Oct
01

Bob Abreu’s mangificant revival

By

In our younger and more vulnerable days, we were not too kind to Bobby Abreu. Now, despite our early trangressions, we did apologize to Mr. Abreu in June. Let’s take a look at where things ended up with the presumptive 2008 right fielder this year.

During today’s game, as he hustled down the line early on, Bobby Abreu beat out a potential double play ball to secure his 100th RBI of the season. Abreu would later walk to drive in run number 101 on the season, thus completing a remarkable turnaround. Abreu ended the season with a whopping 123 runs scored, 40 doubles, 16 HR, 101 RBI and a batting line of .283/.369/.445. While those rate stats aren’t in line with his career numbers, those are some impressive counting stats.

Now, let’s jump back in time a bit to see how Abreu got there. The journey makes his final number seem all the better. At the end of May in Toronto, Joe Torre opted to bench Bobby Abreu. The former All Star was hitting .228/.313/.289 and needed to refocus. Whatever happened that day sure did work. Over the next 106 games (not yet counting Sunday’s), Abreu hit at a pace even with his career line. He turned in a .312/.397/.525 line with 34 doubles, 14 home runs and 77 RBIs.

That’s some turn around. Not coincidentally, Abreu’s turnaround came with the Yankees’ turnaround. It’s really that simple. When Abreu hits, pitchers have to face Jeter-Abreu-Rodriguez in the heart of a fearsome order. There’s no letting up, and Abreu, in effect, put up MVP numbers for the reason of the season. Furthermore, had Abreu avoided his early season slump, I bet the Yanks would have won the division.

To bolster that claim, let’s see what Abreu’s final line would have looked yet if we take those stellar 106 games and extend them over 162. He would have hit .312/.397/.525, significantly higher than his final 2007 numbers. He could have ended the year with 21 HR, 117 RBI (!) and 52 doubles. His numbers through 106 games also would have put him on pace to score 137 runs. If that’s not an MVP candidate, I don’t know what is.

With those extra runs and extra hitting, the Yanks would have been able to win two games — any two games really — during their 21-29 stretch. We can blame the Devil Rays all we want, but the truth is that the Yankees did themselves in with a slow start, injuries and poor pitching.

Now, let’s jump ahead to this week. On Thursday, the numbers are all reset to 0 — or is that .000/.000/.000? When Johnny Damon digs in against C.C. Sabathia on Thursday, we’ll have to hope that Bobby Abreu can help lead the Yanks to 11 more victories this year. In May, I wouldn’t have believed it, but after the last 107 games, I think he can.

Categories : Analysis

28 Comments

  1. Yankee Fan in Chicago says:

    I dunno. I’m expecting another first round exit. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if we do anything in the playoffs. Though I do think if get by the Indians we’ll win the pennant. I think we can take the LAAofA, despite the trouble they’ve given us, and I think we’d demolish the Sawx.

    • Relaunch says:

      Great idea. “I think the Yanks will lose in the 1st round but if they get past cleveland they will win the pennant” Your crystal ball is amazing and your predictions are off the hook!

  2. John says:

    Abreu’s struggles against lefties have been well documented (Joe had a great post on it), and even Joe Torre noticed and sat Abrue at a couple key matchups.

    What’re the odds that we see Shelley Duncan in right field against Sabathia?

    • Ben K. says:

      Slim to none.

      On another note, why are so many people so pessimistic about the Yanks’ playoff chances? I think we’re starting to act like Red Sox fans: expecting failure at every turn. Let’s be positive about it. C.C. Sabathia aside, the Yanks were 6-0 against the Indians this year and kept them to 17 runs in six games. All we have to do is win three of the next five. That’s hardly a tall order.

      • Kyle says:

        I agree, the pessimim doesnt make any sense. In the second half of the season we were the best team in baseball, period. I fully expect a good matchup from the Indians but I expect to win.

      • Count Zero says:

        Why? One word: Pitching.

        Can the Yankees go all the way? Absolutely. If they go on a tear with the bats, they can demolish anyone. Will they? I doubt it.

        If we get a split on the road in games 1 and 2, everyone would be happy with that, yes? I mean, that’s the classic desired outcome. Problem is, that leaves us in a pivotal game 3 with an unknown quantity in Roger. And if we lose game 3, we come back with…Moose. Even if we win game 3, we are looking for Moose to close it out in game 4, lest we have to return to Cleveland for a deciding game 5 against CC.

        And you want me to be confident? ;-)

        • Jon says:

          I’d take Roger and Moose, in Yankee stadium, with short hooks and Hughes waiting to take over, with a rested Joba and Mo, against right-handed starters Westbrook and Byrd anyday.

          Sure, Sabathia scares me a bit. But it’s not like we don’t have any RH hitters. I hear a few of them are pretty good.

