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Closer look at Sox’ Jose Abreu, near-misses to elite club he joined

Much has been made about the elite company White Sox slugger Jose Abreu is keeping in becoming the third player with at least 25 home runs and 100 RBI in each of his first four seasons.

The others, you’ve no doubt heard, are Yankees great Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols, now with the Angels as he wraps up a Hall of Fame-bound career.

But what about the near-misses? Who woulda, coulda, shoulda been on this list with a little luck or a few more plate appearances?

There are 10 players who were in that 25/100 club in three of their first four seasons. Here’s how they break down:

White Sox slugger Jose Abreu drives in his 100th RBI against the Kansas City Royals during the seventh inning on Sept. 23, 2017.
| David Banks/Getty Images

• RBI qualifiers who missed in home runs: Ted Williams stands alone here. In 1940, his second season with the Red Sox, Teddy Ballgame hit .344, led the American League with a .442 on-base percentage and had a 1.036 OPS and 113 RBI. It was a fantastic season, but he hit only 23 homers.

• Home-run qualifiers who fell short in RBI: Rookies often take awhile to take middle-of-the-order spots to maximize RBI opportunities.

Mark Teixeira homered 26 times as a rookie with the Rangers in 2003, but he often hit sixth or seventh in an 84-RBI season. Eddie Mathews was more extreme, with 25 homers but only 52 RBI while often hitting sixth or seventh for a low-scoring Boston Braves team.

The Brewers’ Ryan Braun slugged 34 homers in 2007, but he fell short with 97 RBI. He wasn’t called to the majors
until late May.

• The short seasons: The other six players with three qualifying seasons in their first four had even less playing time as rookies than Braun.

In descending order of playing time, they were Johnny Mize (469 plate appearances, 19 homers, 93 RBI); Miguel Cabrera (346, 12, 62); David Wright (283, 14, 40); Chuck Klein (275, 11, 34); Jose Canseco (100, five, 13); and Hal Trosky (47, one, eight).

All were in the majors by age 23, with Williams, Trosky, Mathews, Canseco and Cabrera up at 20 (as was DiMaggio on the 4-for-4 list). That’s a point of difference from Abreu, who was a 27-year-old rookie immediately after departing Cuba.

The list of players with 27 homers and 100 RBI from ages 27 to 30 isn’t as exclusive. There are 25 players, including Abreu. Pujols is there with four different seasons than on the first-four list.

Included are ex-Cubs Hack Wilson and Sammy Sosa and White Sox great Frank Thomas. Albert Belle makes the list with three seasons with the Indians and one with the Sox. Former Sox Adam Dunn makes it with four seasons with the Reds.

Two from the three-of-the-first-four list are here, too: Teixeira and Williams.

The other 16 are Cabrera, Carlos Delgado, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Jason Giambi, Ken Griffey Jr., Gil Hodges, Ryan Howard, Chipper Jones, Tino Martinez, Stan Musial, David Ortiz, Mike Piazza, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Tejada.

They’re not all DiMaggio and Pujols, but it’s a terrific mix that puts Abreu in outstanding company on either list.

Follow me on Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

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