Bobby Abreu has a .339 wOBA. That figure represents the lowest of Abreu’s career in seasons that he recorded at least 500 plate appearances. The .173 ISO is right in line with his New York seasons despite the ballpark change and his walk rate is better than his final two seasons with the Bombers. He’s still hitting 45%+ ground balls; his flyball (as well as infield flyball) rates are mostly static.
Yet, his BABIP is down and not just a little. Abreu’s career BABIP is .343 and he’s never held a BABIP below .300 – heck, below .320 – during a full season. All of which is to say that seeing his BABIP hovering just above .290 is a new scene indeed. Matt Swartz of Baseball Prospectus fame asked Angels fans to jog their memory on who received the shift most often. Nobody mentioned Abreu and a handful agreed that few (if any) Angels see unkind treatment from the defense.
So, if Abreu isn’t being shifted, then what explains his .248 BABIP on balls hit to right field? Here are his BABIP to right field on an annual basis since 2002:
Needless to point out, but this is his career low during that span. There is no shift in batted ball data to right field either. His groundball rates hold steadily above 60-65% throughout and even his line drive rates – say what you will about their accuracy or reliability – are mostly consistent as well. The only explanations I have are either that he’s just unlucky – which everyone hates as a reasoning but … — or that he’s hitting the ball differently, which is translating into easily fielded balls. That seems immeasurable (since what is an easily fielded ball objectively?), but that is all I can come up with.