          • Count Zero says:

            I would take a “healthy” Clemens against Westbrook — but is he healthy? And I wouldn’t take Moose over just about anybody in MLB right now. Even last year (when he was good) he cost us a very important game 2 when he failed to hold the lead against an anemic hitting Tiger team. Yeah, he’s come up big before but that was when he actually had a fastball. :-)

  3. brxbmrs says:

    Abreu has come up soft the last month offensively and defensively. An average RF cuts off Jay Payton’s “triple” a few nights ago and if you’ve watched the quality of his throws you can see his arm is not close to what it once was.

    His two RBI’s yesterday were a joke, and much like Matsui, he’s benefited from being in an absolutely awesome lineup with A-Rod, Posada and Cano behind him and a scortching Damon and Jeter in front – Abreu and Matsui are the lukiest guys in mlb.

    I have little confidence Abreu will come up big in October, but hope I’m wrong and I’d bet his D could be a big problem for us.

    BTW, as awful as Melky was this month he still drove in two more runs than Abreu in September and 7 more than Giambi, 4 more than Matsui. Alot of these huge money guys keep getting a huge pass on here.

    • Ben K. says:

      Bobby Abreu didn’t have many RBIs in September because Melky Cabrera did a crappy job of getting on base. Abreu hit .272/.385/.466 with 24 runs scored and 17 extra-base hits. Melky hit .180/.236/.220 with 4 extra-base hits and 8 runs scored. Why should we criticize Bobby for a fine month and give Melky a pass for the terrible numbers he put up?

      Giambi’s been criticized enough, and we’ve been more than vocal with our opinion that Matsui’s mechanics at the plate are out of whack.

      The pessimism around Yankee fans is getting to be ridiculous.

      • brxbmrs says:

        Ben,

        You are acting like Melky was the leadoff hitter for every game in September and ignoring the two guys who hit in front of Abreu the most – Damon and Jeter.

        Melky had little to do with Abreu’s inability to plate runs in September – 16 mil for a guy who hits 16 HR’s ain’t exactly a bargain either.

        I didn’t give Melky a pass for his September, but I also watched the quality of Abreu’s AB’s especially with RISP – he was soft. The way he got those two RBI’s yesterday was also soft, especially telling was how he couldn’t get Jete in from 3rd who passed up an inside the park HR to tee it up for el como dulce. Three RBI’s since September 12th doesn’t deserve the article you wrote IMHO

        As for Melk, Yanks are 72 – 45 in games he starts in CF. Defense apparently is low on your list of priorities.

        As for negativity, the Yanks offense the last few October’s has looked far less potent once they started facing good pitching in October – I’m not going to be surprised if most of our big bats look smaller – hope not, but its pretty much the same lineup that has let us down the last few years.

    • steve (different one) says:

      yes, let’s use RBIs to measure performance!

    • Jon says:

      Abreu’s OBP by month:

      June: .405
      July: .384
      August: .410
      Septemer: .385

      ’nuff said.

  4. Ben K. says:

    Why I’m Confident:

    1. Chien-Ming Wang

    2. The Yanks beat up the Indians.

    3. Their offense is insane.

    4. Claiming defeat before a pitch has been thrown or an inning played is simply ludicrous.

  5. brxbmrs says:

    Its really not enough said when the guy you are talking about has a reputation of passing the buck to the guy behind him.

    He K’s alot as well and is not a guy you want the ball hit to.

    He’s got to drive in runs when they count – he’ll ultimately be judged on that.

  6. Ben K. says:

    BTW, as awful as Melky was this month he still drove in two more runs than Abreu in September and 7 more than Giambi, 4 more than Matsui. Alot of these huge money guys keep getting a huge pass on here.

    Other people who have fewer RBIs than Melky Cabrera: Barry Bonds, Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki, Hunter Pence.

    All of them are better than Melky.

    You can see what you want in Abreu, but I see a guy who hit .300/.400/.500 over the last two-thirds of the season. I would have to believe that one or two of those 77 runs he drove in actually mattered. Take Abreu for what you will. You don’t take him; I do.

    To respond to your other points: Melky’s hitting .180/.236/.220 more than cancels out his defense. He’s costing the teams more runs than he’s saving. And Derek Jeter is getting paid $20 million to hit fewer home runs and drive in fewer runs than Abreu. Let’s dump on him too.

  7. brxbmrs says:

    Yanks were 5-2 against the Tigers (would have been 7-0 w\o Farnsy) in 06.

    Who expected the Marlins to beat the Yanks in the WS, or Arizona?

    Red Sox coming back against 3-0?

    The 4 AL teams are all very tough in their own way. Personally I think many people’s “confidence” comes across to others fans as arrogance.

    I love Wang and Pettitte, Joba and Mo, but the Yanks have serious flaws – most of all depth of pitching and an offense that can quickly disappear against good pitching.

    The Indians are probably our best bet to advance, but I felt the same way about the Tigers last year.

