When Jose Abreu was signed, he was not only given the largest contract ever given to a Cuban player, but also the largest contract of any international player outside of Japan. Abreu was expected to become one of the top Cuban players in the major leagues, joining the likes of Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes and Aroldis Chapman. In fact, it was thought that he could even surpass all the other Cuban players, becoming the standard bearer for Cuban baseball.
One month into the season, and the Legend of Jose Abreu seems to only be beginning. While he is a rookie strictly in the sense that this is his first season in the major leagues, Abreu is already setting records. He already surpassed the rookie marks for home runs (10) and RBIs (32) over the first month in a season, a mark that happened to be held by Albert Pujols. His ability to hammer the ball into the stratosphere have already led some wonder if Abreu is already the best power hitter in all of baseball.
Yes, we have seen players come up and produce like this before. The immortal Kevin Maas and Shane Spencer each hit ten home runs within their first 75 major league at bats before flaming out. Baseball history is littered with players who had a torrid month or two, and perhaps even a great rookie season, before fading back to mediocrity and being remembered for their brief moment of glory. What is to say that Abreu will not follow the same path?
That could depend on how well Jose Abreu can adjust. According to Brooks Baseball, Abreu has been very aggressive at the plate, but has displayed a solid batting eye when it comes to fastballs and offspeed pitches. However, against breaking pitches, Abreu tends to swing and miss at a high rate while displaying a poor batting eye. As major league pitchers begin to realize that potential weakness in Abreu, they will likely begin to exploit it even more.
Even before he jumped to the majors, there were concerns about how Abreu would fare against a good breaking ball. One scout told ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick last year that Abreu looked “confused” against those types of pitches, suggesting that he could spend some time in the minors to work on being able to hit those pitches.
Jose Abreu’s ability to adjust is going to be key to what type of future he has. Should Abreu begin to start hitting breaking pitches at a decent rate, or at least laying off those pitches outside the zone, then his future certainly would be brighter. If not, Abreu could end up like Maas, Spencer and the other one hit wonders, doomed by a fatal flaw that they just could not overcome.