The Outlook Isn’t So Good for Yuli Gurriel

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Yuli Gurriel has played professional baseball around the world, suiting up in Cuba and Japan before making his way to MLB. Yet since moving stateside, Gurriel has worn just one uniform, and it still seems strange to think of him wearing any colors other than blue, orange, and white. In seven years with the Houston Astros, he won a Gold Glove, four American League pennants, and two World Series championships. Someday, he’ll earn a plaque in the Astros Hall of Fame. In 2023, however, he’s hoping to prolong his big-league career with a new ball club.

Astros GM Dana Brown has professed a tad bit of interest in re-signing Gurriel, although that supposed interest may have been a gesture of respect rather than a genuine expression of desire. With José Abreu at first base and Michael Brantley as the DH, there isn’t room for Gurriel in Houston’s starting lineup. He could take a spot on the bench, displacing David Hensley, but Gurriel would likely prefer more guaranteed playing time and the Astros might prefer to see what Hensley has to offer.

Per the Miami Herald, the Marlins made an offer to Gurriel earlier this winter, but the veteran was hesitant to accept. The Fish eventually nixed the deal, although the Herald’s report suggests they could still invite Gurriel to camp as a non-roster invitee. Perhaps he should have taken the guaranteed cash when it was still on the table. The Twins, another club linked to the first baseman this offseason, recently came to terms with Donovan Solano. Presumably, Solano took the roster spot and the salary that might have otherwise gone to Gurriel.

Spring training is now well underway, and Gurriel’s options are dwindling. Most teams with room for a veteran first base bat have already found their guy: the Reds nabbed Wil Myers, the Cubs picked Eric Hosmer, and the Athletics took a chance on Jesús Aguilar. At this point, it’s unlikely Gurriel will find a team willing to offer him regular at-bats, and he may have to settle for a minor league deal. It’s a disappointing outcome for a player just one year removed from winning the AL batting title and putting up a career-best 132 wRC+. So how did Gurriel get to this point?

The 2022 season was a tough one for Gurriel. In 584 PA, he was worth -0.9 WAR, the lowest figure among qualified hitters. Once heralded as a five-tool player, Gurriel was a shell of his former self. His bat was mediocre, his power was lacking, his baserunning was poor, and his defense was lousy – in other words, his toolbox was empty. In 2021, Gurriel gave fans hope that he could buck the aging curve. Last year, however, his 38 years caught up to him.

Gurriel’s Baseball Savant page provides a good preliminary explanation of what went wrong. His barrel rate dropped, his hard-hit rate dropped, and – you guessed it – his average exit velocity dropped too. He wasn’t hitting the ball as hard as he used to, so he wasn’t getting as many hits. Yet the problem was more localized than that. On groundballs and line drives, his average EV and HardHit% were both close to his career averages. But on fly balls, his quality of contact took a major hit:

Gurriel’s Exit Velocity
Year(s) Avg. EV on FB Avg. EV on GB Avg. EV on LD
2016-2021 89.3 89.8 93.5
2022 87.5 89.2 93.7
via Baseball Savant

Gurriel’s HardHit%
Year(s) HardHit% on FB HardHit% on GB HardHit% on LD
2016-2021 28.5% 47.7% 55.3%
2022 15.4% 43.1% 59.3%
via Baseball Savant

With that in mind, it’s no surprise Gurriel’s production on fly balls suffered in 2022:

Gurriel’s Production on Batted Balls
Year(s) wRC+ on FB wRC+ on GB wRC+ on LD
2016-2021 89 64 332
2022 20 46 361

In case you’re wondering, that’s not a typo. Gurriel really did have a 20 wRC+ on fly balls last season. For comparison, the league average was 131. The Astros first baseman hit 194 fly balls and only managed a hit on 26 of them. Only 21 went for extra bases. On groundballs and line drives, Gurriel was perfectly fine. His performance on grounders was down relative to his career numbers but was still comfortably above average. His performance on liners was actually his best in years. On top of that, he outperformed the average hitter on balls not in play too, thanks to his minuscule strikeout rate. In other words, he was better than average when it came to three of four possible outcomes – groundballs, line drives, and balls not in play – but he performed so dreadfully on fly balls that it dragged his numbers down to the basement.

