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Bobby Abreu Worthy Of Enshrinement In Cooperstown

Longtime Phillies right fielder has career numbers comparable to top outfielders of the last century
November 30, 2020

Former Phillies right fielder Bobby Abreu, who is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the second season, accrued career statistics in many categories on par with or superior to nearly every one of the 26 players ever elected to the Hall of Fame as a right fielder. For 18

Former Phillies right fielder Bobby Abreu, who is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the second season, accrued career statistics in many categories on par with or superior to nearly every one of the 26 players ever elected to the Hall of Fame as a right fielder.

For 18 seasons, Abreu used an extremely unique and dynamic blend of discipline, power, speed and durability to cement himself as one of the game’s most productive and consistent players. During his 12 best seasons (1998-2009), Abreu played in more games than any other player (1,877). He was second to only Barry Bonds in walks (1,231) and Todd Helton in doubles (472), was tied for third in stolen bases (341), sixth in extra-base hits (779), seventh in hits (2,059), eighth in RBI (1,160) and WAR (57.3) and 11th in OBP (.406). During his true peak (1998-2005), Abreu’s WAR (45.2) was higher than Vladimir Guerrero (44.3), Chipper Jones (43.8), Derek Jeter (40.6), Ivan Rodriguez (37.4), Jeff Bagwell (36.8), Larry Walker (35.9) and every other Hall of Famer to play in that time frame. His career WAR of 60.2 is higher than 11 other Hall of Fame right fielders, including Guerrero (59.5), Enos Slaughter (57.0) and Chuck Klein (46.0).

There are currently 26 players who, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, have been inducted as right fielders. Of those 26 Hall of Fame right fielders, Abreu ranks in the top 10 in the following categories:

OBP

1. Babe Ruth - .474
2. Mel Ott - .414
3. Harry Heilmann - .410
4. Paul Waner - .404
5. Larry Walker - .400
6. Ross Youngs - .399
7. Bobby Abreu - .395
8. Willie Keeler - .391
9. Elmer Flick - .391
10. Frank Robinson - .389

Walks

1. Babe Ruth - 2,062
2. Mel Ott - 1,708
3. Bobby Abreu - 1,476
4. Frank Robinson - 1,420
5. Hank Aaron - 1,402
6. Reggie Jackson - 1,375
7. Al Kaline - 1,277
8. Dave Winfield - 1,216
9. Harry Hooper - 1,136
10. Paul Waner - 1,091

Stolen Bases

1. Willie Keeler - 495
2. Tommy McCarthy - 468*
3. Bobby Abreu - 400
4. Harry Hooper - 375
5. King Kelly - 368*
6. Sam Crawford - 366
7. Sam Rice - 351
8. Elmer Flick - 330
9. Kiki Cuyler - 328
10. Tony Gwynn - 319
*SB numbers reflect steals only after they became an official stat

XBH

1. Hank Aaron - 1,477
2. Babe Ruth - 1,356
3. Frank Robinson - 1,186
4. Dave Winfield - 1,093
5. Reggie Jackson - 1,075
6. Mel Ott - 1,071
7. Andre Dawson - 1,039
T8. Vladimir Guerrero - 972
T8. Al Kaline - 972
10. Bobby Abreu - 921

Doubles

1. Hank Aaron - 624
2. Paul Waner - 604
3. Bobby Abreu - 574
4. Tony Gwynn - 543
5. Harry Heilmann - 542
6. Dave Winfield - 540
7. Frank Robinson - 528
8. Babe Ruth - 506
9. Andre Dawson - 503
10. Al Kaline - 498

Additionally, among those 26 right fielders currently enshrined in Cooperstown, Abreu ranks 11th in OPS (.870) and runs scored (1,453), 12th in home runs (288) and RBI (1,363), 14th in slugging percentage, 15th in WAR (60.2), 17th in hits (2,470) and T-18th in wRC+ (129). Below is Abreu’s career compared to the other right fielders inducted into the Hall of Fame whose careers ended after 1980:

Abreu’s combination of power, superior speed and baserunning ability, discipline and durability set him apart from the prototypical corner outfielder in the Hall of Fame.

