Not that Jeff Keppinger was some great, irresistible force, but his release further revealed the White Sox are focused more about securing their future than winning every single game possible. With the management of Chris Sale, with Adam Eaton's placement on the DL, and with the way they termed the announcement Avisail Garcia's surgery, they have at least consistently spoken clearly about trying not to take on unnecessary risk this season. It's for the best, really.
But c'mon, a game with no Jose Abreu?
It's a reasonable request since his bum ankle is a problem that dates as far back as two months ago, and with it, he looks like that super-unathletic, one-dimensional masher we were all warned about. After he cranked his three-run homer in Oakland Wednesday, it looked like Abreu took about 0.8 seconds to revel in his accomplishment, and then set his mind to the grim work to dragging his body around the bases. He should probably take a day.
It doesn't help that without Adam Eaton or Avisial Garcia, and Marcus Semien being kind of a strikeout machine, that it's boiled down to just Abreu as the new shiny toy on offense to watch. By weighted-runs created, Abreu is personally responsible for creating 31 out of the White Sox' 192 weighted-runs generated by pure offense*, or a 16.1% contribution from one guy in the batting order.
It's really not a remarkable percentage for the best hitter on a offense. Abreu is among the league-leaders in offense generated, but so are the Sox, while someone like Giancarlo Stanton is more of one-man band, and Troy Tulowitski is just not of this Earth. But consider that last year's leader in this category for the Sox was Alejandro De Aza, and he was only able to grab 13.1% of a very small supply. Someone this singularly dominant and responsible for the offense hasn't been a feature since Paul Konerko's last wave of dominance.
As a needlessly sad footnote: Keppinger generated 32 wRC last season. Tyler Flowers produced 20.
Privately, since I would never actually express concern with Abreu's performance, but uh, things have gotten rather distended recently. He's got 48 strikeouts to 10 walks, or 26.5% and 5.5% rates for each. Previously on a podcast, or a roundtable, or something else where I was talking to the staff, I mentioned where Abreu's power production was so intense that he could do nothing else well at the plate and still be an asset.
We're pretty much at that point. Abreu has been a remoreseless hacker, swung-and-missed at Tyler Flowers' rates, but still manages to keep up a good batting average and a perfectly average on-base rate because so much of his contact just goes right over the wall. If there's anyone I've ever seen play baseball that could keep up a ~.350 ISO power rate, it's this man, but since other commonly-cited 80-grade in-game power guys like Prince Fielder (in his day) and Adam Dunn (ditto) have never pulled it off, it's a tenuous thing to rely on.
Abreu is clearly a freak, but early on his success is predicated on being an outlier. If he stays one of the top-10 best hitters in the league, he'll be carving a unique path. Which is either exhilarating or terrifying, or both.
So rest his ankles, I suppose. Houston is terrible anyway.