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Winston Abreu's Crazy Major League Equivalents

At the end of a piece by the brilliant Erik Manning of FanGraphs on the Hawkins to Milwaukee signing, he begs the question, "And is anyone else fascinated with Winston Abreu’s MLE besides me?"

Of course, I had to go to to see this for myself, as I had remembered Abreu bouncing around with a few teams in 2009 but never settling down, and I wondered why this guy never stuck around anywhere.

Certainly, his constant movement could be explained by his 7.31 ERA, 5.84 FIP, and 5.31 xFIP in 44 innings of relief with the Orioles, Nationals, Rays and Indians during various parts of the 2007 and 2009 seasons. He spent the 2008 season in Japan with the Chiba Lotte Marines of the PCL before signing a minor league deal with Tampa Bay. But of course, if he was so bad, then why did teams keep looking at this guy?

Now, I get it. Here's Abreu's Major League Equivalent, or essentially what his statistics would be based on various calculations of the statistics he posted in the minors, adjusted for league, park, level and luck, for the 2009 season:

57 innings, 72 K, 25 BB, 5 HR, .158 BAA, 3.38 FIP

A 3.38 FIP would make Abreu one of the better relievers in the game. His 11.37 strikeout rate would've been the 10th best in the league among relievers with 40+ innings pitched, and his FIP would've put him in the Top 50, making him a solidly above average relief pitcher.

Now, maybe it was a fluke? Look at his 2007 MLE:

54.6 innings, 72 K, 27 BB, 3 HR, .148 BAA, 2.74 FIP

Look similar? He had a better strikeout rate, gave up two less home runs and less hits, and posted an FIP over a half a point lower.

If Sean Smith's MLE equivalents are even remotely valid, and in many cases they have been, then teams should continue to give looks to the power right-hander, because Abreu appears to have the ability to be a very solid back of the bullpen reliever for someone, and he wouldn't cost remotely near the $5M that Houston will pay Brandon Lyon in 2010, or the $3.75M that Milwaukee will give to Hawkins for next year. I'm very glad that Manning pointed this out to us, because Winston Abreu should be solidly on someone's radar if they're looking to build a bullpen on the cheap.

Also, he mentioned the lack of interest in Kiko Calero, and that's something that has boggled my mind for a while now, the guy has a career FIP of 3.29, career xFIP of 3.88, and a career ERA of 3.24. How does nobody notice this guy?