With all the hype surrounding the Chicago White Sox heading into the 2021 season, it is difficult to predict the culmination of what could be a phenomenal season. Coaching staff, divisional strength, pitching and positioning players are some of the most discussed topics in this discussion, but there is no doubt that the strength of the lineup is what it all comes down to.

Although pitching has come a long way – and there are even better arms this season – I think the story of this season will come directly from the struggles of the position players. The craziness surrounding Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada and Andrew Vaughn is exceptional. Yet the MVP of the American League, Jose Abreu, is somehow ignored. I have a few arguments for Abreu to return to the MVP discussion if he doesn’t win the award for a second consecutive season.

Photo: WhiteSox/Twitter

With a few signs that Andrew Vaughn has come in early, Abreu may be spending more time at the DH than in previous years. That would mean more swinging in the clubhouse for the bats and more time teaching the pitchers coming out of the paddock. The addition of Eaton and his OBP of .360, perhaps ahead of Abreu, would mean more RBI opportunities. Even if he takes a spot at the bottom of the ladder, Eaton could still be the best candidate to join Abreu’s base if the order changes. Don’t forget Nick Madrigal and his OBP .376, which also completes the White Sox list. Finally, after a one-year career, Abreu will be able to launch himself with full confidence on Opening Day.

Another big advantage for next season is not having to meet National League opponents outside the Central Division. The arms race in Southern California has brought coveted pitchers like Trevor Bauer, Blake Snell and Yu Darvish to the western part of the state. Sure, Abreu will have to face Shane Bieber and Gerrit Cole a few more times, maybe once or twice, but the launch in North Los Angeles this season has been a big step forward. Years of hitting against the same rotations will be huge for Abreu and for any hitter of his Plate Vision caliber.

There is no doubt that Mike Trout, Jose Ramirez and other star players in the American League will also have a strong case for the MVP title race. But Abreu’s 2020 year should not be dismissed just because the 60-game season has been shortened. The White Sox’ window is wide open, and several members of the organization have expressed their ambitions for the 2021 World Series. If they want to reach the elite level this year, Abreu will need to be a big game producer and a great clutch hitter. He demonstrated those skills last season when he helped the White Sox to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. The young talent emerging among star producers could be a sexy story for 2021, but Jose Abreu is clearly still the White Sox leader.

Who said no to another MVPito candidate? I think Abreu has the potential to repeat history, just like big names like Ernie Banks, Barry Bonds and Frank Thomas. Do you think he can get a repeat, or is there another White Sox participant on your MVP radar this year? Let me know on Twitter @DaGerbs.

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