This isn’t entirely new. Fly balls have always been Gurriel’s weakness. These are his career numbers compared to the AL average since he entered the league:

Gurriel vs. League Average
Hitter wRC+ on FB wRC+ on GB wRC+ on LD wRC+ on NIP
Yuli Gurriel 76 61 337 59
League Average 140 31 346 20

Gurriel has never been a major home run threat, but he’s always had just enough pop that his other skills were sufficient to compensate. In 2022, he was still good at the things he did well, but he was worse than ever at what he already did poorly. No longer could his other skills pick up the slack.

To make matters worse, Gurriel’s problems at the plate were exacerbated by bad plate discipline. The man is a bat-to-ball machine; he rarely strikes out and almost never whiffs. However, that doesn’t mean he has a good eye at the plate. He swings more than the average hitter at pitches outside the zone and less than the average hitter at pitches inside the zone. The result has always been a high contact rate but an equally low walk rate.

Then, in 2021, Gurriel made a notable effort to improve his plate discipline without sacrificing contact. He swung less often, particularly at pitches outside the strike zone. He posted a career-high contact rate and a career-low swinging strike rate. His first-pitch strike percentage was better than average for the very first time. Accordingly, he walked more than twice as often as he did in the first five years of his career. He led the AL with a 0.87 walk-to-strikeout ratio, and his .383 OBP was second only to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s. It’s no wonder he posted such excellent offensive numbers, including the highest wRC+ of his career.

All that progress went out the window in 2022. Gurriel’s swing and o-swing rates jumped back up to where they once were. His walk rate fell in response. Moreover, since Gurriel rarely whiffs, he ended up making a ton of contact on pitches outside the strike zone. In other words, he was making more contact on less hittable pitches. Pitches in the strike zone that were put in play last season had a .379 wOBA. Pitches from outside the strike zone that were put in play had a .292 wOBA. It makes sense – when a batter hits bad pitches, he’s more likely to make bad contact. That’s exactly what happened to Gurriel, who had a .317 wOBA on balls put in play from inside the zone and a .250 wOBA on balls put in play from outside the strike zone. Therefore, not only did Gurriel’s walk rate plummet, but his quality of contact worsened thanks to his poor approach at the plate.

To sum it all up, Gurriel’s biggest weakness – his lack of power – became an even bigger problem last season. Meanwhile, the newfound plate discipline that briefly helped him defy the aging curve completely disappeared. He still possesses elite contact skills, but those skills are far less valuable when he’s swinging at worse pitches and hitting without thump.

It’s easy to point to Gurriel’s 2021 season and identify the 38-year-old as a prime bounce-back candidate. Unfortunately, his performance in 2022 doesn’t leave much room for optimism. Gurriel has had an excellent big league career, and one that could have been all the more impressive had he made his way to the majors sooner. Yet as he enters his age-39 season, there’s a reason teams have been hesitant to offer him a guaranteed role. Thus, if Gurriel wants to get back on the field, a minor league contract might be his best bet. If the Marlins are still calling, he’d be wise to pick up the phone.





Leo is a writer for FanGraphs and an editor for Just Baseball. His work has also been featured at Baseball Prospectus, Pitcher List, and SB Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @morgensternmlb.

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Ivan_Grushenkomember
11 months ago

To me he has a HoF case because he was stuck in Cuba during his best years when he was one of the best players in the world. The current criteria don’t value that though

baubo
11 months ago
Reply to  Ivan_Grushenko

Not just that, but his batting style would’ve been very fun to watch against the 3 true outcome type of hitting that was prevalent in MLB at the time. Felt like he would’ve had a Vlad type of career.

Unfortunately he’s likely to just done now. The fact that the Astros, who have for years stuck with him through his ups and downs, have moved on is probably the biggest indictment of where he’s at right now.

kingharbaughmember
11 months ago
Reply to  Ivan_Grushenko

He does not have a HOF case at all. He has put up 10 WAR in 7 seasons. His peak would have had to have been one of the best of all time to get him to even 50 WAR.

Trevor May Care Attitude
11 months ago
Reply to  kingharbaugh

Jose Abreu is the Cuban from their generation with a real dark-horse HOF case. He stepped right into the Bigs at 27 and was immediately one of the best hitters in baseball. He came back down to earth a bit subsequently, but with what we know about hitters’ aging curves peaking at 25-26, he might’ve missed out on 2 or more comparable-or-better years. It’s not far-fetched to imagine him coming up at 20 and putting up over 25 WAR before his MLB career actually began. Even if you mark him down for 20 bWAR in those lost years, he’d be sitting on 52 bWAR now. That’s not a super-strong number, but I think it’s a conservative estimate and would still garner him some HOF support.

