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Cullen: Abreu crushing for the White Sox

Scott Cullen
4/28/2014 5:36:48 PM
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White Sox rookie first baseman Jose Abreu came to major league baseball with some hype, as many Cubans do, but there wasn't any expectation for the kind of first month that he's enjoying.

27-years-old with a power-hitter's build (listed at 6-foot-3, 255 pounds), Abreu has roared into the majors, with 10 home runs, 31 RBI, a .262 batting average and .962 OPS in his first 26 games.

As with any one-month sample, these numbers aren't sustainable, but what is fair to expect from Abreu?

For one thing, his batting average on balls in play is .246, which is well below average, so it would be fair to expect his batting average to go up as a few more balls fall in, but he's also had a major-league best 33.3% of his flyballs leave the park, which isn't going to hold. Over the past five seasons, there have been two seasons in which a player finished with more than 27% of his flyballs turning into home runs -- Adam Dunn in 2012 (29.3%) and Chris Davis in 2013 (29.6%) -- so Abreu is most likely to fall off his current 62-home run pace. No, seriously.

What will bear watching with Abreu is how pitcher's adjust to him as he makes his way through the league. He swings at a lot of pitches out of the strike zone and he's already seeing among thelowest percentage of strikes when he's at the plate, so pitchers are learning.

It's also interesting to note that, thus far, while Abreu destroys fastballs and sliders, he's struggled with change-ups. If that's the scouting report, surely he'll start seeing more change-ups, if just to affect his timing. At this point, 14.5% of the pitches Abreu has faced have been change-ups; it will be interesting to see if that number increases over the next month or more.

None of this anticipated regression should come as a surprise, merely as a caution. Baseball tends to catch up to sluggers, especially ones that are willing to expand their strike zone by swinging freely.

GOOD ADDS (available in at least 40% of TSN leagues)

Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit - 3 HR, 13 RBI, .258 AVG, 7 R, 66 AB (Available: 71.6%)

Dioner Navarro, C, Toronto - 1 HR, 14 RBI, .309 AVG, 11 R, 81 AB (Available: 89.6%)

Alberto Callaspo, 3B/2B, Oakland - 3 HR, 13 RBI, .272 AVG, 9 R, 81 AB (Available: 74.6%)

Casey McGehee, 3B, Miami - 0 HR, 16 RBI, .287 AVG, 5 R, 94 AB (Available: 75.8%)

Dillon Gee, RHP, N.Y. Mets - 2-1, 2.88 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 27 K, 40 2/3 IP (Available: 65.7%)

Ian Kennedy, RHP, San Diego - 2-3, 3.16 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 37 K, 37 IP (Available: 76.2%)

CLOSER NOTES

The Angels have demoted Ernesto Frieri, leaving side-arming veteran Joe Smith for the role. Smith, 30, recorded the first three saves of his career last season for Cleveland. While he's not the classic fire-balling closer, Smith has managed to miss bats this year, striking out 11 in 10 innings, the best rate of his career.

Pirates closer Jason Grilli is on the DL with a strained oblique. Mark Melancon, who has 37 career saves, takes over. Melancon has been really good for the Pirates over the past couple seasons, posting a 1.41 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 84 games, striking out 79 in 83 innings. If the Pirates are in position to win games, Melancon is qualified to close them out.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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