CHICAGO -- On the night Jose Abreu clobbered his 24th and 25th home runs of the season, White Sox manager Robin Ventura marveled at how the ball comes off Abreu's bat.
"When he hits it on the barrel, it just continues to go," Ventura said. "It's like helium balls that just continue to float."
Three months into the season, that swing has done nearly as much damage as any in baseball.
Abreu, the 27-year-old first baseman from Cuba, was named American League Rookie of the Month for the second time in three career months in June. He charges into the season's second half as one of the major league leaders with 27 home runs and 69 RBIs through Friday.
His plate appearances have become can't-miss attractions as he bids to break Mark McGwire's major league rookie record of 49 home runs.
"The good ones make it look easy," Sox radio broadcaster Ed Farmer said. "The great ones don't give you a chance to go to the concession stand. That's what he does because if he's coming up, you're not going to get a hot dog."
How exactly Abreu has found so much success in such a short period is a question that draws many answers.
"From a hitter's standpoint, it's how you would draw it up, how you would want a hitter to be," Sox third-base coach Joe McEwing said. "He's balanced, he's in his legs and he sustains that throughout his swing. He swings inside through the baseball and he creates backspin. He's a special talent."
Farmer rattled off a long list of things he believes Abreu does well: He is quick to the ball, makes adjustments, is well-balanced, has strong hands and shows an aptitude to learn quickly.
It's the ability to make in-game adjustments in his first year that really impresses Farmer and his partner in the radio booth, Darrin Jackson.
"He's as smart as anybody I've seen hit," Jackson said. "That's the ultimate compliment. He does it within the game and he does it in some at-bats. He just doesn't know the pitchers well enough where he can do it in every at-bat."
Assistant hitting coach Harold Baines said he is struck by Abreu's "religiously" working to stay inside the ball.
"What that means is trying to hit the inner half of the baseball and driving," Baines said. "Rarely he comes around to get to the baseball. His main theory is the ball is in the way and he needs to swing inside the baseball.
"Nobody's perfect, but he's the best I've seen in a long while that can do that, and he's only been here a couple of months."
The natural inclination when a new player emerges is to compare him to players who came before him. Abreu reminds Farmer of 1970s Sox player Dick Allen. Baines and Jackson both pointed to former Mariner Edgar Martinez, but with more power, Baines said. Jackson added Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera to the mix.
Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham, however, took a different approach.
"I wouldn't compare him to anybody," Beckham said. "I would start comparing other people to him because I think he's going to be that next guy who's going to play here for a while and be very good. People are going to be like, 'Well, he kind of reminds me of Jose Abreu.' ... I know there are a lot of good players out there, but he's awesome."
Beckham said Abreu's production, while perhaps an initial surprise, is no longer one to his teammates. He called Abreu's swing "simple."
"He doesn't have a lot of movement in his swing," Beckham said. "It's more (of) a simple load-and-fire. It's very effective. It's very compact. It's efficient."
Angels slugger Albert Pujols watched Abreu hit an opposite-field home run off Garrett Richards on Tuesday.
"He has a really nice, short and compact swing," Pujols said. "Obviously he's strong enough to use the whole entire field. Look at his home run (Tuesday). There's not too many guys who can hit a ball out of the ballpark like that to right field."
Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson said that ability to hit to all fields is one aspect of Abreu's game that has stood out the most to him.
"Most power hitters are pretty much singular--it's either center field or left field if you're a right-hander," Steverson said. "We've seen him take balls out to right field (and) right-center, so that says he gets into a good position consistently enough that when they make the mistake out over the plate, he can drive the ball out to all parts of the ballpark."
Abreu wasn't much up for breaking down his swing publicly, but he did point to one key aspect of his preparation.
"The only thing I do is my mind is clear," he said through a team interpreter. "I try to watch videos here and I look at the pitchers a lot. I try to concentrate on that. I stay locked in on that and try to stay away from everything else."
Tribune reporter Blake Schuster contributed to this report.
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