Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press
Much is expected of Jose Abreu.
There are quite a few players who could have breakout seasons. Unfortunately, many of those players are breakout candidates only because their performances to this point (think Dayan Viciedo and Gordon Beckham) have been disappointing.
And while it would be fantastic to see Beckham get on base at a .350 clip and have Viciedo hit 25 home runs and drive in 80 runs, we will look at some of the other players who could explode this season.
We will use the player empirical comparison and optimization test algorithm (PECOTA) projections over at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required) as a launching point. The projections are available for public consumption in a column by Scott Lindholm over at CBS Chicago.
The expectations GM Rick Hahn has for Avisail Garcia are quite high. MLB.com’s Scott Merkin quoted him saying that Garcia is one of the guys he believes “can not only beat you with a home run, but also run the bases well and play good defense and ideally get one base.”
Garcia has the talent to do it, too. Now he is not being projected by PECOTA to have a very good season. It has him compiling a .268/.295/.400 slash line with 15 home runs and 65 RBI. FanGraphs’ Steamer projections are a bit more optimistic, projecting him to produce a .278/.315/.419 slash line but without as many long balls (14) or runs driven in (64).
There is no doubt that Garcia is being counted on to do great things in a White Sox uniform.
Eno Sarris over at FanGraphs recently wrote a piece regarding the difficulty in projecting how Jose Abreu will perform in his first MLB season. His final conclusion was that there is absolutely no real way of forecasting how well Abreu will adjust.
Sarris is right. Predicting what Abreu will do this season is impossible, but that doesn’t mean attempts haven’t been made.
PECOTA has Abreu hitting 12 home runs and driving in 38 with a .262/.326/.464 slash line over the course of only 268 plate appearances. To be sure the plate-appearance total is low, but even if we double the trips to the dish, the numbers aren’t electrifying.
At the other end of the spectrum are the OLIVER and ZiPS forecasts available in the Sarris article. OLIVER projects 600 plate appearances for Abreu and has him finishing with an .868 OPS. The ZiPS formula sees the first baseman getting 538 plate appearances and compiling an .858 OPS.
Hitting boils down to mechanics, though, and Abreu is a pure hitter, according to FanGraphs’ Dan Farnsworth. In his article (which is a must-read), Farnsworth compares Abreu’s swing to Yoenis Cespedes’, Buster Posey’s and Yasiel Puig’s. His conclusion was that the prize of the White Sox’s offseason will be “a top-25 hitter in the major leagues.”
Strong words indeed. Expect great things from Abreu this season.