Bobby Abreu’s Case For The Hall

Bobby Abreu was a feared opponent during his years with the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets. But his name hasn’t come up much during hall of fame discussions I’ve seen. Everyone seems to be focused on Jeter’s wholesome virtue and whether the other end of that scale, the Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens of the world will get in based on the numbers they might have posted without creams and clears and performance-enhancing drug shipments to spouses.

Abreu’s offensive numbers, I imagined, were pretty good, but they were better than I remembered… impressive actually… for any era. He hit .300 six times, drove in 100 eight times, scored 100 eight times and drew 100 walks eight times. He’s 20th all time in walks and he’s one of only 75 players with at least 400 stolen bases. In fact only one other person has 1400 runs, 1400 walks, 1300 runs batted in and 400 stolen bases. He hit 288 home runs, which isn’t amazing, but, I’ll take that compared to the likes of Bonds and Palmeiro or any other guy who let his best friend go to prison, and was convicted in a court of law for obstruction of justice (I know. It was later overturned.)

Abreu’s in the top 100 in a host of all-time numbers. Even though no single stat was cartoonish, he was consistently excellent and even won a Gold Glove in 2005 (granted, with four errors) and he was consistently feared as one of the best players in the game.

Yes, he batted .291 over an 18 year career and .284 in the postseason, including 2009 when he had five hits, four runs and four walks during a three-game ALDS against the Boston Red Sox. So, no the career average isn’t .300 but do you penalize a player for career averages that dip a little because he loves playing the game and plays a little longer than is good for his career Wins Above Replacement Rating?

Career average to me is less important than a player being one of the game’s best for a decade. Robin Yount, Ryne Sandberg, Joe Morgan and Harold Baines are all in the hall and none meet that magical number either. The question also needs to be asked, if Tony Gwynn could “only” hit .370 for a full year and he is the Ted Williams of his time, shouldn’t we dial back our expectations a little as to what average constitutes a “great” hitter?

Take into account some recent and not-so-recent admissions into the hall and his numbers stand at the same level and above. He was at the top of the game for a decade or more. By all accounts he played the right way and was a credit to the game.

He belongs in the hall.

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