Last edited 11 months ago by Trevor May Care Attitude
TKDCmember
11 months ago

So, “conservatively,” he would be Freddie Freeman, except for the whole thing where Freeman has been much better from age 27 onward.

Since 1992, there have been only 4 first baseman to have 20+ WAR by age 26. Pujols and Miggy are the only ones with more than Freeman’s 21.5 WAR (the 4th is Frank Thomas at 20.4 WAR, but he’d have 30 if 1990-91 were included).

Also since 1992, Abreu ranks 21st in WAR among first baseman for ages 27-35, just behind Fred McGriff. He has not done anything to suggest that we actually did miss one of the great hitters of all time because he was stuck in Cuba.

If it could be shown that a player really was likely one of the very best, based on how they played in the US compared to players only looking at the same ages, I think that should be a factor in HOF close calls. But that’s not this. This is conjecture without the facts to back it up.

It’s kinda funny that there’s really only been one case where this rule could’ve applied, which was with Ichiro, but he just went ahead and had a hall-worthy career without even having to make that consideration.

Trevor May Care Attitude
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Pujols had over 45 WAR through his age 26 season. That would mean Abreu would’ve needed less than 40% of Albert’s output to be at the 52 WAR I conjectured without facts (because there are no stats for those years). I also suggested that, due to what we know about aging curves, his best years might’ve been mostly behind him when he arrived. It’s possible; different careers have different arcs. It’s most certainly conjecture, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility, and to say he has no case goes too far, imo. It would be more of a McGriff-like case than a Pujols-like case, but it’s worth considering, I think. Some will summarily throw the case out, as you did with gusto, but I think the unknown is worth probing with a charitable eye, in this case.

Trevor May Care Attitude
11 months ago

I also wouldn’t limit the comparisons solely to first basemen. Maybe expand the pool to all sluggers in order to see if this is a career arc that happens from time to time. Ralph Kiner is a good exemplar of the type — over 24 bWAR through age 26. He was by no means a lock as a HOF case, but he made it in. Again, to say there’s no case at all or suggest that Abreu putting up 20 WAR through age 26 is ludicrous doesn’t sit right with me. You think it’s unlikely. Maybe so, but he’s been remarkably consistent after a clear peak as a rookie at 27. It looks like it could be the decline phase of what might’ve otherwise been a borderline HOF career.

Last edited 11 months ago by Trevor May Care Attitude
TKDCmember
11 months ago

I’m just saying that projecting 20 WAR in this make-believe world is not conservative at all. And I personally don’t believe large assumptions should be made in this type of case.

His time in the U.S., only measured against players the same age, suggests he’s not a hall of famer. And I no more summarily dismissed his case than you’ve summarily endorsed it. I took the time to look at what he’s done and compared it to a fair look at his contemporaries.

That, when applied to what I believe is a fair evaluation for foreign players who come to the U.S. at advanced ages, puts him squarely behind even a large hall standard.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Citing a player who peaked from 26-32 is such a hilariously poor response to the premise that Abreu may have come over after his prime that I honestly have to wonder whether you even read the initial comment, haha.

TKDCmember
11 months ago

You really have an astonishing ability to always be a douche bag. I don’t know how you do it, haha lol.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Oh…sweetie…

Are you still sore because I said that Beltran would be no-doubt, shoe-in, First Ballot HoF if he weren’t a fucking cheater?

RonnieDobbs
11 months ago

The PED HOF is pretty badass. I won’t call them cheaters. Are you sure that the real HOFis not largely the hall of didn’t get caughts or the hall of that advantage is not arbitrarily considered cheating.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

I’m deeply sorry that he cracked 50% as a known fucking cheater, because his statistical case is so unambiguous from both a traditional and SABR perspective.

Must have done nightmares for the aul’ self-esteem.

Last edited 11 months ago by Cool Lester Smooth
TKDCmember
11 months ago

I should add that the only reason he ranks “just behind” McGriff is because McGriff’s age 27 season was in 1991 so wasn’t captured here. And of course McGriff had his top 3 seasons by WAR in 88-90 (in MLB) and also had more WAR post-35 than Abreu is likely to achieve.

