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2014 Fantasy Baseball Player Profile: Jose Abreu

Everyone is interested in newcomer Jose Abreu. What does he have to offer and is The Oracle a fan?

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People hate the known – they love the unknown. Think of it this way. Your television works just fine, right? But it's six years old and you feel that the new fangled TV's that are out there now are better in terms of color, movement resolution, energy conversation and they are much thinner and lighter if you want to hang it on the wall. This is a scenario we've all contemplated, right? Do you go with the new version that is “better” or just stick with your current setup which works totally fine? Let's take that line of thought to the world of baseball. Do you want Kendrys Morales, Nick Swisher or Ryan Howard on your squad, guys that are all somewhat boring but stable and well known, or do you have you sights set on Jose Abreu, the new guy on the block (Abreu signed a 6-year, $68 million deal with the White Sox)? Before I answer which way I'm leaning, though if you read the intro closely you likely already know, let's take a look at what Jose Abreu actually brings to the field.


Here is part of what Baseball Prospectus had to say about Abreu in their 2014 Guide. “... some believe his video game statistics where produced by feasting on bottom tiers of Cuban pitching and mask a swing that cam be tamed by well paced fastballs on the inner half.”

Here is part of what Baseball HQ had to say about Abreu in the Minor League Baseball Analyst. “... exceptional raw power to all fields... Has shown moderate bat speed... There are concerns about his bat speed and ability to handle quality fastballs, especially on the inside half.”

At Fangraphs, Dan Farnsworth broke down Abreu's swing (there are a plenty of shots of his swing there for you to see as well). Dan seems more more enamored with Abreu than the first two sources I noted (the other two sources have more “street cred” but I thought it would be instructive to give folks a look a Abreu since most haven't ever seen him even take a swing).

Here are some interesting tidbits from an ESPN article (interestingly, I've been comparing Abreu to Morales in terms of what I would be expecting for his output in 2014, and the ESPN article directly compares the two players).

"He has monstrous power," said a scout.

Multiple scouts used the term "slider-speed bat" in reference to Abreu.

"If you throw him 90-92 [mph] inside, he gets beat a lot," said a scout for a National League club. “His swing is thick and sort of stiff. His front arm gets kind of rigid, and it's more a strength swing than a real quick bat. But he's a smart hitter...”

"Hitting-wise, he reminds me a lot of Dayan Viciedo," said a scout. "He's just not as athletic. This guy has more power than Kendrys Morales. But Morales is a better hitter for me."

"Pedro Alvarez-type power with more hit-ability and the same body type, too," said another scout.

"He's a little bit of a dead-body guy," said a scout. Abreu is 27 years old and he is about 6'2” and weighs around 255 lbs. That's not exactly a body type that you really want to see on a baseball field. Reports do suggest that he's working on his fitness level diligently.

Finally, our very own Jeff Mans said, off the cuff when I asked him if people in Chicago were pumped about Abreu. "They love Paul Konerko and hate Fidel Castro.” That Jeff is such a character (for his actual thoughts on Abreu you can click on the link to Jeff's article on on the big fella).

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My takeaway from those sources, as well as others that I've seen, is that there is significant doubt as to whether or not Abreu will be an elite hitter in the big leagues. When a guy can't turn on an inside fastball he can be a strong doubles hitter, but you have to be able to get to the inside half if you want to be a big power bat. Of course some fellas are better when they get their arms extended, but the truly great hitters are able to handle both inside and outside stuff. That puts Abreu's ability to be an impact bat in 2014, at least in my mind, as somewhat questionable. That is not to say he's going to be Mark Reynolds, but let's keep some perspective here. Let's look a bit at the numbers before I share my final thoughts.

Abreu hit .360 with three homers and nine RBIs in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. For the regular season, that he spent playing Cuba, he hit .382 with 13 homers an a 1.270 OPS over 42 games. He was even better in 2011-12  when he destroyed hurlers at will swatting 35 homers with a 1.379 OPS in 71 games. Remember the mention of video game numbers above? Now you see why. The numbers say elite talent. However, the level of competition was far from elite. It's not that he didn't face elite talent it's just that he didn't always face elite arms. Chances are he will see at least one, if not more, elite talent in every big league game this season.

What am I recommending you do with Abreu (and I'm The Oracle if you didn't know)? Just like I said at the start of this piece, I'd be reluctant to go all. In fact, anyone that goes that route is making a mistake. Can you draft Abreu as a top-5 first baseman? Hell no. Could you take him in the top-10? In my opinion this would still be a significant mistake. Top-15? Now we're in the realm that we can start to consider his name (where do I have him ranked for 2014? Make sure you pick up the Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide which has more than 600 players ranked, at all positions). Given that the potential outcome for Abreu could be anywhere from Swisher to Morales to Howard to Mark Teixeira to Corey Hart or Mark Trumbo, there are simply a lot of other options that I would feel more comfortable with drafting (especially if Abreu ends up being substantially more expensive than the list of names I just noted). Ideally you would roster Abreu as your corner infield option in mixed leagues. At that level you are likely to at least be pleased with his production while leaving yourself enough room to really enjoy his effort if it proves to be impressive.

By Ray Flowers


  • 64x64

    flowers 07 Mar 14:13 / Reply

    G28 - I think I answered the question about the worth of Abreu with this piece, didn't I? There is also the Draft Guide that includes all the players ranked if you're looking for a side by side comparison.

  • 64x64

    Brian H 28 Feb 23:25 / Reply

    We're not selling jeans here

  • 64x64

    G 28 Feb 21:41 / Reply

    Hey Ray- thanks for this capsule, love your work. One thing I take issue with is your lead, asking if you want the old (Swish, Morales, Howard) or the new in Abreu. The "old" 3 are going nowhere near the new shiny toy (draft slot or auction value). The question we want the answer to, is will he be worth his salt or will the late round guy like Swish be a better bet, both from a bang for your buck perspective or in terms of absolute production.

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