'A very special moment for me:' Sox's Abreu wins American League MVP
While the White Sox moved into the playoffs with a lineup built around young talent, 33-year-old Jose Abreu stood above everyone and was named American League MVP on Thursday.
Abreu beat out Cleveland's Jose Ramirez and Yankees infielder D.J. LeMahieu. Abreu received 21 first-place votes and Ramirez had eight. Cleveland pitcher Shane Bieber finished fourth and Angels slugger Mike Trout was fifth. Former MVP Josh Donaldson made the announcement on MLB Network. Atlanta's Freddie Freeman was NL MVP.
White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson finished seventh, while pitcher Dallas Keuchel received one 10th-place vote.
Abreu is the fourth White Sox player to win MVP, joining Frank Thomas (1993 and '94), Dick Allen ('72) and Nellie Fox ('59).
He's the third Cuban-born player to win MVP, joining Oakland's Jose Canseco (1988) and Minnesota's Zoilo Versalles (1965).
When Abreu heard his name via Zoom call, he put his head on the table while several friends and family celebrated in the background.
"I was super excited to share that moment with my family, with the people that I love," Abreu said later on a conference call with reporters, with the help of translator Billy Russo. "And I'm grateful to be honored with this award. I think you have to enjoy what life gives you and that was a very special moment for me. To be able to share that moment with my family was very, very special and emotional for me."
When the MLB Network hosts asked who was in the room with him, Abreu turned and pointed to a picture of his grandmother. "She was my life," he said through tears.
Abreu also thanked the White Sox and all the Cuban players who came before him and paved the way.
Abreu defected from Cuba in 2013, riding in a crowded boat on a 12-hour journey to Haiti. A few weeks later, he took part in a showcase for major league teams in the Dominican Republic. The White Sox won the bidding with a six-year, $68-million offer.
"My mom always taught me to have respect for everybody and keep things simple," Abreu said. "For me, this year was about that -- take control of the things I could control and do the things I know that I can do."
Abreu hit .317 this season with 19 home runs and 60 RBI. He led the American League in RBI, hits (76), total bases (148) and slugging percentage (. 617).
His season highlight was hitting 6 home runs during a three-game series at Wrigley Field on Aug. 21-23. He also had a 7 RBI game against Detroit on Sept. 12.
Abreu was asked about the White Sox decision to fire manager Ricky Renteria in favor of longtime MLB manager Tony LaRussa.
"I cannot question if Tony is the right person for this team or not. That is not my call," Abreu said. "I can't say one thing or another just because people want me to say something. What I can say is Ricky was a great manager, he was a great person, he helped me a lot. I was honored to be part of a team he managed.
"At the same time, I'm really excited to have the chance to play for a manager like Tony LaRussa. I think we have to wait and see how this goes. I can't really say much about it, but I'm excited to have a manager with a history like Tony has."