The only way Abreu’s case even comes close to approaching McGriff’s is if you really give him a ton of credit for what he did in Cuba, where he spent most of his ABs against non-MLB quality pitchers.

Look, perhaps a player in Cuba is a sadder story than a player in Japan, but we don’t put guys in the hall of fame just because they were amazing in Japan and then above average in the U.S. How can Abreu get some special treatment when Hideki Matsui, who absolutely crushed much better completion in Japan before coming over and being an above average player even though at 29 he was likely past his prime. His Hall over? 0.9 percent. About what Abreu will deserve unless he “ages” like Barry Bonds.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

…maybe it’s because Matsui produced fewer than half as much WAR in his 10 full MLB seasons as Abreu has in his 8 seasons and 60 games?

Or because juicing Matsui’s NPB stats to match the delta that Abreu saw moving from the CNS would still leave his 19-28 numbers drastically worse than Abreu’s?

TKDCmember
11 months ago

In your world 31.2 is more than double 21.9. I mean, you can’t possibly be making a case for Abreu no using rWAR, or are you just so shook realizing how right I am and how much of an imbecile you are?
I really though the time I spent volunteering helping children learn how to read was my most important charitable work, but teaching you what reality is might top that.
I assume the next thing you say will be incredibly stupid (such as pretending Cuba and Japan are the same, I mean, seriously?), because you’re obviously incapable of anything else. It’s really remarkable that you seem to think you’ve made any real point while being the stupidest person to ever post here. Shocking behavior. Like, you’re Leo’s character in Shutter Island-level deluded.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

I assume the next taek will be “Why does anyone think he would have been better than Aaron Judge from 21-24, when he was way worse from 27-30???????”

Keep it up, champ.

Last edited 11 months ago by Cool Lester Smooth
TKDCmember
11 months ago

I wish there were a member benefit that let you ignore morons like you.

Dag Gummit
11 months ago

I also suggested that, due to what we know about aging curves, his best years might’ve been mostly behind him when he arrived

Abreu’s first MLB season was at age-27. If his best years were behind him, that means he’d past his peak before 95% of players start theirs.

Please start being fair to the man and stop deifying him. He has been a very good hitter — but definitively *NOT* “one of the best in baseball” through his late-start career. There is no metric that can be manipulated and twisted to put him at the level you herald. Let’s investigate them.

I will use 4500 PA from 2014-2022 as the cut-off; arbitrarily chosen to be the closest I could to 1 player per MLB team; coming out to 35 total players (). Of those 35 players, Abreu ranks:

  • 12th in wRC+ at 133 (best all-around placing). The four players closest to him have been Betts (136), Rizzo (135), Donaldson, and Yelich (130). ~130 wRC is indeed a very good wRC+; especially over a 9-year span. However, he’s the 12th best pure bat… when he’s nothing but a bat:
  • 5th WORST in Defensive value. He is, after all, not a very good 1B. His bat has made up for it to make him a consistent AS-challenging-caliber player at…
  • 16th in total fWAR — straight into the middle of the pack thanks to his recurring ‘borderline-AS’ quality, embodied by…
  • 1 season >4.5 WAR
  • 2 seasons at 3.5-4.4 WAR
  • 1 season (2020 having to be excluded) at 2.0-3.4 WAR, and…
  • 3 seasons below 2 WAR

Overall, he is indeed in the middle of a mostly very good pack of longterm players. It, however, also illustrates how he is *NOT* a Mike Trout-level hitter (only in hitter value; not even touching everything else)… or Goldschmidt/ Freeman/ Harper-level hitter (the 1B/ COF bats he should be comparable to in order to fit your inappropriate “one of the best in baseball” label; as noted by your assertion of him being somehow “better” than Freeman)… or even the Altuve/ Nelson Cruz/ Votto bats. No, he’s in the middle of a group of mostly very good players.

Appropriate for a player who, by any empirical judgement, would be called a mostly very good player (good even for 1B bat with a poor even for 1B glove). Accumulating ~27 WAR in 9 years is hard.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  Dag Gummit

…but the hypothetical is, specifically, based on whether Abreu, as an individual, peaked from 21-25, and isn’t getting any credit for that greatness (not to mention being great from 18-20).

For reference: Mike Trout put up 54 fWAR through 25, and he’s put up 19 since.

