It was not unexpected that he would have struggles as he transitions to a new league, it’s just that his hot start and disciplined approach at the plate seemed to get everybody used to the idea that he would be able to handle himself just fine in the majors.
Wednesday’s 0-for-6 performance, though, means that Abreu is 1-for-21 since hitting a home run in the fifth inning of Thursday’s game against the Cleveland Indians. That homer was Abreu’s second of the game.
Looking back, there were warning signs that he wasn’t quite right at the plate. The night after his two-homer game he struck out twice against the Indians and three more times the following night.
He’s making better contact now, but the hits aren’t falling. On Wednesday he reached base in the first inning on an error and he flew out to the base of the wall in right-center in the third inning.
His batting average dropped to .217, while his on-base percentage fell to .324, but his slugging percentage is at .500, which still leads all regular American League first basemen, ahead of guys like Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.
If there is anything Abreu is showing of late, it’s a tendency to be anxious at the plate. Not necessarily a guy who works deep into counts anyway, he has been even quicker in recent games in an effort to get a jump on pitchers.
In his six trips to the plate Wednesday, he saw just 17 pitches. Free swinger Dayan Viciedo also saw 17 pitches in Wednsday’s game, but he made only four trips to the plate before he was replaced by Jordan Danks for defensive purposes.
It wasn’t out of the question that teams were going to find holes in Abreu's approach. He showed an impressive early resiliency by taking outside pitches to the opposite field and getting his hands in on inside offerings to do damage on those as well.
It seems that, for now, teams will remain content with trying to get to Abreu with offspeed pitches. He failed to deliver a hit on two fastballs and a sinker Wednesday, but also on a curveball, slider and changeup.
According to fangraphs.com, Abreu has seen a fastball 52.2 percent of the time, while Cabrera (59.3) and Pujols (61.1) have seen more. Plain and simple, Abreu’s first adjustment period is upon him. Recognizing and attacking breaking pitches out over the plate would seem to be the goal.