1983. His slugging percentage led the Majors, as Abreu joined Dick Allen (1974) as the only players in White Sox history to accomplish that feat.
He ranked among AL leaders with his .964 OPS (second), 323 total bases (second) and 73 extra-base hits (fourth), as well as with his homers (tied for third), RBIs (fourth), average (fifth), OBP (fifth) and doubles (tied for 10th). Abreu became the first rookie in baseball history to rank among the top five in his league in each Triple Crown category, and he joined Hal Trosky (1934), Ted Williams (1939) and Albert Pujols (2001) as the only rookies to record at least 30 doubles, 30 homers and 100 RBIs in a season.
Those 107 RBIs represented the third-highest total all-time by a White Sox rookie, trailing Smead Jolley (114 in 1930) and Zeke Bonura (110 in 1934). Abreu topped all AL rookies in hits, doubles, homers, RBIs, OBP, slugging and OPS, falling second to Minnesota's Santana (.319) in rookie average.
Major League Baseball's A-listers won 2014 GIBBY trophies based on votes by broadcasters, reporters, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.
This year's GIBBY Awards feature winners in 25 categories. Individual honors went to the Most Valuable Major Leaguer, in addition to the year's best starting pitcher, everyday player, closer, setup man, rookie, breakout everyday player, breakout pitcher, bounceback player, defensive player, manager, executive and postseason MVP.
GIBBY trophies also were awarded for the year's top regular-season play, outfield throw, storyline, hitting performance, pitching performance, oddity, walk-off, Cut4 Topic, regular-season moment, postseason storyline, postseason walk-off and postseason play.
In the past several seasons, fans have cast millions of votes across the GIBBY categories, none of which is restricted to individual league affiliation. That's how you know the GIBBYs consider the best of the best.
All 30 clubs were represented among the award candidates, which is a testament to the competitive balance around the game.