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ADP Cost Analysis - Jose Abreu vs Matt Olson


The exciting young gun versus the proven veteran. A sports debate older than fantasy baseball itself, and a decision we’re faced with at every draft pick. That’s why we’re comparing the young gun (Matt Olson) to the proven veteran (Jose Abreu), two first baseman within the same sub-elite yet startable tier that owners must decide between on draft day.

Abreu is going slightly higher in NFBC leagues at around pick 83, while Olson is going at pick 109. Is it worth forking up the extra 26 spots for Abreu, or can owners wait and get similar production from Olson?

RotoBaller is going to break down all the pressing ADP questions you need to know before draft day. Check out our take on the catcher position debate between Buster Posey and Danny Jansen right here.

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Jose Abreu – The Proven Veteran

(ADP 83 Overall, 8 First Base)

Jose Abreu has been an offensive force since coming to the majors from Cuba, but 2018 was the closest thing he’s ever had to a down year. His .265 AVG, .798 OPS, and 114 wRC+ were all career lows, and Abreu struggled with injuries all year, even hitting the disabled list for the first time since 2014 due to emergency surgery in late August. The good news is that big power potential still lurks in Abreu’s bat. Despite his underwhelming surface stats, Abreu still pulverized the ball, posting a 91.3 MPH average exit velocity and 45.2% hard-hit rate in 2018. His expected stats suggest Abreu underperformed last season. He had a .284 xBA vs. a .265 BA, a .497 xSLG vs. a .473 SLG, and a .360 xwOBA vs. a .330 wOBA. Abreu’s .294 BABIP from last season falls within the normal range for the average batter, but Abreu had never had a BABIP below .327 before 2018.

Based on past seasons, we know that Abreu is a true talent .290 hitter and his disappointing 2018 was a combination of bad luck and health issues. Abreu isn’t showing signs of aging yet and is a safe bet as a bounce-back candidate. He is a fair value at his current ADP of 83 and has a good chance to return surplus value at his draft price.

 

Matt Olson – The Exciting Young Gun

(ADP 109 Overall, 11 First Base)

Olson made a huge impact as a rookie in 2017, putting up video game-like numbers for Oakland, where he hit .259 with 24 home runs and a .392 ISO in 216 PA. Everything was shaping up for Olson to be one of the league’s new premier power hitters, but his production slowed down in 2018. Olson was still solid last season, but his .207 ISO and 29 homers in 660 PA were a huge step back compared to his rookie campaign. Of course, what he did in 2017 was patently unsustainable. The foundation for his .392 ISO was a 41.4% HR/FB ratio, a ridiculously high rate for any ballpark, but especially in pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum.  He also hit just two doubles compared to 24 homers, a ratio that was sure to even out over time. But even when we take that correction into consideration, Olson still performed below expectations in 2018.

His power fall-off was an over-correction, as he still crushed the ball last season, posting an unreal 93.1 MPH average exit velocity and a 51.8% hard-hit rate. That ranked top-six in the league in both categories. With that kind of strength, Olson should have no problem producing, but was held back by a poor contact rate and exorbitant infield flyball rate. Olson had just a 74.2% contact rate last season along with a 15% infield flyball rate. Just one of those issues can be overcome, but combined they are batting average poison and will bring down his entire performance. Furthermore, Olson hit 33 doubles compared to 29 homers in 2018, another large over-correction from 2017. Thanks to his home ballpark, Olson will probably hit more doubles than the typical hitter of this profile, but not to such a degree. There is still 40-homer power potential with Olson, but he comes with several concerns, and will probably struggle to hit above .250. He is a decent value at 109 but is a better corner infielder than many first basemen in mixed leagues.

 

Conclusion

In a straight-up comparison, Abreu is the preferred player without question. Not only does he have more years of proven production under his belt, but should be a more all-around hitter (sans stolen bases) compared to Olson’s power-only profile. At cost, Abreu is still the preferred choice despite going nearly 30 picks higher than Olson in NFBC leagues. If healthy there’s no reason to think Abreu can’t bounce back to previous high-level production, while Olson has several warts on his profile Abreu can be trusted as a starting first baseman, if a low-end one, while Olson is more of a corner infielder in standard mixed leagues. Olson is still a solid pick at 109, but not an especially great value considering one could draft Abreu slightly higher or take Max Muncy at pick 108 and get similar if not better production.

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