Last edited 11 months ago by Cool Lester Smooth
RonnieDobbs
11 months ago
Reply to  Dag Gummit

Abreu is better than he will get credit for being. He is not a defensive guy or a base-runner and he doesn’t walk a lot. The guy rakes though which is what baseball has always been about.I think there is an off chance that in a decade some new metric gets hyped up and guys like Abreu will pop. Modern WAR is terrible – it is only a matter of time until this gets realized.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Oh. Oh, wow.

A Freeman comp is an impressively backwards response.

To clarify:

Abreu’s HoF case rests on the assumption that he ISN’T a massive outlier like Freddie Freeman, and his ability followed normal aging curves rather than becoming a completely different hitter and player at age 26.

His supporters think that during the three year run where he hit 98 bombs in 232 games (A 68.4/162 pace) while batting .412 BA with a .561 OBP, he was probably closer to his age-27 form (.313/.383/.581, after a yearlong layoff following his defection) than the .289/.375/.472 line Freeman put up at the same ages.

darren
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Not to agree or disagree with your conclusions overall, but there is some evidence that Abreu’s time in Cuba was HOF worthy. His Davenport translations were eye-popping for about his last 4 years there. For example, his 2010-11 translated to .358/.468/.754. Large caveats obviously apply, but there is at least a reason to think he had a good HOF case.

TKDCmember
11 months ago
Reply to  darren

And if he actually looked like a hall of famer while in the U.S. compared to other players his same age, this would be a compelling “last hurdle” or “feather in cap” to put him over the top. He was absolutely amazing in Cuba and definitely deserves to be in the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame. If there were some “World Baseball Hall of Fame,” he’d also have a very good case. But in the U.S., even if you don’t penalize him at all (and it’s not so much penalizing him as it is rewarding players who played in MLB prior to age 27), he doesn’t look like a hall of famer.

Past that, if you’re a person who DOES want to just play the conversion game straight up and then treat his pre-age-27 accomplishments as equivalent for HOF purposes, I believe a statement that him earning 20 WAR would be a conservative estimate is belied by how few first baseman have done that. He could have had 20. He could have 10, 15, 25.

Because of my beliefs about non-U.S. baseball accomplishments effect on hall worthiness, I don’t have to grapple with these unknowables. But if I were, it sure would be hard for me to grant so much semi-imaginary credit to a player especially when his comparisons when he did eventually come to MLB we’re not as impressive.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

He was better at the plate after taking a full year off than Freddie Freeman has ever been in a full season.

Shit, if you knock the same OPS number off Abreu’s 20-25 seasons as the career gap between Yuli’s MLB and Serie Nacional numbers, it comes out to a .999 OPS.

If you use Abreu’s own, it comes to a 1.029 OPS, over those 5 years.

…and he had a .964 OPS in his first season over.

68FCmember
11 months ago

The question kind of becomes why Abreu never got close to his 2014 production (outside of 2020) again. Was it because MLB pitchers got a better scouting report on him and were able to better exploit his weaknesses and turn him from a great hitter to merely a very good hitter, or was it because his peak was over by age 28 and the rest of his career was his decline phase?

If it was the league adjusting to him, then if he had been in the big leagues at 21, he presumably would have had that monster first season then spent the rest of his career as basically the guy we’ve seen (who to be clear is still a great player and likely would have been a borderline HOFer). If it is just that he got to the states just as his peak was ending, then we are talking about a likely 1st ballot kind of guy. Ultimately we will never know the answer, but it is fun to speculate.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  68FC

I 1,000,000% agree, on all fronts!

The core premise of Abreu’s HoF case is, as stated above: “What if Abreu had a crazy peak from 21-27, and 6 of those years came while he couldn’t play in the MLB.”

We genuinely can’t know how the embargo impacted Abreu’s career…but I’m certainly more inclined to use the Davenport numbers as a proxy than to throw a hissyfit at the suggestion that this hypothetical prime might have exceeded the performance of historically notable late bloomer at the same age.

68FCmember
11 months ago

For what it’s worth, Freeman wasn’t really a late bloomer, he was posting a 150 wRC+ at age 23 and has been a pretty consistent player since then. He was kinda the same player at age 24 that he was a 31, he’s had a few bigger seasons, but they are distributed fairly evenly over the last decade.

As for Abreu, the 20 WAR from ages 21-26 would pretty much just be him playing at his age 28-35 (so excluding his big rookie year) level.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  68FC

I’m really talking about that that 26-30 run where he had a .250 ISO, racking up 8 more WAR in 80 fewer games than he had from 21-25.

