By Tommy Rancel
Despite playing most of his career in major media markets (Philadelphia, New York, and Los Angeles), Bobby Abreu remains one of baseball’s most underrated players.
Since 2001, Abreu has averaged .295/.400/.485 (AVG/OBP/SLG), 21 home
runs, 102 RBIs, 106 runs scored and 30 steals. In eight of those nine
seasons – including 2009 – he topped 100 RBI.
Last season Abreu took his bat west to Los Angeles. The change
in time zone didn’t change his production much. In his first season for the
Angels he hit .285/.390/.435 with 15 home runs and 103 RBI. He also scored 96 times and swiped 30 bases.
Abreu’s all-inclusive skill set has avoided most signs of
decline. Though he’s not the fastest runner in the game, he still
racks up plenty of steals. His
career 22.8% line drive rate (LD%) keeps his batting average
consistently above .280. His trained batting eye – shown by a 14.9%
walk rate – allows his on-base percentage to hover around .400. The
only element that’s held him back from true superstar status is his
Still, Abreu does carry some concerns heading into 2010.
First, he turned 36 this week. For most players, this would be a
flag. But Abreu profiles differently than most aging players, with a
high-contact swing and good speed to go with walks and gap power. On the other hand, that power appears to be waning: Abreu’s 15 homers and .142
isolated slugging (slugging percentage minus batting average) were both
his lowest figures for any full season.
Over the past three seasons, Abreu’s batting average on balls in
play (BABIP) is .338. This would be high for a normal player with a
league average near .300 BABIP. For Abreu, a .338 BABIP is nearly 10
points lower than his .347 career mark. The high BABIP is a product of
his career 22.8% line drive percentage. Even if he regresses further toward .300, his
batting average will likely remain playable.
Many will point to the departures of Chone Figgins and Vladimir Guerrero as additional causes for concerned. Guerrero was already on the downswing of this career, and he’ll be replaced by Hideki Matsui at
designated hitter; Matsui’s 2009 OPS of
.876 was 82 points higher than Guerrero’s .794. But Figgins’ 100-walk,
.400 OBP ability will be nearly impossible to replace. The Angels will
hope to do it by committee, relying more on
younger players like Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, and Brandon Wood. Those three players, along with Mike Napoli, Juan Rivera, Torii Hunter and 2009 breakout Kendry Morales, should continue to offer the kind of support that leads to solid counting stats.
B-Rank loves Bobby Abreu with a ranking of 30; however, his
average draft position is a low 100.2. Even if you move Abreu’s value
down a bit to account for age and Figgins’ departure, you’re still
looking at big value potential around the seventh round in 12-team
mixed leagues or the eighth round in 10-team mixed leagues.
Looking at players with similar production to Abreu last year, Nick Markakis
is a pretty close comparison. In 2009, Markakis hit .293/.347/.453 with
18 home runs, 101 RBI and 94 runs scored. Markakis wins the slugging
battle .453 to .435, but Abreu was on base at a much higher clip (.390
to .347). The big difference came in steals: Mid-30s Abreu stole 30 bases, compared to mid-20s Markakis’ total of just
Markakis places 59th in B-Rank with an ADP of 54.2. While it’s
usually a good idea to discount older players and bump up players
entering their physical prime, Abreu still projects to produce similar,
or possibly better numbers than Markakis in 2010 – yet he’s being
drafted 46 spots behind his Orioles counterpart.
As long as there are no major health concerns with an older player,
that’s often a great place to find value in your draft. Abreu’s career
low in games played since his first season as a regular is 151; he’s
been a model of durability for the past 12 years. If he falls in your
draft, pick him up.
For more on Bobby Abreu, and hundreds of other players, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits.