In this week's 2023 Dynasty Baseball Trade Target: C.J. Abrams article I will be discussing a player who has regained his title as one of the most electric players in baseball.
As a diehard fan of a few different sports, I know firsthand that sports fans can be a fickle bunch. One stretch of struggles for a player can cause many fans to label them a “bust”, “washed” or any other negative term for a player. I’ve revisited this with the start of the NFL season, where Russell Wilson has been labeled “washed” after one bad season. The public narrative on Tua Tagovailoa seems to flip with every throw. (I love fellow F6P writer Dennis Sosic's work, but Tua is assuredly not on the bust list after week one)
This also applies to the diamond. Baseball is a game of streaks, and it can be easy to write off a young player after a bad streak, especially if it’s to open up their career. While many fans wrote C.J. Abrams off after the former top prospect got off to a dreadful start, his success this year is indicative of his true talent.
CJ Abrams is just a flat out joy to watch pic.twitter.com/SEOk6mJKhB
— Talkin Nats (@TalkinNats) September 9, 2023
2023 Dynasty Baseball Trade Target: C.J. Abrams
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Last year, Juan Soto was traded from the Nationals to the Padres. It was one of the biggest trades in recent memory. It isn’t often that a young superstar is traded, but that’s exactly what happened. A player of Soto’s stature usually requires a king’s ransom for a return in a trade. A king’s ransom is what Washington got. The two centerpieces of the trade, Mackenzie Gore and Abrams, were two top-ten prospects at the time.
However, by the end of 2022, it had seemed that Washington’s “king ransom” wasn’t a return meant for a king. Both of the centerpieces of the trade were struggling. Abrams in particular had a tough time, as he recorded a lackluster .258/.276/.320 slash line, with a 77 OPS+.
The first half of 2023 was rough for Abrams as well. He hit under .230 for the first half and didn’t record an OPS at 100 or above. It was shaping up to be another lackluster year for the former top prospect.
However, Abrams completely turned it around in the second half. He slashed .327/.391/.500 with an OPS near .900 in July, and is putting up similar numbers in September.
What’s allowed Abrams to be so effective in the second half? The answer seems to be a shift into the leadoff spot in the order. With his electric speed (82nd percentile) and solid bat-to-ball skills (70th percentile whiff rate and 65th percentile K rate), Abrams seemed to be a natural fit for the leadoff spot.
*hand to earpiece* getting word cj abrams is, IN FACT,
that guy pic.twitter.com/rkq9vZPQtM
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 12, 2023
A New Spot in the Lineup
This move has certainly paid off. Bobby Blanco of Masnsports.com highlights the success, stating: “Since moving to the leadoff spot full-time on July 7 and after his two-homer performance last night, Abrams is slashing .275/.333/.472/.805 with six doubles, two triples, 11 homers, 40 runs, 23 RBIs, 14 walks and 30 stolen bases in 55 games. That would put him on pace for 32 homers, 88 stolen bases and 118 runs scored over a 162-game season.”
As evidenced in the stats shown above, moving up to leadoff has not only improved Abram’s hitting stats but also unlocked a key component of fantasy baseball: stolen bases.
Despite being a known threat on the basepaths (24 stolen bases in 68 AAA games in 2022), Abrams only recorded seven stolen bases in 90 MLB games in 2022. Additionally, during the first 78 games of 2023, Abrams only swiped eleven bags. However, since being moved to the leadoff spot, Abrams has stolen 30 bases in 55 games, putting him at an elite 41 on the year.
CJ Abrams is 2 home runs away from being only the 5th player ever 22 years old or younger, to have 20+ 2B / 20+ HR / 40+ SB in a season.
He would join Mike Trout, Alex Rodriguez, Cesar Cedeno & Corbin Carroll (this season).
— Christian (@TheCanuckadian) September 12, 2023
What will it take to get Abrams?
Despite being 13th in FantasyPros’s Value-Based Rankings over the last 30 days, and seventh over the last 15, Abrams is still only rosters in half of the leagues in FantasyPros. While it might not take a trade to get Abrams now, it will soon if he keeps hitting the way it is right now. In that case, a likely trade could take a few pitchers or other young prospects.
C.J. Abrams is an electric, five-tool player. He sits at 18 homers and 41 stolen bases right now, giving him an outside shot at a 20/50 season. Outside of Ronald Acuńa this year, this hasn’t been accomplished since 2007, when both Hanley Ramirez and Eric Byrnes hit this milestone. The power and speed combo make him a no-doubter to be our next 2023 Dynasty Baseball Trade Target: C.J. Abrams