Power and Speed
• There are only seven players ever to record at least 900 career extra-base hits and steal at least 400 bases: Barry Bonds, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Craig Biggio, Honus Wagner, Paul Molitor and Bobby Abreu. Of the first six, five are in the Hall of Fame and Bonds is on the ballot. The two other outfielders on this list aside from Abreu and Bonds (Cobb and Speaker) were inductees of the Hall of Fame in its first two classes.

• No player ever has had as many seasons with at least 60 extra-base hits and 20 steals than Abreu’s nine. Barry Bonds is the only other player with eight, and Ed Delahanty (7) and Willie Mays (6) are the only Hall of Famers with more than five. Barry and Bobby Bonds (10 each) are the only players ever with more 20 home run/20 steal seasons than Abreu’s nine, and Abreu is one of 13 players ever with multiple 30 home run/30 steal seasons.

• Among Hall of Fame right fielders, Abreu’s 400 steals would be the most in 110 years. Only Willie Keeler (495) and Tommy McCarthy (468 during a career that began two years before SB were an official stat) have more.

• His 13 seasons with 20 or more steals trail only 18 other players in major league history, and those 13 came in consecutive seasons (1999-2011)

• According to Fangraphs’ BsR stat, an all-encompassing baserunning statistic that turns stolen bases, caught stealings, and other base running plays (taking extra bases, being thrown out on the bases, etc.) into runs above and below average, Abreu’s 34.9 BsR is higher than any other right fielder in the Hall of Fame except Kiki Cuyler’s 54.1. In fact, that mark of 34.9 is the 10th among all right fielders in major league history, per Fangraphs.

• In 2004, Abreu became the only player in major league history to record at least 75 extra-base hits, 100 RBI, 125 walks and 40 stolen bases in a single season.

Discipline
• His 1,476 walks rank 20th all-time, and of the 19 players ahead of him on the list, 15 are Hall of Famers. During his career, he was third in MLB in walks, behind only Bonds (1,627) and Jim Thome (1,560). From 1999-2006, Abreu drew 100 or more walks in each season (the only player to do so) and posted a .416 OBP.

Durability and Consistency
• Abreu played in at least 150 games each year from 1998-2010 (playing all 162 in 2001 and 2005) and his 13 seasons with at least 150 games played are tied for seventh-most all-time, trailing only Pete Rose (17), Eddie Murray (16), Rafael Palmeiro (15), Cal Ripken Jr. (15), Brooks Robinson (14) and Hank Aaron (14).

• He recorded nine seasons with at least 20 home runs, eight with at least 100 runs scored, eight with at least 100 RBI, eight with a .400 OBP or better, eight with at least 100 walks and six with a .300 average or better.

Outfield Play
• Abreu’s 136 outfield assists are fourth among all outfielders to debut in the last 30 years (since 1991), trailing only Carlos Beltran (143), Kenny Lofton (142) and Larry Walker (140). From 1998-2009, Abreu’s 120 outfield assists led all outfielders, six more than Vladimir Guerrero. He led all right fielders in 1998 with 17 outfield assists and was tied for the lead among right fielders with 13 in 2000.

Outside of His Era
• Abreu’s unique skillset was overlooked in an era of increasing importance placed on home runs and less on the ability to reach base, create runs and be a dynamic offensive player. If he played today, he would widely be considered among the most valuable in the game. Consider the below comparison of two eight-season stretches:

Player (seasons)AVGOBPSLGOPSRH2B3BHRRBIBBSBwRC+OPS+
Bobby Abreu (1999-2006).304.416.514.931860138833536185782896245140139
Mike Trout (2012-19).308.422.5871.009883129724546280736794196175178

Abreu’s Career Stats and Accolades
•Two-time NL All-Star (2004 & 2005), NL Silver Slugger (2004), NL Gold Glove Award (2005)

Career statsWARAVGOBPSLGOPSRH2B3BHRRBIBBSBwRC+OPS+
Bobby Abreu60.2.291.395.475.870145324705745928813631476400129128