One of my favorite things in baseball is when a veteran player who has always been solid makes a monumental, MVP level leap. I know we’re supposed to love when the young guys do it but you can’t help what you love and Jose Abreu‘s MVP caliber play in 2020 is what I love. In five months Jose Abreu will be turning 34 but the Cuban slugger doesn’t care, he’s going to continue putting up the best season of his career. After two home runs (4-5, 2 HR, 5 R, 7 RBI, BB) Sunday, Abreu now has 15 HRs on the year to go along with career bests in AVG (.319), OPS (.991), ISO (.308) and HR/FB% (30.6%). There honestly might not be a better hitter in baseball not named Trout so far this season.
The question is, of course, what has changed? Abreu has always been a good hitter but he hasn’t been this good since his rookie year. Plate discipline? Nope. All his metrics there look pretty much the same. BB% and K%? Practically identical to years past. His Statcast numbers? We’re getting warmer as he put up career highs in pretty much every major Statcast number, but why? To answer that we have to go his batted ball profile. This year Abreu has decreased his Pull% by 8% and increased his Cent% by nearly 12% which marks a huge change in his batted ball profile. Why does this matter? I don’t know for sure but I suspect that much like Franmil Reyes it has to do with his size. At 6’3″, 250 lbs. Abreu is a big man and I wonder if hitting the ball to centerfield allows him to better extend his hand and fully reach his power more consistently. It doesn’t hurt that his home park is a hitters park that doesn’t exactly have a huge centerfield and he’s gotten to play in a few places like Milwaukee that help there too. He still gets to play in Great American Ballpark too in a few weeks so buckle up. Either way Jose Abreu is 10th in the league in OPS, 12th in AVG, 2nd in HRs, and 1st in RBI. That’s an MVP season if I’ve ever heard of one and you should be sure to enjoy it while you can cause it’s been pretty fun so far.
Let’s check in on how the other hitters did on Saturday:
Bryce Harper (OF, PHI) – 3-5, HR, 2B, 3 R, RBI, 2 BB –
Harper has quietly been having a heck of season himself after hitting his 8th home run on Saturday along with three runs scored giving him 31 on the season. He’s walking more than he’s struck out on the year and is setting career highs in nearly every Statcast number. It’s cool to see him putting it all together.
Didi Gregorius (SS, PHI) – 2-4, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI –
Let’s not forget Didi Gregorius
, who after his homer on Saturday has matched Harper in dingers on the season and is now tied for 3rd amongst SS in RBIs and ranks 5th in HRs as well. If you were betting on a Didi rebound this season you look pretty smart right now.
Jesus Aguilar (1B, MIA) – 3-4, HR, 2B, 3 R, RBI – Jesus Aguilar
continued his resurgent season with his 6th home run on Saturday. He’s tied his career low in K%, has an above average BB% and is still hitting .286 on the season. He’s barely being rostered in most leagues and if you need a 1B or UTL Aguilar could be the perfect addition for the home stretch.
Jose Ramirez (3B, CLE) – 2-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB, SB –
While the AVG isn’t anything to write home about Ramirez’ combo meal on Saturday moved him into 18th in the league in HRs with 11 and put him in 4th in SBs. There are too many guys in the league with that combination of skills even if his statcast numbers still worry me quite a bit.
Joey Gallo (OF, TEX) – 2-6, HR, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB –
Gallo has been dreadful this season so this was certainly a sight for sore eyes. It was his 9th homer on the season. He’s still barreling the ball at an elite rate and hitting it harder than most but not AS hard as he used to and hitters like Gallo need every bit of exit velocity they can get in order to succeed.
Marwin Gonzalez (2B, 3B, OF MIN) – 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI –
Speaking of dreadful Marwin Gonzalez
hit his fourth home run yesterday but it’s his first since the calendar turned to September. I know it’s tempting to pick him up thanks to his positional versatility but he’s hitting just .210 on the season I don’t think he rights the ship until next season.
Jared Walsh (1B, LAA) – 2-5, HR, R, 3 RBI –
Walsh homered for the 4th straight game yesterday and since being called up he has been absolutely on fire hitting .273 with 5 home runs in 19 games. His 13.2 BLL% and .272 xBA suggest that much of his production so far might be pretty legit and he’s barely rostered outside of dynasty leagues. He’s definitely worth a look if you need help at 1B.
Ty France (2B, 3B SEA) – 3-4, HR, R, RBI, BB – Most people (myself included) dismissed Ty France this season after his struggles last year but he has proven all the doubters wrong so far hitting .333 with four home runs on the season in just 28 games this season along with a .964 OPS. Of his 28 hits on the season 10 have gone for extra bases and his xSLG almost perfectly matches his actual SLG so the power looks pretty legit. Like Walsh and Aguilar he’s available in most leagues and would make for a worthwile addition to round out the rest of the season.
Brian Anderson (3B, MIA) – 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI –
A preseason sleeper pick for many folks Anderson has lived up to the hype after hitting his 6th home run on Saturday to go along with a .273 average and a career high 11.0 BB%. He’s been hitting either cleanup or in the five hole all season for Miami and it’s like he’s going to make a lot of people look very smart by the end of the season. He’s still out there in a ton of leagues and would be a worthy addition if you need a 3B.
Adam Frazier (OF, 2B PIT) – 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI –
Frazier has largely been a disappointing player this season has his consistent .27os AVG has dropped all the way down to .237 but he’s bouyed that with a surprising amount of power with his 5th home run on Saturday. I wouldn’t count on the homers continuing as there’s little evidence in his profile that backs up the power. On the other hand things are turning around for him as he’s hitting .333 with a 12.2 BB% in September. I still don’t think he’s worth grabbing unless you need the average right now as it should be pretty empty average in that Pirates lineup.
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire)