Yuli Gurriel Thriving For the Miami Marlins As José Abreu Struggles in Houston
By Alec Brown
Yuli Gurriel is one of the most beloved players in Houston Astros history. He was a staple of the Golden Era, winning four pennants and two World Series in an Astros uniform. His personality and propensity for clutch hits and big scoops at first base made him a fan favorite in Houston.
The Astros parted ways with Gurriel this offseason, letting the 38-year old walk in free agency. After winning a batting tile in 2021, La Piña couldn't find it at the plate in 2022. Houston bid farwell after Yuli hit .242 with a .648 OPS. Gurriel went on to sign with Miami while the Astros replaced him with José Abreu, their new franchise first baseman.
Maybe they'd like a do-over. Yes, Abreu is a notorious slow starter, but this is a new low for him. Abreu is hitting .235 after going 0-4 Sunday night. His OPS has plummeted to .537. He was brought in to drive in runs, but has done anything but.
Abreu leads the team in at-bats taken with runners in scoring position, but has only 11 RBI to show for it. He rolled over a hanging curveball begging to get hit onto Crawford Street for a rally-killing double play in the first, taking a crooked number out of play.
Houston is giving $19 million a year to a first baseman currently worth -0.5 bWAR. Meanwhile, Yuli just keeps being Yuli. In 14 games, Gurriel is hitting .306 with an .807 OPS and 122 OPS+. He's accounted for 0.3 bWAR.
Gurriel also has two home runs to his name, one of the inside the park variety. Abreu on the other hand has gone 192 plate appearances without a big fly, the longest stretch of his career.
It's still early to say Abreu won't find it, but his Statcast metrics don't instill much in the way of confidence. In a role in which he doesn't play everyday, Gurriel is thriving. You're missed La Piña. Here is to Abreu finding it and quickly.