When the White Sox acquired Jose Abreu during the offseason, all we really knew was that he was an offensive beast in his native Cuba. What we didn't know was just how well his skills would translate to creating runs in the majors.
We knew that detailed analysis of his swing and his plate approach suggested that his chances of succeeding in the American League were more than favorable. What we didn't know was just how true that would be.
Abreu has commanded not only Chicago's attention, but also that of the rest of baseball. Even if you're a casual White Sox fan, you'd have to go out of your way to not be captivated by his accomplishments so far.
That attention is certainly warranted. Players like this don't come around often, and they're the guys that carry the sport. But because Abreu has had such a historic rookie season, it has been easy to overlook others on the roster, and one player in particular: Conor Gillaspie.
Given the fine starts by Abreu and Adam Eaton, it's natural that this would happen since Gillaspie had an underwhelming and inconsistent debut season with the White Sox in 2013. It's also easy to forget him because he's as unassuming as any Sox player that has been around in years. He's not much for interviews, and his game doesn't scream, "Hey, look at me!"
However, aside from Abreu, there has been a more consistent Sox hitter this season than Gillaspie. Not once has his batting average dipped below .300 this year. He's seventh in the AL in average and tied for 12th in doubles with 28. Gillaspie has the most doubles by a White Sox third baseman since Joe Crede hit 31 (Juan Uribe finished with 28) in 2006. He'll beat that mark and end up with one of the highest single-season totals in team history.
Gillaspie's on-base plus slugging percentage has been below .750 (considered about league average) on just two days all season, and he has spent most of the year above .800, where it is now.
On "White Sox Weekly" over the weekend, a listener suggested to me that Gillaspie was disappointing because he rarely came up with the big hit to drive in a crucial run. My reaction was that often times our perceptions don't line up with reality.
The numbers indicate that's true. Gillaspie hits .370 with men on base, and .321 with runners in scoring position. His low RBI total for the season is more a function of his lack of opportunities, not his lack of ability.
Defensively, Gillaspie could use some work, but it isn't out of the question that he will improve in this area. If he continues to contribute with regular offense, the Sox can afford to wait on that.
In an offseason that will undoubtedly be another busy one, it would be nice if the Sox had one less position to worry about. Gillaspie might just be their answer at third after all. They'd love to be able to focus their efforts on their greater issues, such as pitching.
In the meantime, it's appropriate Gillaspie gets recognition for the progress he has made this season.
• Chris Rongey is the host of the White Sox pregame and postgame shows on WSCR 670-AM The Score. Follow him on Twitter@ChrisRongey and at chrisrongey.com.