68FCmember
11 months ago

Because you got me looking at it, if you order their seasons by wRC+ over 130 (ignoring their 2020 MVP years) between Abreu and Freeman it goes,

  1. 2014 Abreu
  2. 2022 Freeman
  3. 2016 Freeman
  4. 2013 Freeman
  5. 2017 Freeman
  6. 2014 Freeman
  7. 2017 Abreu
  8. 2022 Abreu (tie)
  9. 2019 Freeman (tie)
  10. 2018 Freeman
  11. 2021 Freeman
  12. 2015 Freeman
  13. 2015 Abreu
Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  68FC

Yep – it’s really annoying that this bloody weirdo has me arguing against Freddie’s awesomeness.

Dude’s improvement in his late 20s is truly incredible.

As in, the dictionary meaning, where I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen how awesome he’s become.

TKDCmember
11 months ago
Reply to  kingharbaugh

For more context, since 2006, he ranks 50th in WAR for ages 32-38. That includes plenty of people who were older than 32 in 2006 and others that are still younger than 38. He’s between now-36 Brandon Crawford (49th) and Randy Winn (51st).

Yes, he’s ahead of obvious future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera, but the vast majority of elected and future hall of famers do much much better age 32-38 than he has.

Abreu also doesn’t really stack up even just comparing him to other players after age 27. You know who does? Ichiro. He’s one of the very best players in modern history from age 27 onward. Ichiro has a good case as one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Of note he is second on this age 32-38 leaderboard behind Beltre.

68FCmember
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Abreu is 39th in post-1947 1B in fWAR between ages 27-35 behind guys like Youkilis and Adrian Gonzalez. The only HOFer I saw that was behind him was Orlando Cepeda. He is hurt disproportionately by having his MVP season in 2020, he was playing at a 7.8 fWAR pace, but only gets credit for 2.9. He only has 1 season over 5 fWAR and unlike Gurriel he played his traditional peak years in MLB.

Ryan
11 months ago
Reply to  68FC

Was he hurt by the shortened season or helped by it? Likely wouldn’t have kept up the pace over 162, 350 BABIP (.327 career) and 32.8 HR/FB% (18.7% career). Seasons before and after were unremarkable as well.

TKDCmember
11 months ago
Reply to  Ryan

The possibility of “losing” the MVP seemingly has to outweigh any additional WAR from a resume standpoint.

68FCmember
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Fair enough, I was just thinking about it in terms of his total WAR over the period relative to the historical comps. Even if his ROS performance was equivalent to 2021, the extra 1.5 WAR pushes him 6 spots up the list.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  68FC

Context for TKDC’s opinions on Abreu’s HoF chances should include the weeks he spent claiming that Beltran’s 400 bombs and 2700 hits meant that no traditional voter would have ever considered him as a viable candidate, even without the scandal.

TKDCmember
11 months ago

Context for Lester’s opinion should include the fact that he kicks puppies and his own mother thinks he is a crushing disappointment.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Oh. Honey.

I can link to your dissembling rants.

Maybe stop whining and start defending your asinine positions?

Narrator: TKDC continued whining, while offering no defense to claims like “I think Javier Vazquez was better than Cole Hamels, regardless of how much data indicates that pitchers DO impact batted ball outcomes!!!!!”

Last edited 11 months ago by Cool Lester Smooth
TKDCmember
11 months ago

I’m sorry that online and presumably in real life people tend to just walk away from conversations with you; maybe you should look inward? Do some soul searching on why you continue to be so insufferable? It’s not too late to win your mother’s love.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Oh, taking the piss out of jackasses who seem genuinely incapable of engaging with information that doesn’t align with their pre-existing assumptions is how I destress!

Helps me be friendly and charming in real life!

Thank you for your service.

TKDCmember
11 months ago

I honestly don’t know that anyone, anyone at all, has ever posted so many times without garnering even a small amount of support for any of the posts. You post again and again, with zero support, and somehow believe you’re the bee’s knees. Jesus Christ, say what you will, your lack of intelligence or wit has not affected your confidence!

68FCmember
11 months ago
Reply to  kingharbaugh

If you eliminate the 2016 season when he signed in July after defecting in February and was in the bigs 2 weeks later. Among post 1947 1B with 3,000+ PA from age 33 on, he is 21st of 33 qualifiers in fWAR. This list is about half HOFers and the stretch around Gurriel illustrates that he likely would have been a guy who is at least in the conversation. From #16-26 is, McGriff, McCovey, Votto, Julio Franco, Banks, Guerriel, Al Oliver, Giambi, Felipe Alou, Helton, and Konerko.

