The Abreu Impact

The Angels spent most of the winter declaring that 2009 was the season when they were finally going to give their young kids a real shot, and used that as an explanation for why they weren’t active in replacing Mark Teixeira after he headed to the Yankees and told Garret Anderson to enjoy the rest of his career elsewhere. However, with the price for Bobby Abreu crashing through the floor, they couldn’t pass up a deal when they saw one, and have reportedly signed him to a one year, $5 million-ish deal.

From a pure dollars per win standpoint, this is obviously a good move. Even with Abreu’s defensive decline, he’s still something like a +2 to +2.5 win player, so the Angels are paying just a couple of million per win in this deal. If he puts them over the top and helps them win the AL West, the return on those dollars could be in the 500% range. It’s money well spent.

However, it creates some interesting questions in LA. They already re-signed Juan Rivera to a three year contract earlier this winter, and obviously Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero are going to play when healthy. Plus, there’s guys like Gary Matthews Jr and Reggie Willits hanging around as reserve outfielders already on the roster. There had also been talk of moving Chone Figgins to the OF to make room for Brandon Wood, one of the young kids who the Angels had been saying was going to get a real chance to prove himself in the majors this year. So, how do they sort all this out?

Let’s take a look at the five positions that are related here – LF, CF, RF, 3B, and DH. Between those five spots, the Angels have something like 3,500 plate appearances to hand out. 2,500 or so will be against RHP, with the other 1,000 coming against LHP, assuming a 70/30 split. Let’s start filling up those PA totals with one potential option.

RF – Guerrero, 375 PA vs RHP, 150 PA vs LHP
RF – Abreu, 125 PA vs RHP, 50 vs LHP

CF – Hunter, 450 PA vs RHP, 150 PA vs LHP
CF – Matthews, 50 PA vs RHP, 50 PA vs LHP

LF – Abreu, 250 PA vs RHP, 75 PA vs LHP
LF – Rivera, 125 PA vs RHP, 100 PA vs LHP
LF – Matthews, 125 PA vs RHP, 25 PA vs LHP

DH – Rivera, 200 PA vs RHP, 100 PA vs LHP
DH – Abreu, 125 PA vs RHP, 25 PA vs LHP
DH – Figgins, 75 PA vs RHP, 25 vs LHP
DH – Guerrero, 50 PA vs RHP, 25 PA vs LHP
DH – Wood, 50 PA vs RHP, 25 PA vs LHP

3B – Figgins, 400 PA vs RHP, 125 PA vs LHP
3B – Wood, 100 PA vs RHP, 75 PA vs LHP

Total by Player:

Guerrero: 425 PA vs RHP, 175 PA vs LHP
Hunter: 450 PA vs RHP, 150 PA vs LHP
Abreu: 500 PA vs RHP, 150 PA vs LHP
Rivera: 325 PA vs RHP, 200 PA vs LHP
Figgins: 475 PA vs RHP, 150 PA vs LHP
Matthews: 175 PA vs RHP, 75 PA vs LHP
Wood: 150 PA vs RHP, 100 PA vs LHP

That’s one way that the Angels could potentially distribute the 3,500 PA they’ll get from those five positions. As you can see, the regular line-up would include Guerrero, Hunter, Abreu, Rivera, and Figgins, with Matthews and Wood relegated to backup duties.

The problem, however, is that if you’re consistently starting Guerrero, Rivera, and Abreu, two of those three have to play the outfield. That’s just not going to be a pretty sight to watch, and the pitching staff will take a hit with that kind of outfield defense behind them.

Abreu will help the Angels offense – that’s not in question. However, there are roster issues here that need to be worked out. In reality, the at-bats Abreu is going to get are coming from Gary Matthews (which downgrades the defense) and from Brandon Wood (which stalls his development, again). The marginal impact of Abreu’s presence on the team, while taking playing time from those two, is probably in the +1 win range.

This is a good move for the Angels. Adding a +2 win player, who is about +1 win better than your current alternatives, for $5 million in a season where you’re expecting to contend is a move that you should make. But this isn’t a huge upgrade for the Angels – it’s a marginal improvement, and one that could potentially cause some other issues.



Print This Post



Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Jones
Guest
Jones
7 years 6 months ago

Did you really just say Abreu is only +1 win better than GMJ/Wood?

Joe
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Good signing. When you say he is worth 2.5 wins, where can I find the 2008 leaders in that statistic? Is it “WPA?” “Win Values?”

Dan
Guest
Dan
7 years 6 months ago

So you don’t think any of their OF/DH types will make a transfer to 1B?

