Just two months ago I sat in the living room of an off-campus house I rented with a few of my friends watching the Mets lose (well maybe not, but probably). My friend Mark turned to me and said, “You know who the Mets should sign? Bobby Abreu.”
“They actually did a few days ago,” I replied, then we both burst into laughter, me more out of pity, and him out of astonishment that he actually guessed that.
“I didn’t even know Bobby Abreu was still playing,” he said.
“He isn’t,” I said.
What were the Mets thinking? Didn’t they know he got released by the Phillies of all teams? The one team who it would’ve made sense for him to do his comeback tour on didn’t even want him?
And here we are two months later, and Abreu is batting .308/.385/.462 through his first 91 plate appearances. He has elite walk and strikeout rate stats, his .154 ISO is more than respectable for a 40 year old, his .371 wOBA is the higher than any other full season wOBA he’s posted since a .369 clip in 2008 with the Yankees, and his batted ball profiles indicate that this performance is somewhat sustainable going forward.
So where did the Mets go right with Abreu?
In his prime, Abreu was a special player. He could hit for average, had elite on base ability, and had plus power and speed. From 1998-2006, Abreu posted a sub-.400 OBP one time – in 2001 when he had a .393 OBP, and that was completely BABIP-driven.
Even as his abilities waned in his years with the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers, he never finished a season with an OBP less than .350.
So why, in an age where on base skills are so highly thought of did 29 teams pass on Abreu?
The prospect of signing a 40 year old who did not play last year and can’t play adequate defense is a scary proposition, but is it really not worth the veteran minimum just to take a flier on a guy who could be a decent part time player?
The answer is a simple one: Nobody – likely not even Sandy Alderson – could have imagined Abreu coming back and playing this well.
Sometimes baseball is predictable, and others, Bobby Abreu has outperformed David Wright in nearly every single offensive category.
Just another reason they say you can’t predict baseball.
Joe Vasile is the voice of the Fayetteville SwampDogs.