Most players who are producing in their mid to late 30s tend to have HOF cases. Just for reference, there are 27 post-1947 1B who had at least 40 fWAR through age 32 (which is the early career production Guerriel would have needed to reach 50 career WAR).

hairygrimmember
11 months ago
Reply to  kingharbaugh

I agree that there’s no HoF case here, but I think there may well have been had he played in MLB from an early age (with access to the requisite training etc.), without the adjustment period from the Cuban leagues.

darren
11 months ago
Reply to  kingharbaugh

Dan Szymborski does a nice job assessing both Gurriel’s and Abreu’s HOF cases in this article. To me, Abreu’s case looks very strong, as he racked up 433 HR despite many of his prime seasons in Cuba lasting only 90 games. ZIPS also is far less generous in its translations than Davenport is. For the 2010-11 season: ZIPS: .306/.433/.629; Davenport: .358/.468/.754.

Gurriel looks like a HOVG candidate.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  darren

Yup.

.200-.250 OPS seems like the gap between the CNS and the MLB (Rusney Castillo is at .202, Gurriel is at .248)

By either standard, Abreu’s FG page doesn’t give him credit for a five-year run where he averaged the equivalent of ~1.000 OPS, solely because he was born in the wrong place…not to mention the year he missed for the same reason.

(Cue the “Well, akshully” crowd)

darren
11 months ago

Other examples:

Cespedes was put up about a 1.050 OPS from ages 22-24 in Cuba then .861 in his first year in MLB and .824 overall.

Alexei Ramirez low-900s age 22-24 in Cuba, .792 first year, .700 overall in MLB.

Kendrys Morales 1.009 in Cuba ages 18-20, spent time in minors, .780 overall in MLB.

All reasonably close to that .200 to .250 range.

catmanwayne
11 months ago
Reply to  kingharbaugh

To be fair, he didn’t get his MLB chance until long after his peak seasons. He was 33 when he joined the Astros. It’s pretty tough for players to defect from Cuba, the process can take several years in some cases. What Ivan is alluding to is that if Yuli had been able to get out and join an MLB roster in his 20s, he probably would have had a case for the HoF.

RonnieDobbs
11 months ago
Reply to  kingharbaugh

WAR is an arbitrary measure of value. It always penalizes older players heavily because of defense.

Dmjn53
11 months ago
Reply to  Ivan_Grushenko

Being one of the Best players in the world is a pure hypothetical though. The fact is he came to the US and performed as a thoroughly average player, with stints of being above and well below average in between.

I just don’t think being a 111 wRC+ guy in his 30s means he would have been a 150 guy in his 20s. The fact is he’s looked like a very ordinary player next to major leaguers

Last edited 11 months ago by Dmjn53
sadtrombonemember
11 months ago
Reply to  Ivan_Grushenko

I clicked on this because I was wondering what on earth Gurriel could do that would stimulate this much conversation, and it turns out my skepticism is well founded.

As long as I’m here, my general rule-of-thumb is that the only numbers that “count” outside of MLB come from Japan. Maybe someday we will get a better sense of how to translate Korean or Cuban stats but we aren’t there yet.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Very reasonable.

But I do think we should appreciate that there’s only one big difference between Abreu’s 21-25 seasons and Josh Gibson’s:

Abreu had a higher OBP.

Last edited 11 months ago by Cool Lester Smooth
PC1970
11 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

So did I. I find the argument about Abreu’s HOF chances to be interesting though. I agree we shouldn’t use his Cuban #’s, but, the supposition about what if he came over at age 20, IS interesting.

Has 31.9rWAR in 9 years, starting at age 27. Had 4.2 rWAR last year & is signed for 3 more years. If he gets 8.1 rWAR in those 3 years, he’s at 40 from age 27 on (& assuming he’s done at the end of this contract). Give him 4-5 more years from age 21-26 & yeah, I can see it..IF he had played in MLB.

I could also see him (with MLB time from 21-26) getting in on a Veterans Committee vote. That would conceivably increase his counting stats to probably 400-450+ HR, 1500+ RBI, 2500+ hits, etc. & that’s without doing something subjective like assuming his peak was ages 21-26. Could see him getting the McGriff treatment, WAR be damned.

