A tale of two cities
October 4 2006
Since the 2005 All-Star break
Phillies fans have been wondering where all of Bobby Abreu's lost power
went. We can all rest easy. Apparently it was in New York.
Abreu had a big game last night as the Yankees jumped out to a 1-0 lead in their series with the Tigers. He went 2-for-4 with a double and four-RBI and the Yanks beat Detroit 8-4. It continues the offensive surge Abreu has seen since leaving the Phillies.
In 98 games with the Phillies this season, Abreu hit 277/427/434 in 339 at-bats with 25 doubles and eight home runs. His .434 slugging percentage was the lowest of any of his nine years with the Phillies. In 58 games with the Yankees, he tore it up to the tune of 330/419/507 in 209 at-bats, hitting seven home runs and driving in 42 runs. Abreu's numbers with the Phillies were certainly good this season, but with the Yankees he was even better. He hit .330 and refound his power stroke, slugging .507
Much has been made of the 2005 Home Run Derby and the Abreu's numbers after the contest. Abreu had a monster season in 2004 in which he hit 301/428/544 with 30 home runs and 105 RBI. It was his sixth straight year hitting at least 20 home runs, and he had slugged at least .500 in five of those six seasons. Abreu came out strong in '05 as well, he slugged .526 with 18 home runs before the All-Star break. He would slow dramatically after the break, however, slugging just .411 with six home runs the rest of the way. His power seemed down in 2006 as well, he hit just eight home runs in the first half of the season and went into the break slugging .467 as the Phillies wondered what had happened to their elite hitter turned walk machine.
If the Home Run Derby was what ruined Abreu's power swing, the trade to New York apparently was what fixed it. Abreu played his last game with the Phillies this season on July 28 against the Marlins, going 0-for-3 with a walk. He played his first game with the Yankees on August 1 and went 0-for-3 with a walk in New York against the Blue Jays. And then he took off. He went 14-for-his-next-31 with a home run and three doubles, walking just twice in those seven games. He struck out more and walked less with the Yankees. In August, his first full month with New York, he struck out 30 times, the most of any month this season. Perhaps most notably, Abreu walked in 13.3% of his plate appearances with New York and 20.8% of his plate appearances with the Phillies.
Regardless of what it all means, change in approach, a benefit of being a left-handed batter in an unreal lineup at Yankee stadium, or just a coincidence, the 209 at-bats Abreu got with the Yankees sure look a lot more like the Abreu Phillies fan's saw before the second half of the 2005 season. And while this may seem like an unfortunate coincidence to Phillies fans, it may be just that. While it would sure explain a lot if the Phils were simply cursed, it was the Phillies, not the Yankees, who got Abreu's best month this season. Bobby came out of the gate smoking hot, hitting 300/444/550 with four home runs in April. The Phillies, alas, couldn't do much with it, digging themselves into an enormous hole once again by starting the season 10-14.
In other playoff action from yesterday, the A's took a 1-0 lead on the Twins with a 3-2 win. Zito allowed just a run on four hits and three walks over eight innings and Frank Thomas went 3-for-4 with two solo shots to pace Oakland.
Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter led the Cardinals to a win in the first game of their series with the Padres. Pujols was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and Carpenter held the Padres to a single run in 6 1/3 innings. If you're looking for signs that might not bode particularly well for San Diego, they sent Mark Bellhorn and his .190 average from the regular season to the plate down 5-1 with one out and the bases loaded in the seventh. Didn't work out so well.
The big news out of Phillies camp is that Charlie Manuel will be back to manage the Phillies again for the 2007 season. Bench coach Gary Varsho, first-base coach Marc Bombard and third-base coach Bill Dancy all will not be returning. Other members of the coaching staff, hitting coach Milt Thompson, pitching coach Rich Dubee, bullpen coach Ramon Henderson and catching instructor Mick Billmeyer will be back for next season.