Xeifrank
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Abreu’s WAR per FanGraphs.
2002: 6.8
2003: 6.1
2004: 5.7
2005: 4.2
2006: 3.4
2007: 2.8
2008: 1.3

and he was something like -25 runs on defense with the Yankees last year. Most forecast systems have him hitting about the same this year as last. To get to 2 wins, he’s going to either have to hit better or field better than he did last year.
vr, Xei

Geez
Guest
Geez
7 years 6 months ago

The problem is…

Abreu’s UZR
2004: -11.3
2005: -6.5
2006: -15.6
2007: -4.2
2008: -25.2

Do you really think he’s -25.2 bad? Naw. Nobody uses one-year samples to gauge defensive value. These things aren’t perfect and you have to consider sample size.

Also, PMR had Abreu at -11.45.

Abreu is probably a poor defender, but not -25.2 bad. No way. He’s more like -10.

Xeifrank
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

I agree he is probably not -25 bad (present value), but may have been -25 bad last year. I don’t know much about UZR, does it regress to the mean based on sample sizes, or does it just output the raw performance values?
vr, Xei

Jacob Jackson
Guest
Jacob Jackson
7 years 6 months ago

Teixeira v. Abreu v. Giambi

Isn’t it kind of surprising that these three left-handed hitters entered the market this offseason, and one of them got a $180M contract, while the other two combined for less than $10 million?

It’s interesting how the top of the market was completely unaffected, and how much the middle and even upper-middle tier has dropped.

I mean, all three of those guys are good left-handed hitters who play at the lower rungs of the defensive spectrum. And it’s not impossible that Tex will have an .820 OPS next year and Giambi and Abreu out-perform him at the plate.

(I realize that’s an overly simplistic analysis, but it for me it highlights the amazing disparity in their contracts).

joser
Guest
joser
7 years 6 months ago

And one signed relatively early. Ibanez got a crazy contract by the standards we now have for this offseason. It looked like Philly was overpaying at the time, of course, and was obviously slow to catch on to the new appreciation for defense, but in retrospect — with the economic news and the sobering affect it seems to be having on teams — it’s absolutely insane. Raul’s agent gets the prize this offseason, I think.

Mike
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Teixeira switch hits…

centris
Guest
centris
7 years 6 months ago

You are right this really creates a crunch for those PAs in the OF, 3B and DH. Your break down doesn’t give any to Willits, who might be just as good as Abreu in the corner (http://www.lookoutlanding.com/2009/2/10/755720/today-s-fun-fact).

If they do go with a really poor defensive outfield it could really make their pitchers look a lot worse than they are. Sort of the opposite of how the Mariner’s new outfield might make Washburn look a lot better than he is.

MFG
Guest
MFG
7 years 6 months ago

perhaps Vlad’s health is worse than the team is letting on?

Christo P. Ney
Guest
Christo P. Ney
7 years 6 months ago

Scioscia talked of using Napoli at the DH spot this year to get him 500 abs.

Something to maybe factor in, though this move seems to put that to rest.

It’s a good, yet odd move. Makes me think another move is in the works, maybe for a fifth starter. Aybar had a good winter. He could take over the leadoff spot with the newly-reupped Izturis as a backup, making Figgins expendable and giving Wood a shot. If Wood tanks (entirely possible with all those holes in his swing), they can slide Izturis over as a stopgap and not miss Figgins much. Sean Rodriguez backs up both. Not an ideal situation but…

And heck, with this economy, it’s not like teams won’t be willing to shed third basemen come June/July.

But yeah, this move, as well, seems to be some sort of insurance against the possibility that Guerrero’s contract negotiations stall.

Joe
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

So according to you guys at fangraphs, what would be the best statistic to look at to evaluate 2008 performance? Something in the mold of WARP, Win Shares, that takes into account offense and defense.

Xeifrank
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Maybe the Angels will try to trade somebody at some point during the season.
vr, Xei

Geez
Guest
Geez
7 years 6 months ago

No, no…it isn’t. And you’re not. If what you say is true, you would’ve provided a link that supports your claim. Anyone can see that. The fact that you haven’t speaks volumes. All you have to do is post a link, Dave. That is all. Enough clever talk. Put up or shut up. I’ll gladly admit I was wrong if you can prove yourself right. Unfortunately, you won’t do that because you can’t. Which means I am right. A link ends this.

You will never find a link that shows CHONE’s minor league projections are as accurate and useful as major league projections. You will never find data that supports your claim. Because it just isn’t true.

