After more than 21 years on this earth, I’ve finally found something worth fighting for, a cause to get behind, someone to convince people to cast their vote for. No, his name isn’t Kerry or Bush … it’s Abreu. Bobby Abreu.
You see, Bobby Abreu is an All-Star. He just is, and there’s nothing you can ever say or do to convince me otherwise. The only problem is that, unless Abreu wins the “Final Vote” contest on MLB.com for the 32nd and final spot on the National League All-Star team, he will have played nine seasons in the major leagues without being chosen to a single All-Star team.
I know what you’re saying … How can someone be an All-Star without being on an All-Star team? If you don’t know the answer to that question, you’ve obviously never looked at Abreu’s career.
Let’s start with this year, since there’s still something that can be done to make him an All-Star in 2004. Through his first 78 games (when the All-Star teams were announced), Abreu hit .304/.444/.576 with 17 homers, 22 doubles, 69 walks, 17 stolen bases, 56 RBIs and 66 runs scored.
Projected over a full season, his numbers are incredible …
G AVG OBP SLG 2B HR RUN RBI BB SB 158 .304 .444 .576 45 35 135 115 140 35
In a league without Barry Bonds in it, those are MVP numbers. In fact, if Abreu keeps up those paces, he will have filled a stat-sheet like no one in baseball history. No hitter has ever had the combination of 40+ doubles, 30+ homers, 120+ runs, 100+ RBIs, 120+ walks and 30+ stolen bases — all of which Abreu is well on pace for right now. The only two players to come close are Bonds and Babe Ruth (twice), but neither of them could get to 30 steals. Incidentally, not only is Abreu on pace for more than 30 steals, he is swiping bases at a 94.4% clip so far (17-for-18).
Here are Abreu’s current rankings among NL hitters …
– 2nd in Runs
– 3rd in Walks
– 4th in On-Base Percentage
– 4th in Stolen Bases
– 7th in OPS
– 8th in RBIs
– 9th in Slugging Percentage
If traditional stats don’t float your boat, consider that Abreu is 3rd in the NL in Runs Created (RC), behind only Bonds and Todd Helton, 2nd in the NL in Runs Created Above Average (RCAA), behind only Bonds, and 4th in the NL in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), behind only Bonds, Helton and Scott Rolen.
Here’s how Abreu looks in VORP, RC and RCAA, compared to the NL reserve outfielders who have already made the All-Star team …
VORP RC RCAA Bobby Abreu 44.3 75 39 Lance Berkman 37.5 69 37 Miguel Cabrera 31.7 58 12 Moises Alou 21.3 54 11
However, the choice of Moises Alou over Abreu is absolutely ridiculous. Abreu has been a superior player in nearly every imaginable way during the first-half of the season …
ABREU ALOU ADVANTAGE VORP 44.3 21.3 Abreu Runs Created 75 54 Abreu RC/27 Outs 10.2 6.3 Abreu RCAA 39 11 Abreu Batting Average .304 .286 Abreu On-Base Percentage .444 .338 Abreu Slugging Percentage .576 .527 Abreu OPS 1.021 .866 Abreu Runs Scored 66 50 Abreu Runs Batted In 56 49 Abreu Doubles 22 16 Abreu Extra-Base Hits 40 36 Abreu Isolated Power .272 .241 Abreu Stolen Bases 17 2 Abreu
A lot of those numbers aren’t even close. Basically, the only thing Alou leads Abreu in is home runs, where Alou holds a 19 to 17 lead. In hitting those two more homers, Alou has also made significantly more outs, which is why Abreu is creating around 62% more runs per out this season. Throw in the fact that Abreu is a superior defender and has been significantly better than Alou during the past couple years, and I see absolutely no case for Alou being chosen over Abreu.
Getting the All-Star game shaft in favor of less-deserving players is, sadly, nothing new for Bobby Abreu. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at how Abreu’s numbers stacked with the NL’s reserve outfielders in each of the past five seasons …
2003 VORP RC RCAA Bobby Abreu 53.2 116 38 Jim Edmonds 60.7 105 42 Luis Gonzalez 53.2 122 31 Preston Wilson 46.8 102 3 Andruw Jones 46.3 98 13 Geoff Jenkins 42.6 97 27 Rondell White 27.7 77 11
Rondell White making it over Abreu, despite being about half the player Abreu is, was because of the silly one-player-per-team rule. You might think that’s why Geoff Jenkins beat out Abreu too, but that’s not actually the case. Richie Sexson was a Milwaukee representative too, and Jenkins made the team by winning the “Final Vote” contest.
Preston Wilson made the team because of his Coors-inflated numbers, which, as you’ll see in a minute, is a frequent occurrence when it comes to Abreu getting screwed out of being an All-Star. Wilson came into the season, his first with the Rockies, as a .262/.333/.472 career hitter and proceeded to hit an almost-identical .260/.316/.479 away from Planet Coors. Colorado also had two other All-Stars.
I’ll give Andruw Jones a pass because, while his offense wasn’t close to Abreu’s, he’s a centerfielder and a damn good one. So, in 2003, Abreu was only better than three of the six NL reserve outfielders.
