Analytics could give Phillies Bobby Abreu a Hall of Fame case in 2020
While his enshrinement is unlikely Phillies star Bobby Abreu has a case for the Hall of Fame.
Phillies fans are more than likely to see ace Roy Halladay inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019. He’ll be just the third former Phillie in the last decade to be inducted, joining Jim Thome and Pedro Martinez.
After Halladay a flood of former Phillies will have their opportunity to be inducted. Candidates likely to return to the ballot next year include Curt Schilling, Billy Wagner, and Scott Rolen, and several former Phillies are expected to join them on the 2020 ballot.
The Baseball Hall of Fame notes that Cliff Lee and Bobby Abreu are eligible candidates for the ballot next year. While neither is a lock to make the Hall of Fame, let alone match the five percent minimum to remain eligible, Abreu has an interesting case for Cooperstown.
Let’s start with Abreu’s raw numbers, which rounded out quite well for him. The lefty finished with 2,470 hits, 574 doubles, 288 home runs, 1,363 RBI, 400 stolen bases, 60 WAR, and a 128 OPS+.
Abreu’s combination of speed and power could give him a boost among the “old school” voters who look at those raw numbers.
The only players with 550 doubles and 400 stolen bases in major league history: Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, Craig Biggio, Honus Wagner, Paul Molitor, Barry Bonds, Bobby Abreu.
As for the voters who examine advanced metrics, Abreu surprisingly does well in some key categories. A 60 WAR is where MLB Network’s Brian Kenney starts to seriously examine a player for the Hall of Fame, and Abreu hits that right on the mark.
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Additionally, Abreu’s 7-year peak WAR is comparable to other Hall of Fame right fielders. Abreu finished with a 41.6 peak WAR while the average Hall of Fame right fielder’s is 42.9.
Abreu’s JAWS is seven points shy of the average Hall of Fame right fielder, but it rates better than 13 other Hall of Fame outfielders, thought 11 were voted in by some form of a committee other than the BBWA.
Abreu’s JAWS would still rank better than recent inductees Vlad Guerrero and Harold Baines.
In fact, Abreu’s career is comparable to Guerrero’s, minus the home runs, If we put the same amount of emphasis on stolen bases as we did home runs, Abreu would be on the same level as Guerrero.
While Baines’ induction was received very critically, Abreu’s numbers are comparable to Baines’, and Abreu had much more “boldface” on his numbers, indicating when he led the league in a certain category.
Abreu led the league in doubles and triples once each, and became the first modern-day Phillie to hit 50 doubles in a season.
I’m not locking Abreu into Cooperstown anytime soon, and I think he’ll go down as a very good player during his era. Ultimately, I struggle to see him as a Hall of Famer. That doesn’t mean he won’t get some votes as a sign of appreciation towards his career, similar to how Placido Polanco and Michael Young were recognized this year on the ballot.
Don’t be surprised if Abreu gets five percent for a year before falling off the ballot, because those advanced metrics will keep him in the conversation longer than others.