When preparing for a new season, fantasy baseball enthusiasts are always wanting to know who is going to be the next big breakout player. Drafting or picking up a player on waivers for his breakout season gives fantasy owners a feeling of superiority, a feeling of omniscience in some sense. Whether that feeling is justified or not is another question. But even if your team comes in last place, you can take ownership that you “knew” Jose Bautista would bust out for 54 HR, or that your hunch that R.A. Dickey would knuckle his way into a Cy Young Award panned out. So at The Backwards K, there is a series of posts titled “This Year’s…” where I will tell you who I think this year’s version of a 2014 breakout player will be, providing some background and analysis.Embed from Getty Images
Around the internet I have seen White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu referred to as “El Dolor Grande,” which is the Spanish translation of “The Big Hurt.” For those who don’t know, The Big Hurt is the moniker that long-time White Sox broadcast announcer and the most hometown biased announcer ever, Hawk Harrelson, gave to one of the premiere sluggers of the 90’s, Frank Thomas. Although Abreu’s plate discipline skills pale in comparison to Thomas’ (though any player’s would), Abreu certainly causes pain to many baseballs, so El Dolor Grande is a fitting nickname. But if Thomas is The Big Hurt and Abreu is El Dolor Grande, how come Paul Konerko never got a badass nickname? All he got was “Paulie” as if he was a talking bird or one of the worst “comedians” of the 90’s.
Abreu had established himself as one of the top hitters in Cuba and he was able to defect from his motherland and he signed a 6-year/$68 million contract with the White Sox in August of 2013. That type of commitment in years and dollars to a player that had never seen a pitch in the Majors was very interesting, but clearly the Sox were heavily intrigued. There was no doubting that he had massive power potential, but there were questions if he could handle Major League pitching. Well, I don’t think there are any more doubts about that as Abreu had one of the best seasons of any hitter last year as he took home the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Overall, Abreu hit .317 with 36 HR, 107 RBI, 80 R, and 3 SB.