At the All-Star Break last season, Bobby Abreu was hitting .307 with 18 homeruns and 58 RBI. He also had 21 stolen bases and it looked to all the world that he would reach the 30/30 Club - 30 homeruns and 30 stolen bases in a season - for the third time in his career. It also looked like he would hit over .300 for the seventh time in eight seasons. It was all a lock. Suddenly though, everything fell apart and Abreu finished the season with a .286 average and while he did get to 31 stolen bases, he hit just six more homeruns to finish with 24.
Suddenly, a look at the stats shows that Bobby Abreu has seen his average fall in each of the last four seasons and in six of the last seven seasons. That slide could be one of the reasons why the Phillies were open to the idea of dealing Abreu, who is saddling the team with a contract that guarantees him at least $31.5 million over the next two seasons. The simple numbers of the contract and new GM Pat Gillick looking for "financial flexibility" were certainly a key part of the reasons for considering offers for Abreu.
So, were the Phillies smart to hang on to Abreu? Here's what we see for Abreu in 2006.
Homeruns: Abreu has averaged 23 homeruns a season during his time in Philadelphia. Those numbers were dragged down by back-to-back 20 homerun seasons in 2002 and 2003, but helped by 31 homeruns in 2001 and 30 homeruns in 2004. In other words, Abreu's 24 homeruns last season were right about where he has been through his career with the Phillies. Still, hitting just six homeruns in the second-half of the season is cause for some concern. Some believe it's Abreu showing his age, while others believe the Homerun Derby caused him to change his swing and try to hit everything out. The second scenario is more likely, since age doesn't hit you as suddenly as Abreu was hit by his slide last season.
RBI: For the third straight season and the fourth out of the last five, Abreu finished with over 100 RBI. He has been a perennial RBI guy and generally hits well with runners on base. That didn't change last season as he hit .305 with runners on base and .303 with runners in scoring position.
Runs: Since coming to the Phillies, Abreu has averaged 104 runs per season. He has always known how to get on base and make things happen, combining good baserunning skills with good speed. It hasn't hurt having good hitters behind him in the lineup, either. He should have pretty good offense behind him again this season and should challenge the 100 runs plateau once again.
OBP: Bobby Abreu has a career .411 on-base percentage. He has good plate discipline and seven straight seasons of drawing over 100 walks per season. Of course, he has eight straight seasons with over 100 strikeouts and was just three whiffs short of his career high in strikeouts last season. In the first half of the year, he struck out once every 5 at bats and struck out once every 4 at bats in the second half. His walks were steady drawing a base on balls just about once in every five at bats. With the drop in his average though, his on-base percentage suffered, falling from .428 in the first half to .376 after the All-Star Game.
Projections For 2006
If Abreu has a strong start to the season, but the Phillies don't, look for him to become a hot topic around the trade deadline. Watch too, for what Chris Roberson, Michael Bourn and Josh Kroeger are doing at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre, because their performance could hasten a deal for the Phillies to move Abreu to a contending team and make room for one of those younger players.