Is It Time For the Astros To Be Worried About José Abreu?

Houston Astros v Atlanta Braves
Houston Astros v Atlanta Braves / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

José Abreu was the prized offseason acquisition for the Houston Astros. After the Astros received a .236 batting average and a .656 OPS from the position in 2022, Abreu was supposed to restore order to the position and deepen an already potent lineup.

Or not...

Abreu has played in all 24 of the Astros games this season and is hitting .250. His OPS is a startlingly bad .576 and he carries a 63 OPS+ (100 is league average). Until Monday, he had batted cleanup in every game.

Abreu has made 32 plate appearances with runners in scoring position. He's batting .233 with a .615 OPS. One of the premier run producers of his generation, Abreu has 10 RBI in these situations compared to 7 strikeouts.

His Statcast page is particularly haunting. Abreu is in the 15th percentile of wxOBA, 16th of average exit velocity, 32nd of xSLG, 35th in hard hit rate, 39th of xBA, 39th in barrel rate, and 43rd percentile of strikeout rate.

While his counting stats aren't great, his quality of contact doesn't show that a turnaround is imminent.

They're also a far cry from his production in 2022. He finished last season in the 98th percentile in xBA, 98th in hard hit rate, 96th in xwOBA, 92nd in xSLG and 82nd in strikeout rate.

Perhaps most troubling, Abreu hasn't homered since September 13th of last season. His power is completely nonexistent at the moment.

Now, one thing to note is Abreu is a notoriously slow starter. His career March/April batting average is .255 and OPS is .773. He hits at least .277 with at least an .834 OPS every other month.

There is a chance Abreu is just off to a slower than normal start, but one home run in his last 78 games is daunting. He needs to turn it around quickly. Maybe an off-day would help him do just that.

Houston gave Abreu $19.5 million a year to be a premier run producer in the lineup. With contract extensions due up for Altuve, Bregman, Tucker and Valdez, Abreu needs to earn his money. If Houston is going to hold off the rest of the improved AL West and contenders like the Rays and Blue Jays, they need their big bat in the middle to start producing like one.