When the Houston Astros signed Jose Abreu before the 2023 season, he was coming off a fantastic tenure with the White Sox where he won ROY and a MVP award while averaging a .292/.354/.507 line and 27 homers a season. He never brought much to the table in the field, but this dude could flat out hit and appeared to be a strong addition to the Astros' already potent offense.
However, that is not how the 2023 regular season played out. Not. At. All.
While dealing with a back injury for the bulk of the season, Abreu was among the league's worst qualified hitters in the first half of 2023. This wasn't just underperformance, it was downright painful to watch his at-bats. Things did improve, especially after his IL stint where he finally got the treatment he needed, but he still ended up with just a .237/.296/.383 line this season. He did hit 18 homers, but he did little else to help the Astros' cause.
Jose Abreu finds redemption in the ALDS against the Twins
However, Abreu's story took a dramatic turn for the better in the playoffs. Not only did hold his own, he was a primary driver of Houston's offense in the series including hitting three homers in two games to send the Twins packing.
Baseball is a game that, in a lot of ways, has a short-term memory. Before the playoffs started, fans and observers alike were already calling Abreu's contract with the Astros a bust and opining that the team could try to move on from him as soon as possible. In fairness, given his injury and age, there was legitimate cause for concern.
However, no one is saying that right now. Instead of a pariah, Jose is a postseason hero that is playing his best baseball all season at exactly the time Houston needed him to. If you asked most fans right now, they are probably more than happy to pay him his close to $60 million if it means another strong chance at a World Series title.
It remains to be seen how Abreu's contract will look in the coming years. His back issues could come back as we don't exactly know what the root cause is right now. Plus, he is 36 years old and players like him don't age particularly well. One can hope that the offseason will allow him to get completely healthy and ready to roll for 2024, but there are no guarantees here. However, for the moment, Jose Abreu has rewarded the Astros' faith in him and that feels pretty great.