Fantasy Baseball 2018: Why isn’t Jose Abreu ranked higher?

White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu has been one of the most consistent plays for all of his career. Why isn’t he ranked higher than a fourth-round pick?

The Chicago White Sox are clearly rebuilding for the future. After finishing fourth in the American League Central for four straight seasons, the team needs a lot of improvements. There is one spot that the White Sox are solid and it’s first base. Jose Abreu has been consistent since joining the league in 2014. Yet, he doesn’t seem to get the love from fantasy baseball experts.

Abreu posted a 36 HR/107 RBI/.317 season in his first year and it only improved from there. In his most recent season, he played in 156 games. Abreu hit another 33 home runs with 102 RBI and a .304 average.

He was a fifth-round pick in ESPN leagues this year, 46.9 ADP. He had a bit of a down year in 2016, 25 HR/100 RBI/.293, so it makes sense that he dropped some. Abreu bounced back and finished No. 32 overall on the Player Rater. If he made our rankings based on that, he would be an early third-round pick. Yet, he is still ranked at the end of the fourth round. Why?

Of the 41 batters that hit at least 30 home runs, only 19 reached 100 RBI. Just five first basemen, including Abreu, posted 30/100 seasons. The others were Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, Ryan Zimmerman and Joey Votto.

Looking at that list, there is at least one that I expect not to repeat that performance, making Abreu one of four players we can rely on for 30 home runs and 100 RBI.

Abreu did see a drop in his walk rate, 6.8 to 5.2 percent. He did lower his strikeout rate, though, 18.0 to 17.6 percent. He also turned more line drives into fly balls and that improved his HR/FB rate by three percent from 2016 to 2017.

I also enjoy seeing the five-percent drop in soft hit and eight percent increase in his hard-hit rates. Abreu isn’t swinging at many pitches out of the strike zone is taking more pitches.

As we prepare for 2018, it’s important to know where a certain player will land in drafts. Goldschmidt, Rizzo and Votto rank in the top five. Freddie Freeman joins the list. The fifth spot is now up for debate. It could either be rookie sensation Bellinger or four-year player Abreu.

Bellinger has a solid cast around him to help drive in runs and protect him in the lineup. He did post a lower batting average, .267, but the power is clearly there. Abreu doesn’t have the same level of support and I just went over his numbers.

If Abreu falls to the fourth, or even fifth, round, that is a steal. I do like to invest in players with a narrow range of outcomes. For example, should you draft a player that can either go for 38 HR/110 RBI or 28/95 in a season or a player that could hit 35/105 or 30/100 in a season? The latter, you’re right. Jose Abreu is that second player. He needs to be drafted higher than the fourth round.