As it stands now, no way, but, the dicussion is interesting.

Last edited 11 months ago by PC1970
sadtrombonemember
11 months ago
Reply to  PC1970

There actually is a lot of precedent for letting people in, even though their numbers weren’t up to the standard, because they were barred from joining in one way or another. But it’s hard to make that argument because Abreu wasn’t exactly a trailblazer. He was an important cultural figure in the annals of Cuban players coming stateside but that’s a hard sell.

This would all be easier if we had any idea how Cuban numbers translate. I expect this is going to be something Jay Jaffe will be working on about 8 year from now.

PC1970
11 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Yeah, the Cuban #’s is the rub. They look great, but,there are a # of issues.

what was the level of competiton? How many MLB caliber pitchers did he face or was he teeing off on A Ball level guys?

What was the offensive environment? Is it like 90’s Coors Field or the PCL? Just a real lack of context.

Park effects?

I’m sure if I took time to think it through, I would just come up with more questions.

Last edited 11 months ago by PC1970
Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  PC1970

I might pull the stats of MLB players who also have a decent sample in the CNS, and see if there’s a quick-and-dirty translation on OBP and SLG.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

His case wouldn’t be about being “a trailblazer.”

It would be about whether it’s fair to completely discount his insane run from 20-25 (and especially 22-24) solely because his birthplace denied him the opportunity to compete in the majors.

It’s the Roy Campanella/Monte Irvin argument.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago

(I swear I didn’t read Dan’s piece before writing this, haha)

darren
11 months ago
Reply to  PC1970

Let’s not forget that as a DH playing for the White Sox, he only needs to reach 38.8 WAR to get into the Hall.

darren
11 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

The argument for trying to count these numbers is that Cuban players were prevented from playing MLB for reasons beyond their control. Counting them is much harder and requires more guesswork, of course.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  darren

“If we have a good faith basis to believe that Yuli Gurriel and José Abreu didn’t suddenly become awesome baseball players the minute they were able to play in the US, why should the performances that pre-date their debuts here be summarily ignored when bestowing baseball’s highest honor? I’m not sure either Gurriel or Abreu have the career numbers to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but let’s make sure we’re considering all the times they played this grand game. It’s messy to estimate what could have been, but just because answering a question is difficult doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.”

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago

I’d love for the completely unknowable downvoter to explain why they disagree with Dan Szymborkski, and instead think that because answering a question is difficult, we shouldn’t try to answer it at all.

(Taking bets now: do we expect an “anonymous” downvote, or a shrill ad hominem?)

TKDCmember
11 months ago

You really are shook that there is one person here that will stand up to your juvenile bullying and Gish Gallup style arguments. Honestly, this is good for you. When you grow up and join the real world, these lessons will be helpful.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Hahahahahaha.

Yes, son.

Through the power of anonymous downvoting and ad hom meltdowns, you truly stand tall against the myriad “bullies” who disagree with your pre-existing assumptions, and then provide the datapoints resulting in that disagreement.

#StunningAndBRAVE

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

I especially enjoy that the lone downvote on the quote from Dan’s article mysteriously disappeared after I mentioned that it was a quote from one of Dan’s articles.

You’re so smart, so special, so, so brave…and the genuinely odd preoccupations of your ad hominem jabs DEFINITELY trick everyone here into believing you’ve touched a breast since you stopped nursing in the 10th grade.

Last edited 11 months ago by Cool Lester Smooth
Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Come on, sport! “Shake” me more!!!!

I’m sure you’ve written a full book that details how anyone who reads objectively idiotic shit, then makes fun of the person who inflicted the burden of having to read that objectively idiotic shit on other human beings is A BULLY!!!!!

Last edited 11 months ago by Cool Lester Smooth
Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

I DO have a few suggestions:

1) Stop saying self-evidently idiotic shit.

2) Understand that feedback isn’t an attack on your value as a person.

TKDCmember
11 months ago

Weird how my take about Abreu and Freeman got overwhelmingly positive support and your annoying screeds, all 50 of them, universally failed to garner any support. But I guess you’re the smart one and me and everyone who agreed with me are all the dumb ones. Couldn’t possibly be the other way around? You don’t have the wit, charm, or intelligence of the real CLS, but you do a wonderful job incapsulating his lack of self-awareness.

RonnieDobbs
11 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

lol exactly