2002 VORP RC RCAA Bobby Abreu 70.4 129 57 Lance Berkman 76.9 138 55 Shawn Green 65.5 118 42 Andruw Jones 54.2 106 25 Luis Gonzalez 46.7 109 30 Adam Dunn 36.1 105 20
Luis Gonzalez‘s spot on the team was a Bob Brenly special, as the Diamondbacks had a total of six All-Stars, none chosen by the fan vote. Adam Dunn was Cincinnati’s lone All-Star and I’m again willing to give Jones the benefit of the doubt because of his defense. However, Abreu was a better offensive player than Shawn Green, and Green played the same position (right field).
In 2002, Abreu was better than three of the five NL reserve outfielders.
2001 VORP RC RCAA Bobby Abreu 64.9 130 43 Lance Berkman 87.3 156 72 Larry Walker 82.0 153 70 Brian Giles 81.3 139 57 Cliff Floyd 72.0 127 53 Vladimir Guerrero 61.3 118 22 Moises Alou 56.1 109 33
Well, whaddya know, this season isn’t the first time Moises Alou stole an All-Star spot from Abreu. As you’ll see, 2001 is somewhat unique, in that Abreu was only significantly better than one of the six NL reserve outfielders.
2000 VORP RC RCAA Bobby Abreu 72.5 138 49 Vladimir Guerrero 92.2 147 64 Brian Giles 88.3 149 66 Gary Sheffield 85.8 142 73 Jim Edmonds 75.9 134 54 Andruw Jones 70.5 131 31 Steve Finley 52.3 107 20 Jeffrey Hammonds 33.2 93 3
Once again, you see that a Colorado hitter with Coors-inflated numbers took a spot from Abreu. Like Preston Wilson in 2003, Jeffrey Hammonds came into the 2000 season with thoroughly mediocre career numbers of .268/.329/.454. And, like Wilson, Hammonds hit like he always had on the road (.275/.325/.415) and padded his stats in Coors Field. Hammonds, like Wilson before him, was handed an All-Star appearance over Abreu solely because of playing in Colorado.
Steve Finley wasn’t nearly the offensive player Abreu was in 2000 and the Diamondbacks already had a rep in Randy Johnson, so despite Finley’s good defense in center field, I’m going to say Abreu deserved the spot more than he did. That makes Abreu better than two of the seven NL reserve outfielders in 2000.
1999 VORP RC RCAA Bobby Abreu 75.8 140 58 Luis Gonzalez 73.7 135 48 Vladimir Guerrero 67.1 131 35 Gary Sheffield 62.5 123 41 Jeromy Burnitz 47.2 109 36 Brian Jordan 25.8 93 8
Here’s the year that really bugs me. Abreu hit .335/.446/.549 with 66 extra-base hits, 27 stolen bases, 109 walks, 93 RBIs and 118 runs scored in 1999. He led the NL in triples, finished 3rd in batting average and on-base percentage, 5th in runs scored and walks, and 7th in OPS. His VORP of 75.8 was not only good for 6th in the entire league, it was also better than all five of the NL reserve outfielders, all of whom also played a corner outfield spot. He also had better RC and RCAA totals than all five.
By my count, from 1999-2003, Bobby Abreu, despite not making a single All-Star team, was better than 14 of the 29 (48.3%) actual NL All-Star reserve outfielders. Some seasons, like 2001, he didn’t have a huge case to be on the team (although he still definitely had a case), while other seasons, like 1999, he was better than every backup outfielder that made the team. Toss in this year, and Abreu was or is better than 53.1% of the NL reserve outfielders since 1999. And that is conservative; the case could probably be made that the number is closer to 60%.
Meanwhile, while not making any All-Star teams from 1999-2003, take a look at where Abreu ranked among all National League outfielders in RC and RCAA during that time …
RC RCAA Barry Bonds 844 Barry Bonds 573 Sammy Sosa 715 Sammy Sosa 304 Brian Giles 685 Brian Giles 301 Luis Gonzalez 679 Gary Sheffield 284 BOBBY ABREU 653 BOBBY ABREU 245 Gary Sheffield 646 Luis Gonzalez 237 Vladimir Guerrero 636 Vladimir Guerrero 210 Larry Walker 577 Larry Walker 201 Andruw Jones 530 Jim Edmonds 197 Lance Berkman 505 Lance Berkman 185
Pretty impressive, huh?
As for whether or not he deserves your vote for the final spot on the NL team this season, hopefully I presented enough information to make you a believer already. If not, it’s worth noting that he is having a far superior first-half than the other four candidates for the “Final Vote” contest. Here are the specific numbers …
VORP RC RCAA Bobby Abreu 44.3 75 39 Aramis Ramirez 33.5 58 17 Steve Finley 28.5 59 10 Jason Kendall 16.6 43 6 Juan Pierre 13.3 46 -4
Forget John Kerry. Forget George Bush. If you’re only going to vote once in 2004, make it a vote for Bobby Abreu.
Voting ends Wednesday, at 8 p.m. Eastern, so vote early and vote often.