Welcome to BP Boston’s second annual Roster Recap series. Over the next few months, we’ll be analyzing every player on Boston’s 40-man roster and many of their top prospects in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the Red Sox roster’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as what we can expect moving forward. From MVP-candidate right fielders to reserve relievers, we want to give you a look at every Red Sox who might matter in 2017. View the complete list of Roster Recaps here. Enjoy!
Fernando Abad made minor history this offseason when he became the first player under the current ownership group to go to arbitration with the Red Sox. He wanted $2.7 million, the Red Sox felt he was worth $2 million, and, on the last day of January, the team notched its first victory of the season when the arbitrator ruled in their favor — saving $700K that they’d otherwise have to sell, like, five beers to make back. The horrors.
Will things get better for the bullpen lefty in 2017? Let’s find out.
What went right in 2016
A lot went right for Abad in 2016. He started the season in Minnesota on a minor league deal and ended up on first-place Boston after a summer trade for right-handed flamethrower Pat Light. A lefty specialist and journeyman, Abad put up a 2.65 ERA over 34 innings for the Twins, holding left-handed batters to a .163/.192/.265 line before the deal and holding opponents to a 45.2 percent ground ball rate.
What want wrong in 2016
Abad’s success in Minnesota didn’t translate to the Red Sox. He only pitched in 12.7 innings for Boston, but over that span his ERA ballooned to 6.39 as his ground ball rate fell just enough (to 38 percent) to do some real damage to his overall line. Virtually homer-proof for the Twins (0.5 HR/9), he gave up some dongers in Boston that pushed him to 1.5 HR/9, though he did increase his K/9 by nearly a full point. These are very small sample size issues, but they likely cost Abad quite a bit in arbitration. Sad!
What to expect in 2017
Especially at his discounted price, there’s a lot to like from Abad here. Last year’s Robbie Ross-or-bust approach to lefty relievers is blissfully a thing of the past, and if Abad can simply revert to the average stats of his peripatetic career — 3.71 ERA, 41 percent ground ball rate — he can be a valuable piece of a Sox team that most certainly wants its lefties to induce ground balls. At the very worst, Abad is a headline writer’s dream, a pun generator par excellence. That’s Agood thing.
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