Mar 2, 2023; Jupiter, Florida, USA; Houston Astros third baseman Jose Abreu (79) bats in the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to Gallery Sports’ Houston Astros Spring Training player spotlight: Astros Player of the Day. We will look at a different Astros player each day throughout the spring.
Today’s Astros Player of the Day is first baseman José Abreu.
Abreu is a Cuban and international baseball legend and among the greatest and most decorated international players of all time.
After winning the Cuban National Series MVP in 2012, he was a member of the Cuban World Baseball Classic team in 2013. Abreu defected later that year and would join the Chicago White Sox for the 2014 season, winning the American League Rookie of the Year award, the Silver Slugger award, and finished fourth in MVP voting, hitting .317 with 36 HRs and 107 RBIs. His .581 slugging percentage led MLB.
Abreu has since gone on to be one of the most consistent run producers of the last decade, driving in at least 100 runs six times in eight full seasons, and leading MLB with 60 RBIs in the 2020 pandemic-shortened 60-game season. He also led MLB in slugging in 2020 with a .617 mark and won the AL MVP.
With a ROY, MVP, three All-Star appearances, and three Silver Sluggers, Abreu has been one of the most feared hitters in the American League.
Now 36 and coming off a season with a career-low 15 home runs, Abreu left Chicago and signed with the Astros, replacing fan favorite Yuli Gurriel.
Abreu and Gurriel have a history together, as both were elite Cuban players who defected and became successful major leaguers. Gurriel’s production declined sharply in 2022 after winning the batting title in 2021, and he is turning 39 in June. Even though he only hit 15 home runs in 2022, Abreu hit .304 with an .824 OPS, thanks to 40 doubles.
As a right-handed power hitter, Abreu should feast on the short porch Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid Park.
Abreu is also long known as a leader in the clubhouse and a tremendously respected player, especially in the international community.
Surrounded by better talent, and working with a manager players historically love in Dusty Baker as opposed to the abrasive Tony LaRussa for most of the last two years in Chicago, it would not be a surprise if Abreu had a resurgence at the plate this season.
The one thing missing from Abreu’s resume is a World Series championship. With a host of individual awards along with a gold medal and silver medal in international play, while representing Cuba, he knows the tremendous opportunity in front of him with the reigning World Champions. The Astros have been to six straight American League Championship Series and four of the last six World Series. Abreu has never won an MLB postseason series, losing in the Wild Card round to the Oakland A’s in 2020 and the Divisional Round to the Astros in 2021.
As terrific as Abreu is offensively, he is suspect with the glove at first base. He is among the worst defensive first baseman in the American League by metrics and posted a league-worst -4 defensive runs saved at his position in 2019.
Abreu will never be confused with Gurriel defensively, but with the scent of his first title in the air, don’t be surprised by a resurgent Abreu at the plate giving the Astros some much-needed thump in the lineup and high RBI production.