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Benetti: More ahead for White Sox star Jose Abreu after joining MLB elite

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  • Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu (79) celebrates his home run off Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Parker Bridwell with Nicky Delmonico during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Chicago.

    Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu (79) celebrates his home run off Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Parker Bridwell with Nicky Delmonico during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Chicago.

 
By Jason Benetti
Special to the Daily Herald

Nov. 25, 1914. Martinez, California.

Jan. 16, 1980. Santo Dom-Ingo, Dominican Republic.

Jan. 29, 1987. Cienfuegos, Cuba.

These are the birth dates and birthplaces of the three men in Major League Baseball who've hit at least 25 home runs and driven in 100 runs in their first four seasons.

Joe DiMaggio.

Albert Pujols.

Jose Abreu.

Three players from three nations connected forever by their entry into baseball's great stage.

According to baseball-reference.com, 18,852 players have taken the field in a major-league game since 1876. Three have gotten to 25-plus home runs and 100-plus RBI in their first four seasons. That's .016 percent of players.

DiMaggio and Pujols were 21 when they made it to the majors. Abreu was 27, after a successful pro career in Cuba.

All three were all-stars in their first season. Pujols and Abreu were Rookies of the Year; the award hadn't been created in 1936 when DiMaggio broke in.

DiMaggio finished with 361 homers and 1,537 RBI, but he spent three of his prime years in military service. Pujols had 614 homers and 1,915 RBI through this past weekend. Abreu's career has some sand remaining in the hourglass.

DiMaggio's first homer came in New York on May 10, 1936, against George Turbeville, who played three seasons, all with the Philadelphia Athletics, a team that didn't exist in its then state when Pujols and Abreu made it. Turbeville died when Pujols was age 3 and that was four years before Abreu was born.

Pujols hit his first home run April 6, 2001, in Arizona off Armando Reynoso, who played only one more partial season in 2002.

Abreu's first homer came in Colorado on April 8, 2014, against Chad Bettis, who hasn't switched teams since and is still in the league.

Abreu, unlike DiMaggio and Pujols, hit his second home run on the same day, an inning later. That homer came off Wilton Lopez.

DiMaggio was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1955 and has a career slugging percentage of .579 (ninth ever) an OPS of .977 (11th) and was elected to 13 all-star teams.

Pujols is currently 15th in slugging at .562, 20th in OPS at .949 and seventh in home runs at .614 (as of this writing). He has been to 10 All-Star Games and is a surefire Hall of Famer.

Abreu is slugging at .523 and has an .882 OPS in just his fourth season. Where will he end up?

Pujols won the MVP in his fifth season, DiMaggio in his sixth. DiMaggio played 13 years (with three years interruption due to his military duties); Pujols is in his 17th season.

Yes, Jose Abreu started six years deeper into his life than DiMaggio and Pujols. But, if their successes are any indication, Abreu's bat has a boatful of fun moments left in it.

• Jason Benetti is a play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago White Sox, as well as ESPN. Follow him on Twitter @jasonbenetti.

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