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« Five Years for Victorino? | Main | Can Jacoby Ellsbury Keep Slugging? »

Bobby Abreu's Lefty Woes

While's he's not a happy spring camper, Bobby Abreu seems now seems resigned to a more limited role with the Angels in 2012. Abreu said last week that he would rather be traded than become a part-time player, but there's not much of a market for a soon-to-be-38-year-old owed $9 million who shouldn't go near a glove or step in the batter's box against lefty pitching.

Once one of the game's chronically underappreciated superstars, Abreu has racked up about as much career value (59 Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement) as Mike Piazza, Vlad Guerrero, Dave Winfield and Sammy Sosa. The current version of Abreu, however, isn't near as potent. He still has his trademark patience, swinging at the third-lowest rate of pitches thrown outside of the strike zone among MLB hitters in 2011, but his power is kaput. And that's especially the case against fellow left-handers:

Abreu's 2009-11 platoon splits

Pitcher HandAVGOBPSLUGPlate Appearances
Vs Left .245 .321 .339 574
Vs Right .278 .384 .447 1345


He's still able to inflict some damage against righties, but he's bullied by lefties. The major problem for Abreu versus lefties is ground balls. He hit a grounder 44% of the time against right-handers over the past three years, but 56% versus southpaws. Take a look at Abreu's ground ball rate by pitch location against lefties, compared to the average lefty hitter. He's an automatic ground out on low pitches, but he also chops high offerings into the grass:

Abreu's ground ball rate by pitch location vs. left-handed pitching, 2009-11

Average ground ball rate by pitch location for left-handed hitters vs. left-handed pitchers, 2009-11

Considering that the Angels have Mike Trout near ready in the outfield and DH options like Kendrys Morales (if his ankle is healed) and Mark Trumbo, there's little reason for Abreu to see much time against lefties. Four-hundred plate appearances might not be what he wants, but that's what he should get at this late point in his excellent career.

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