  8. brxbmrs says:

    I’m glad you are so down on Melk, because one look at his stats proves you can’t objectively analyze a young player. IT also explains alot of your overvaluation of Phil Hughes.

    Abreu has a deserved reputation of being a soft player and there is no denying his defense has slipped.

    As for bagging on Jeter, I’m sure you guys will soon.

  9. [...] all of you being so negative, enough. ENOUGH. We’re all fans of the Yankees; we’re all rooting for [...]

  10. brxbmrs says:

    Ben,

    BTW, if Melky hit 0/0/0 – in the lineup you “glow” about, his D would be worth carrying him in the 9 hole – that’s what you refuse to see.

    Also, unlike Abreu, Melk won a few big games with TIMELY hitting in a very bad offensive month for him.

    Talk about NEGATIVITY – that’s what you guys have against a good 23 year old CF.

    • Joseph P. says:

      Talk about over-exaggeration.

      And what’s this nonsense with “ability to evaluate a young player?” You’re using RBI to compare Melky and Abreu.

      As for timely hitting, it’s a bunch of luck. If you want the full explanation, e-mail me. Otherwise, it’ll be a post this winter.

  11. Dude says:

    brx, you think Hughes is over valued?

  12. brxbmrs says:

    >As for timely hitting, it’s a bunch of luck

  13. brxbmrs says:

    Site cut off my response above – suffice it to say I don’t believe in the timely hitting as luck theory – Bill James isn’t omnipotent and while luck is a component, focus and having a plan have more to do with timely hitting than luck.

    • Joseph P. says:

      Many players have a plan. Many players impeccably focus on the task at hand. Then why don’t we have a number of 1.000 hitters?

      That’s the starting point. I won’t say that the ability to “rise to the occasion” doesn’t exist, but luck plays such a role that it’s completely immeasurable.

      What I can measure is Melky hitting rock bottom, save for one game, since August 15.

  14. brxbmrs says:

    Then why don’t we have a number of 1.000 hitters?

    That’s a silly question – the answer is nothing in this world is perfect.

    Focus, grace under pressure, talent, the ability to do things with the bat others can’t – i.e. slap to rf like Jeter.

    I know a couple of you guys are in your 20′s, I’d bet as you get older you will realize that there are “clutch” people in all walks of life – many reasons why, guts, brains, talent as well as luck – unfortunately not everything in life can be reduced to statsitical analysis.

    I’m glad you all are so quick to measure Melky’s hitting rock bottom – and I hope he has and comes back up. And again, I love how you totally discount Damon’s inability to be an everyday CFer and Melk’s 16 assists, preventing advancing runners, etc and also the hope that he improves with more expereience.

    It just amuses me that you haven’t mentioned Matsui’s .185/.343/.346 this month and his rapidly deteriorating body. Same for Giambi.

    I’m glad you also didn’t “measure” Abreu not cutting off Jay Payton’s triple – that happens this month and it could be the difference maker in our season.

    Even if Melk “only” won one game in September with his bat, it was one more than Abreu did and he didn’t throw a game away by not cutting off a ball that most likely Melk would have caught had he been in RF.

    That’s also something you aren’t realizing, in a close game, every out you can make can be the difference maker – reducing the # of pitches the staff has to throw, recducing pressure and strain on the team – and again, you never see that in a box score.

    A few years back, the Yanks staff was absolutely toast by Octber – a big reason why was the shoddy, limited range D that hung our pitchers out to dry from Game 1.

    That’s why the bottom line for me is I’d rather have a 23 year old Melky making 430K and anchoring our D, than 13 mil Matsui, a soft 16 mil Abreu and a worthless 21 mil Giambi.

    Alot of writers in many different papers and sites have credited Melky’s play since June 1st as a significant reason why the Yanks turned it around.

    Why you people focus alot of your negativity on a guy who is still growing as a player is a bit disheartening.

    Melk for some reason is the collective focus of most of your criticism – you also need to be more objective on your overestimation of Hughes. JMO

    • Ben K. says:

      Why you people focus alot of your negativity on a guy who is still growing as a player is a bit disheartening.

      Melk for some reason is the collective focus of most of your criticism – you also need to be more objective on your overestimation of Hughes. JMO

      This is just wrong. You’re doing Kyle Farnsworth and Brian Bruney a disservice. But seriously, this is a post about Bobby Abreu. Who brought up Melky? You did. Second, you’re the on directing all of your negative criticism at one player: Bobby Abreu. Why? I don’t know.

      We’ve certainly expressed our fair share of delight with Melky Cabrera. We appreciate his youth and enthusiasm, his defense and timely hitting. But he isn’t perfect, and the jury’s still out on Melky.

      Anyway, that’s it. This topic is closed. There’s nothing left to say here and we’re certainly not having a rational discussion about it anymore.

  15. [...] all of you being so negative, enough. ENOUGH. We’re all fans of the Yankees; we’re all rooting for [...]