Michel Abreu Martínez
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 245 lb.
- School Universidad de Matanzas
- High School Escuela de Iniciacon Deportivoa
- Born ??? in Matanzas Cuba (When he played for the 1999 Cuban national team, his birthdate was given as 1/2/75. Ecured lists 10/2/77. When he defected, he claimed a 1/2/79 birthdate, which is listed at the main B-R site but does not match a career that began in 1994).
Michel Abreu played 8 years in Cuba and later won batting titles in AA in the US and in Mexico, a MVP in Puerto Rico and a home run title in Japan.
Abreu hit .315/~.429/.523 in the Cuban leagues. He was 0 for 4 in the 1999 Intercontinental Cup. He also was on the Cuban national team during their games with the 1999 Orioles. Other than 1999, he never played for the national team. In the 2001-2002 Serie Nacional, the Matanzas first baseman won the MVP award after leading the league with 23 homers and 78 runs.
Abreu reportedly was disappointed that Kendry Morales was given the job as first baseman on the Cuban national team after Orestes Kindelan retired and this led to Abreu's leaving Cuba in 2004. He switched agents and countries a couple times and failed in a bid to get residency in Mexico. In 2005, he signed with the Boston Red Sox for $450,000 but the team voided the deal after it found out that Abreu had subtracted four years from age. Records were publicly available in Cuba but as is so often the case with defectors, the baseball media in the USA did not double-check with those. The 2007 Mets Media Guide still lists the incorrect January 2, 1979 birthdate.
Abreu signed with the New York Mets in January of 2006. He was 3 for 9 for the St. Lucie Mets but spent most of the year with the Binghamton Mets, where the veteran hit .332/.404/.530 with 17 HR. He led Mets minor leaguers in total bases (245), slugging and extra-base hits (54). He won the Eastern League batting title by 29 points over Brett Roneberg, had the best OBP in the EL and drew the most intentional walks (9). He was third in slugging. He made the EL All-Star team at first base.
In winter ball in 2009-2010, Michel hit .351/.444/.718 with 12 homers and 42 RBI in 36 games for the Lobos de Arecibo to win Puerto Rican League MVP honors. He was 4th in the circuit in average, second to Armando Rios in OBP, led in slugging by over 100 points over Randy Ruiz, led in homers (5 more than Ruiz), led in RBI (15 more than anyone else), was second in runs (28, 5 behind defending MVP Jorge Padilla), tied Jesus Feliciano for 3rd in doubles (12), led in OPS and tied Padilla for the most walks (23). Moving to Mexico for 2010, he hit .292/.377/.494 with 17 homers and 71 RBI in 98 games for the Olmecas de Tabasco. He was 10th in the Mexican League in dingers.
He was even better for Tabasco in 2011; the 35-year-old batted .339/.438/.574 with 21 home runs, 71 runs, 82 RBI and 64 walks in 101 games. He fielded .997 at 1B. He was 7th in the LMB in walks and tied Carlos Valencia and Willis Otanez for 8th in RBI. In his third season in Mexico, he produced at a .371/.474/.678 clip for the Sultanes de Monterrey, with 29 homers, 106 RBI and 72 walks in 108 games. He led the Mexican League in average (8 points ahead of Carlos Alberto Gastelum), OBP (.012 ahead of fellow defector Bárbaro Cañizares), slugging (16 points ahead of Cañizares), OPS and RBI (3 ahead of Cañizares). He tied Frank Diaz, Antonio Llamas and Rene Reyes for 5th in runs (81), was second to Carlos Rodriguez in homers (3 shy), was third in total bases (249, 4 behind Leonardo Heras and Cañizares) and 6th in walks. In the Mexican Pacific League, he hit .294/.400/.559 with 5 HR and 22 RBI in 17 games for the Mexicali Eagles.
Trying his hand in yet another country, he signed with the Nippon Ham Fighters. Playing mostly DH, he hit .284/.357/.506 with 31 home runs and 95 RBI in 2013. He fanned against Takayuki Kishi in his first at-bat in Japan and got his first hit and homer off Ken Togame. He finished the year among the Pacific League leaders in home runs (1st, 3 ahead of Casey McGehee and Sho Nakata), RBI (2nd, 15 behind Hideto Asamura), walks (57, 10th), strikeouts (132, 3rd behind Andruw Jones and Dai-Kang Yang), slugging (6th, between Yuya Hasegawa and Dae-ho Lee) and OPS (7th, between Lee and Yuki Yanagita). He was one of two foreigners (along with McGehee) voted onto the PL Best Nine team that year; he won the vote at DH over Jones, 115-95 (Lee was a distant 3rd with 9, 4 other players splitting the other 9 votes).
Sources: 2007 Baseball Almanac, Defunct IBAF website, A History of Cuban Baseball by Peter Bjarkman, 2007 Mets Media Guide, 9/13/05 Boston Globe article by Gordon Edes, Speculation on Abreu's retirement because Morales got the 1B job on the national team, Soxprospects.com, Reporting on the Sox voiding Abreu's deal, 2005 Guia Official de Beisbol, Japanese Wikipedia