Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Is Jose Abreu An Overpay Waiting To Happen? Don’t Be So Quick…

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

For much of the season Jose Abreu was viewed as a disappointment, though by year’s end the numbers were there (more or less):

624 At Bats
.293 Batting Average (183 Hits)
25 Home Runs
100 RBI
67 Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.353 On Base Percentage
.468 Slugging Percentage
.337 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Obviously it wasn’t quite what we expected, especially in the power department. Considering that the power has regressed each season since his MLB debut, it would be easy to label him as an overpay waiting to happen. It only takes one person to be looking at his numbers from his MLB debut, driving up the price.  Then again, maybe there’s reason to believe…

Overall his HR/FB has dropped each year:

  • 2014 – 26.9%
  • 2015 – 19.7%
  • 2016 – 14.8%

He rebounded significantly in the second half, posting an 18.4% HR/FB. That yielded 14 HR over 282 AB, or a home run about every 20 AB. In a full 600 AB that would put him on pace for 30 HR, the mark he posted in 2015. Obviously that’s promising, especially as he maintained his fly ball rate (33.3% in 2016, 32.2% for his career).

Assuming the power, there’s nothing not to like in the rest of his numbers. His .293 average is right on par with what we’d have expected, as he continued to hit the ball hard (21.3% line drive rate) and had a believable .327 BABIP. While his strikeout rate dropped (18.0%), his plate discipline still leaves a lot to be desired:

  • SwStr% – 11.5%
  • O-Swing% – 39.7%

That clearly would indicate a potential increase in his strikeouts, though the projected increase in his power would help to offset that. In other words, expecting a similar .290-.300 type average is fair.

We all know that he’s going to produce RBI, as he’s posted 100+ in each of his first three seasons. It was a surprise that he struggled to score runs, considering the average and power, and you can argue that it’s a factor of the lineup around him. Maybe he’s not going to be an elite runs scored option, but seeing him reach 75+ would be fair.

While first base is deep, our quick talk has him as .290/30/100/75. How many players with at least 100 PA at first base reached those levels? All of three (Miguel Cabrera, Freddie Freeman & Anthony Rizzo).

Sure it’s easy to be a bit discouraged, but that should mean an opportunity to buy. Consider him a player well worth targeting in all formats.

Source – Fangraphs

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