Nick
Guest
Nick
7 years 6 months ago

Geez, are you being serious? It’s the same system, and you’re saying that it works for some players better than others, even though it’s the same system? I’m definitely missing your logic. I understand when you say that minor league numbers don’t always translate to big league numbers; but there are reasons why, and those reasons are taken into account when CHONE is projecting for the future.

Geez
Guest
Geez
7 years 6 months ago

Nick, you’re totally misinterpreting my posts. I’m saying minor league projections aren’t as accurate or useful as major league projections.

TK
Guest
TK
7 years 6 months ago

Not that this changes things a ton, but isn’t there some non-zero chance that Wood sees some time at shortstop this year? I know they made a big show of moving him to 3B but he did play SS down the stretch in the MLB last season.

Maybe that presents all kinds of other issues, like Wood being a defensive downgrade from Aybar…but…I thought it was worth raising.

Gotowarmissagnes
Guest
Gotowarmissagnes
7 years 6 months ago

http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/community_forecast_2007_preliminary_results/#29

Seems to me Tango’s results indicate Chone was:

4-5 OPS points off for long-term major leagues
3-4 OPS points off for major league players with moderate experience
10-13 OPS points for part-timers, bench players and players with 2 or fewer years of experience
And 56 OPS points off for players making their debut.

If I understand the results correctly.

Yo
Guest
Yo
7 years 6 months ago

Which means Geez was correct.

rdj3video
Guest
rdj3video
7 years 6 months ago

I like the breakdown, but I’ve got to believe those 75 PA for Wood at DH and some of Rivera’s DH PAs will end up in the hands of Guerrero and Napoli. Rivera could log a few innings in right for Vlad, if Vlad needs to DH. Wood could win some more PA at 3B if he produces.

If Kendry Morales isn’t able to hold down 1st base, I would hate the thought of the Angels even thinking about letting Juan Rivera field balls on the right hand side of the diamond. He played 1st for just 2 innings last season for the first time in his career. This scenario is one of those things Rex Hudler conjures up during a broadcast.

It’s unfortunate Gary Matthews performance has reduced him to a very expensive defensive replacement in LF that will give Hunter a day off once every 10 games.

ineedanap
Guest
ineedanap
7 years 6 months ago

All I know is Rivera, Guerrero, Abreu > Anderson, Guerrero, Matthews (especially when Matthews is the DH.

Plus, is Matthews that much better defensively than Abreu to make up the difference in their offensive production?

Anyway, I like the signing. It gives the young guys a chance to develop by having two productive veterans in the lineup. Plus the Angels need offensive production more than they need defense at this point. A left side of Figgins (LF), Wood (3B), and Aybar (SS) would be awesome defensively, but with so many young players its important to have some stabiltity on the offensive side of things as not to have to rely on them for production.

Its not like Wood didn’t get any playing time last year and he was buried under both Izturis and Aybar. With the injuries the Angels always seem to suffer its not a bad idea to have a ton of depth.

Jay in BMore
Guest
Jay in BMore
7 years 5 months ago

Big ups to Gotowarmissagnes (love the name) for posting the link to Tango’s evaluation of the forecasting systems. Following up on GTWMA’s summary, indeed two clear conclusions emerge: negligible difference in overall accuracy between the forecasting systems (including Marcel, Chone, PECOTA et. al.) and a noticeable difference in accuracy when comparing projections for players with MLB experience vs those without. Clearly in support of Geez’ position on this thread and concordant with what common sense would tell us, i.e. it is more reliable to base a prognostication of future performance on prior MLB performance than MiLB (or college) performance.

Just based on an initial read of this thread, Dave Cameron’s steadfast refusal to accept the common sense reality here had completely undermined his credibility. Looking at the Tango evaluation only cemented that perspective. Further, Cameron’s shrill assaults on Geez’ requests for supporting data intimate that Cameron either knows no such data exists or has never taken the time to determine if such data exists. Both of these results are inexcusable and determining which is true would not only be a an exercise in futility, but would only prove a moot point: Cameron’s posts/articles are only worth reading for entertainment value.

Garrett
Guest
Garrett
7 years 5 months ago

Yeah Geez is right based on current data. There’s been a few looks at projection systems, and even the projection creators themselves have readily admitted that minor league predictions are MUCH more complicated and tough than those for reliable big league AB’s.

Not sure what Dave’s talking about. The “I’m right, you’re wrong, period” arguement is one I see too often in the stat community, when people do not understand that there’s more than one way of looking at the numbers and coming up with them. Don’t enjoy seeing it here.

wpDiscuz