Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 10/28/13
There have been no shortage of opinions regarding the Chicago White Sox’ signing of Jose Dariel Abreu.  We have seen how his statistics match up to other recent Cuban defectors before the jump, as well as heard differing scouts’ opinions regarding how those stats will translate stateside. I will not try to add to either of these discussions.  I think the stat comparisons to Puig and Cespedes are interesting enough without my additional input, and I have not actually seen Abreu in person to judge his athleticism or bat speed.  I do not know anything about his makeup besides what has already been repeated by scouts and former teammates. What I have not heard anything about is how people view his swing.  I made a comment in Dave’s article the other day disputing the importance of bat speed in favor of efficiency, and so I felt motivated to continue that conversation here.  Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes happen to be two of the most explosive athletes in the game, so their exploits may not be very predictive.  On top of his fellow Cuban natives, Abreu has been compared to Miguel Cabrera due to his size and “lack” of athleticism (side note: too many people mistake foot speed for athleticism; rotational athletes are a completely different breed from track stars).  Pretty tall order, since even 1/4 of Cabrera’s production would result in a pretty solid value for the ChiSox.  Even with a very good swing, I think it would be ridiculous to expect the same generational types of seasons from the Cuban slugger.  The first hitter I thought of when I saw Abreu’s swing was Buster Posey. I decided to present Abreu’s swing in comparison to Cespedes, Cabrera and Posey to help paint a picture of why I think he will be a fantastic hitter in the Major Leagues.  I chose to leave Puig out of this, both because of his unmatched physical skills and lack of enough plate appearances to really see who he is as a hitter.  It remains to be seen how much ability Puig has to adjust back to the league’s changes in approach.  We will look at aspects of both Abreu’s bat path and his rotational mechanics to justify my optimism. BAT PATH In my opinion, the path and sequence of the bat are the most important parts of the swing.  The best hitters in the game all get on the same plane as the ball quickly and stay on it for a long time.  This requires being on a slight uppercut angle to match the ball’s slight downward trajectory.  Here are two of Abreu’s swings during the 2012 Cuban National Series from a side angle, where it is easiest to see the path of the bat:
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