No. 1: Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
Aug 15, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu (79) hits a two RBI single against the Toronto Blue Jays during the fifth inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Jose Abreu dethroned Cabrera as king of the AL Central on his way to earning the AL Rookie of the Year in 2014.
At 27 years old, Abreu led AL first basemen in a number of offensive categories, including average (.317), slugging percentage (.581) and homeruns (36). He was effective against both lefties (.353) and righties (.305) and played consistent baseball even as the season progressed.
In fact, the 250-pound Cuban may have even gotten better in the second half.
Despite a huge dip in power numbers, he hit .350 post-All-Star break and performed well against both Detroit and Cleveland, who are expected to be the teams to beat in the division this season.
While he may be due for a sophomore slump in 2015, he has shown no signs of letting up. Chicago added Melky Cabrera this offseason who, along with Alexei Ramirez, should create even more opportunities for Abreu to drive in runs in the middle of the lineup. The addition of Adam LaRoche provides him with the necessary protection to avoid falling into a rut.
He and Miguel Cabrera are both far and away ahead of everyone else on this list but, for his flawless performance in 2014, Abreu gets the edge in preseason grades.