How quickly can one man go from free agent afterthought to franchise cornerstone? One season, apparently. At least that was the case for Bobby Abreu who earns the honor of kicking off our player previews for the 2010 season. So what is in store for the man who breathed life into the Angel offense as he hopes to battle old age and help the Angels find their way back to the promised land?
2009 Stats: 563 AB, .293 AVG, 96 R, 15 HR, 103 RBI, 30 SB, .825 OPS
2010 Bill James Projections: 606 AB, .285 AVG, 103 R, 18 HR, 101 RBI, 25 SB, .833 OPS
2010 Chone Projections: 542 AB, .273 AVG, 90 R, 14 HR, 88 RBI, 19 SB, .783 OPS
2010 Marcel Projections: 523 AB,. .279 AVG, 87 R, 15 HR, 85 RBI, 21 SB, .799 OPS
2010 Monkey Projections*: 425 AB, .290 AVG, 80 R, 10 HR, 70 RBI, 10 SB, .790 OPS
*All stats courtesy of FanGraphs.com except the Monkey Projections which are strictly based on my own knowledge, logic and intuition.
2009 Review: Bobby Abreu might go down as the single greatest move of Tony Reagins’ career as a general manager and it was pretty much an accident that it even happened. Scorned in their attempts to re-sign Mark Teixeira, the Angels were desperate to find a quality bat to add to the line-up, so Reagins settled on Bobby Abreu as their consolation prize, inking him to a one-year “prove it” deal just days before the start of Spring Training. Prove it, Bobby most certainly did. What Abreu brought to the Angel offense wasn’t just a steady, professional bat but a whole new hitting philosophy for a team that had previously been allergic to taking a pitch. Many of the young and impressionable Halo hitters took quickly to Abreu’s mentorship and adjusted their hitting plan to one of aggressive patience. Instead of swinging at every pitch remotely close to the strike zone, the Angels learned to wait for their pitch to hit. The new philosophy led to both an increase in walks from the team but also an increase in batting average as the Angel hitters finally stopped getting themselves out under the guise of trying to “attack the defense.” After seeing what Abreu did for the team, the front office acted quickly to make sure stuck around to continue guiding the Angel offense into a new decade by re-signing him to a two-year deal this summer.
3 Questions for 2010:
- Can Abreu’s aging body hold up to another year of playing in the field everyday? Abreu will be 36 on Opening Day and by all reports is in great shape, but old is old and sooner or later his age is going to catch up with him. He showed some real signs of wear and tear in the second half of last season (see his August OPS of .655 as an example) and could probably have benefited from moving to DH this season but that definitely won’t be happening now that Hideki Matsui is in place. Bobby has played 151 or more games in every season since 1998, so he is certainly durable, but that doesn’t mean he is invincible.
- Where did Bobby’s power go? Last season Bobby Abreu’s power seemed to dry up almost entirely as he finished the season with just 29 doubles, 15 home runs and an ISO of .142, easily the lowest ISO of his 12 full professional seasons. Abreu hit just one homer in his first two months as an Angel, but he did finish on an uptick to close the season by posting ISOs of .170 or higher in three of the final four months, much more in line with his typical production. So which Abreu will the Angels get in 2010?
- Can the Angels live with Abreu’s poor fielding for another year? As good as Abreu is at the plate, he is just as bad in the field and rated out as one of the worst fielding everyday players in all of baseball. For a team that prides itself so much on playing tight defense, Abreu is a veritable disaster in the field. At this point in his career, Abreu’s best defensive trait is that he doesn’t (usually) screw up routine plays… and that is about it. Abreu did win a Gold Glove a long time ago, but he is far removed from being able to field like that (I think my infant daughter who can’t even crawl yet has more range than Abreu at this point) and one can’t help but wonder if a further decline in his physical abilities will make the Angels regret not moving him to DH when they had the chance.
2010 Preview: As you saw in my personal projections for Abreu, I am definitely concerned about his ability to stay healthy. I know he has a great track record of durability, but I just have a hunch that he is going to suffer some kind of nagging injury (more back problems?) that will limit his abilities before ultimately forcing him to make a trip to the disabled list. What the Angels will ultimately get from Abreu is a guy who can still work a count and make contact, but just doesn’t have the torque left to really drive the ball and will consider himself too brittle to risk a lot of steal attempts. That may sound like a pretty bad scenario for Abreu, but as we saw in 2009, Abreu’s true value to the team isn’t wrapped up entirely in his own production but rather the tone he sets for the rest of the team as the unofficial hitting coach. Since he will (hopefully) be hitting second in the order most of the season, the Angels won’t miss his already declining power too much and his ability to consistently get on base will cancel out his timidity on the basepaths. By the end of the season, Angel fans will be glad Abreu was re-signed but even more glad that it was only to a two-year contract.