In his sixth year with the White Sox, first baseman Jose Abreu has started to reach milestones with his 1,000th hit and fifth 100-RBI season.
What milestones might be ahead? We can gaze into the crystal ball with a Bill James formula called “My Favorite Toy.”
With 103 RBI entering Monday, Abreu is the third Sox player to drive in at least 100 in five or more seasons. The leader is Frank Thomas with 10, followed by Paul Konerko with six. Minnie Minoso and Magglio Ordonez had four each.
And with 1,011 hits, Abreu is No. 27 in team history. In August, he became the 29th Sox player to reach 1,000, then passed Carlos May (1,000) and Jorge Orta (1,002).
His 591 RBI rank 14th on the Sox’ all-time list. What are the chances he could become the fourth to reach 1,000, after Thomas (1,465), Konerko (1,383) and Luke Appling (1,116)?
For that we can use “My Favorite Toy,” which estimates the number of seasons remaining in a player’s career by subtracting six-tenths of the player’s age from 24. Abreu is 32, and 0.6 times 32 is 19.2, leaving about five more seasons.
That doesn’t mean he couldn’t play longer or fade faster. It’s a best estimate based on how long other 32-year-olds have played.
Next, we need an established performance level — three times the total of the most recent season plus twice the previous season and once the season before that, all divided by six.
Using Abreu’s current RBI total as his most recent season sells him a little short since there’s a month to go in the season, but let’s try it that way and see where it leads. Multiply his 103 by three, his 78 last year by two and add his 102 of 2017 and you get 567. Divide that by six, and his established RBI level is 94.5 per season.
Multiply 94.5 by five theoretical remaining seasons, and that yields 472.5, which we round down to 472.
Normal decline is taken into account in the final part of the formula: Half the number needed to reach the goal is subtracted by the projected remaining total, and the result is divided by the number needed.
Abreu needs 409 to reach 1,000, so 204 is subtracted from the 472 projected for the rest of his career. That leaves 268, which, divided by the 409 needed, yields .655. Converted to percent, Abreu has about a 66 percent chance of reaching 1,000 career RBI.
Projecting 15 RBI for September and raising Abreu’s established performance level would raise his chance to reach 1,000 to 75 percent.
None of this should be taken as a prediction of Abreu’s totals. We’re dealing in probabilities. A 66 percent chance means roughly that if 100 players Abreu’s age had his accomplishments, 66 would go on to reach 1,000 RBI and 34 would miss.
The path to a milestone is never certain, but the missteps have been few for Abreu so far.