In 2014, Jose Abreu made his way to the White Sox from Cuba and immediately tore apart the AL. He was a great fantasy baseball commodity, earning $28 and $26 in his first two years in the league. That means he brought you power and average, in spades. In his first two seasons, Abreu averaged 104 RBI, 84 runs scored and 33 home runs. Last season, he earned only $14 in fantasy baseball production. What happened, and can he bounce back from that?
average statistics had an increase from 2015, as he had a slightly higher average driven by significantly fewer strikeouts and a dramatic increase in walks (and his BABIP went down, which should signify a decrease in batting average, not an increase). The biggest dip in Abreu’s production last season was his power. His ISO dropped precipitously, going .264 in 2014, to .212 in 2015, to .175 in 2016.
Line drive rate and hard hit rate usually explain the ISO change, but Abreu’s 2016 was line with his career. Abreu hit the ball as hard as he did in previous seasons, and was among the league leaders in fly ball distance. Last year’s average distance (315.83) was up over ten feet from his 2014 campaign (305.45). Abreu was hitting the ball as hard and was even hitting the ball further, but his home runs decreased.
So, bad luck was the driver behind Abreu’s terrible 2016 fantasy baseball campaign. Even with a messy offense around him, Abreu still got to 100 RBI (on the nose) last year. His runs scored dipped, but that is to be expected with a terrible offense around him. Abreu also ended 2016 on an uptick, seemingly shaking off his terrible bad luck that plagued him most of 2016. He floundered in the first half, posting a .272/.326/.430 slash line in the first half and a .319/.384/.514 slash line in the second half.
Abreu is currently going outside the top ten at the position per FantasyPros ADP, at #61 overall. Stripping out multi-position players like Buster Posey, Kris Bryant, and Daniel Murphy, Abreu is the #8 overall first baseman going off the board and is virtually a shoo-in to leap frog at least Freddie Freeman and Wil Myers. If Encarnacion or Miguel Cabrera finally give in to Father Time, then Abreu can be a top-five first baseman when all is said and done. He’s worth his draft slot and should exceed his value.