El Comedulce Getting Sweeter With Age
June 25, 2009 1 Comment
Bobby Abreu used to be known as a guy with one of the best power/speed combinations in the game. From 1999-2002, he slugged .500 or better in every season and routinely stole 25+ bases. He hit 41 home runs in the home run derby, including a then-record 24 in one round. Since that home run derby, he’s transformed into a below-average power hitter, but maintained the .300 batting average ability he had always possessed.
This year, at the age of 35, he’s taken that changed approach to a whole new level. With just four home runs on the season, he’s slugging only .426 as of this writing. His strikeouts have also been declining, which is a strange thing to happen to a player past his prime, and his groundball percentage has been increasing the last four years. It’s possible that he has recognized his decreased power potential and adjusted his swing to be more conservative.
Here’s what stands out the most: Abreu has stolen 16 bases this year and been caught only twice. Sixteen! That’s more than burners like Curtis Granderson, Brian Roberts, Shane Victorino, and Carlos Beltran, not to mention his higher success rate than all of those except for Beltran (who is one of the most successful base stealers ever).
Abreu has seemingly found the foutain of youth with an increased spring in his step. Even his UZR has improved, though it still remains below average and is subject to lots of noise. With all the talk these days about late-career resurgences being fueled by PED’s, Abreu’s transformation is a welcome sight.