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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL POSTSCRIPT: JOSE ABREU 1B CHICAGO WHITE SOX

For the first time in five MLB seasons since coming over from Cuba, Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu went down as a fantasy baseball disappointment.  Having established himself the previous four years as one of the most consistent players in the game, Abreu saw his offensive numbers fall across the board as a barren White Sox lineup lent little support and health woes that cropped up during the second half of the season furthered the trouble.  In the end what we got out of Abreu were just 22 home runs, 78 RBI, and a .265 average which all went down as career-low totals for the slugger.  While those numbers fell short of what was anticipated, some perspective is needed here on a number of key fronts as we look toward his potential impact for the upcoming fantasy baseball season.  For one thing, Abreu will still be just 32 when the 2019 season gets underway which still represents prime years for a power-driven player.  In addition, Abreu’s advanced metrics show a hitter who is still the same guy he has always been since making his debut in 2014 when he slammed 36 home runs, collected 107 RBI, and batted .307.  Both Abreu’s BB/9 (6.7) and K/9 (19.7) rates were in the middle range of his historical performances in those categories and one of the main reasons the batting average fell to .265 last season (after previously never going under .290) was due to the fact his .294 BABIP was a major outlier compared to those career norms.  Digging into that crucial last point a bit more, Abreu’s BABIP during his first four years in the majors ranged from .327 and .356 which right there tells you last season’s .294 was a primary cause for the batting average tumble.  Taking this a step further, if you were to throw out the highest and lowest BABIP’s of Abreu’s five-year career (see you later .294 and .356), the remaining three marks would be .333, .327, and .330 which are almost clones of one other.  So it stands to reason that Abreu’s typical BABIP is around .330 which is a sizable leap from the .294 of a year ago and this also means a batting average uptick in 2019 to around .290 is likely.  What will also help the average and the rest of Abreu’s counting numbers would be good health and that was not part of the equation for the first time in his career last season as well.  Having previously never had a season without at least 622 at-bats, Abreu’s paltry 553 total in 2018 compared to his career norms is an easy to spot indicator of why he fell away from the 30-HR/100-RBI mark.  In the midst of what was his best hitting stretch of the season during the month of August, Abreu first was forced to undergo emergency surgery for a strangled testicle (it hurts just typing this).  Things then got even more bizarre in mid-September when Abreu was hospitalized due to complications from an ingrown hair and that proved to be the final nail in the coffin for his 2018 season.  So as you can see, Abreu’s injuries were not of the baseball variety and really were as fluky as can be which means we don’t have to worry about him being a constant source of DL frustration going forward.  With Abreu hopefully having better luck on the freaky injury front, the counting totals should rebound to where they should be.  So in putting this all together, it is easy to make a case that Abreu will go right back to the upper-tier fantasy baseball first baseman he historically has been before his very difficult 2018 clouded the picture a bit.  With some very unlucky health and a tough BABIP combining to do an unfair number on Abreu a year ago, our advice is to take advantage of the draft discount this spring and dive back in here without hesitation. 

2019 PROJECTION:  .288 26 HR 98 RBI 84 R 1 SB  

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