The Reds battle the White Sox with the MLB Playoffs in sight

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23: Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds dives back to first base as Jose Abreu #76 of the Chicago White Sox attempts to apply the tag. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23: Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds dives back to first base as Jose Abreu #76 of the Chicago White Sox attempts to apply the tag. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /
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Tim Anderson #7 and Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox celebrate.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – AUGUST 18: Tim Anderson #7 and Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox celebrate. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

The South Side Hitmen have not one, but two MVP candidates.

First baseman Jose Abreu is having another monster season on Chicago’s South Side. Going into play yesterday, he leads the American League in hits, RBIs, total bases and is second in home runs. Producing a slash line of .327/.367/.629 with an eye-popping 167 OPS+, the 33-year-old Cuban is wreaking serious havoc on opponent’s pitching staffs.

These ridiculous offensive numbers are nothing new for Abreu. Since his rookie MLB season of 2014, the three-time All-Star has captured three Silver Slugger awards and a Rookie of the Year trophy for his mantlepiece.

Through his first six seasons, Abreu has hit at least 22 homers and drove in more than 100 runs five times, including an AL-best 123 last season. Jose Abreu is simply a one-man wrecking crew with the bat.

As frightening as Abreu’s numbers are, there’s a strong argument that he’s not even the biggest offensive threat on his own team. Shortstop Tim Anderson is a superstar in the making. The 27-year-old currently leads the American League with a .373 average and his 41 runs scored also tops the rankings. This is coming off a 2019 campaign in which Anderson won the AL batting crown with a .335 average.

Anderson’s slash line of .373/.410/.596 with a 1.006 OPS is going to give any opposing manager and pitching coach nightmares. Next, his impressive 172 OPS+ leads the White Sox and is good enough for fourth in the AL just ahead of teammate Jose Abreu. Reds backstops will need to be prepared when Anderson reaches base as well. Since his rookie season in 2016, he’s swiped 73 bases.

Voters for the American League MVP are going to have a tough decision to make this year. Tim Anderson currently leads the AL with a 2.4 fWAR while Abreu is fourth with a 2.2 fWAR. In between are a couple of Angels, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, who are members of a fourth-place team. Regardless of who captures the AL MVP, there’s no doubt in my mind it should be Abreu or Anderson.