Make Or Break Year: Bobby Abreu

5061012196515_Athletics_at_Angels From 1998 through 2009, just nine players in baseball posted an on-base percentage of at least .400 (min. 6,000 PA), and only one did it with more than 100 total steals. That would be Bobby Abreu. From ages 24 through 35 ('98-'09), Abreu hit .301/.406/.497 with 253 homers and 341 steals for the Phillies, Yankees, and Angels. He wasn't quite a five-tool threat because his defense left a lot to be desired, but Abreu was an offensive force for more than a decade.

But in 2010, at age 36, the roof started to cave in. Abreu hit .255/.352/.435 overall, his lowest full season OPS ever. Although he still stole 24 bases, he was caught ten times for a 70.5% success rate, well below his 75.8% success rate from '98-'09. Abreu's first 40 double, 20 homer season since 2004 still resulted in the lowest full season slugging percentage of his career. 

Both the player and club are in a bind in 2011. Abreu's contract contains a $9MM vesting option for 2012 that will kick in with 433 plate appearances next year, a total he's reached every year since 1998. If the option vests, the Angels are on the hook for another year of Abreu's decline phase. If it doesn't, Abreu is a declining 37-year-old free agent that is best suited for designated hitter. Those guys aren't in high demand.

The Halos have the option of platooning Abreu in 2011, which would limit his plate appearances. He hit just .228/.296/.342 against southpaws in 2010, down from .267/.348/.386 in 2009 and .315/.370/.495 in 2008. The team doesn't appear to have an obvious right-handed platoon partner though, unless they try to really force the issue with someone like Brandon Wood or Bobby Wilson.

Abreu has long been a productive player in this league, one that should at least spark some Hall of Fame debate, but his best course of action in 2011 is to play well enough (and often enough) that his option kicks in. It's highly unlikely he'll find that kind of money on the open market after the season.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.


Leave a Reply

27 Comments on "Make Or Break Year: Bobby Abreu"


TwinsVet
4 years 5 months ago

I guess I thought a “make a break” player was one more like Hunter Pence, who needed to show whether or not he was going to live up to the hype or become a bust. Not a guy who’s simply a declining veteran.

4 years 5 months ago

Hunter Pence is not in danger of being a bust, that doesn’t really make sense.

Wek
4 years 5 months ago

By that logic Abreu is not in danger of being a bust either. The guy has already made it. He’s just going into the declining phase, like every other player will around their mid 30s. “Make or Break Year” is being taken too literal. If Abreu get’s a “Make or Break Year” then Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, Magglio Ordonez and many more older players should get one too.

Tko11
4 years 5 months ago

Yea I dont understand how Abreu is make or brake if hes already made it. More like how much longer he can keep it up before age catches up.

HerbertAnchovy
4 years 5 months ago

Neither does a make or break year article about an established player that is near retirement.

TwinsVet
4 years 5 months ago

That’s probably fair. Maybe a delmon young? I’m thinking guys who are on the cusp between reaching their hype and having their team give up on them. Guys who aren’t just approaching free agency, but going into a career-defining season.

NL_East_Rivalry
4 years 5 months ago

I believe it is because he has to make his PA’s or break into a 1 mil contract or less. So 8+ mill dollars are on the line for him this season.

TwinsVet
4 years 5 months ago

Ha. Howd I miss that?

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
4 years 5 months ago

You might think. I also don’t get these “make or break” articles for players in their late 30s. The only real question is whether they hang it up after this season or the next one.

AJCBE
4 years 5 months ago

Hmmm, maybe it’s Make- A few more million, or Break- A brittle bone while running the bases and never walk again.

I really don’t know either.

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
4 years 5 months ago

I like your theory. As good as any. I suppose if the minds at MLBTR don’t explain the logic behind these articles, we’ll have to invent our own. FWIW, I asked the same question about the “make or break” article about Casey Blake.

Whole_New_World
4 years 5 months ago

Yeah, this series really doesn’t make much sense, so just go with it. Next up the the “Make or Break” series: Albert Pujols.

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
4 years 5 months ago

Ha. That’s right, if he doesn’t end up owning the Cardinals, he will have failed.

ryankrol
4 years 5 months ago

Bobby Abreu’s role and decline are clearly defined. He really doesn’t have anything left to prove other than whether or not he should get Hall of Fame consideration, I guess. lol

4 years 5 months ago

Platoon option is to put Willits in right/left and have Hunter/Wells DH.

Guest
4 years 5 months ago

yeah… ill be betting that abreu has a better season than vernon wells.

oater
4 years 5 months ago

I don’t think it will happen, but the better platoon option if Mark Trumbo.

eyeglass1
4 years 5 months ago

Wow. Who writes this stuff? That drop in stealing percentage was MASSIVE! A whole 5%. Wow. Yes, sure does show a decline in speed… maybe he slipped a couple of times? Get real.

Commander_Nate
4 years 5 months ago

Who was that right-handed hitter the Angels had ’til just recently who crushed lefties? He hit like 20+ HR almost every year, kinda big dude, had a beard, got lots of chicks…what happened to him? Oh well, hopefully Bobby was just having a bad luck year in 2010, which his BABIP indicates to be true.

notsureifsrs
4 years 5 months ago

maybe, but i’m not so sure. his babip was lower than his career average, but not much lower than the league average – which suggests it could just be decline. that theory is supported by his career low 16% line drive rate, which has been declining since 2008 and is a good 6 points lower than his career average

SmackSaw
4 years 5 months ago

Scioscia doesn’t like fat catchers of Italian descent

RedSoxDynasty
4 years 5 months ago

I heard he’s the reason Mike Piazza juiced up. Not for better on field performance but to keep Scioscia off his back and keep him from calling him a “Fat Meatball”! Lol!

wickedkevin
4 years 5 months ago

I don’t really get these make or break year articles for players in their mid-late 30’s.

4 years 5 months ago

Imagine the Angels outfield if they had Hunter Wells and Abreu in 2001 instead of 2011 that would have been something

Guest
4 years 5 months ago

vernon wells played 30 games in 2001. torii hunter had a better OPS this season than in 2001. the only player who was clearly better in 01 was abreu. outside of defense and age of course.

4 years 5 months ago

ok 2002? is that better?

Im not looking for there best seasons im just saying if my team had Well Hunter and Abreau ten years ago i would be pumped!

Hardball52
4 years 5 months ago

Why would outside of defense be “of course”? Defense is a huge factor in a players value, and all three have had drastic downturns.

Granted, its a fairly obvious point for three older players.. but its still true.