Does Bobby Abreu belong in the Hall-of-Fame?
The Low Bar (or the Harold Baines Test):
Regular readers will know that my first test for any player to be included in the Hall-of-Fame is what I call the “Harold Baines Test.” In short, a player must have a lifetime WAR (Baseball-Reference) above that of Harold Baines. If the player’s lifetime WAR is below that of Baines, it is my opinion that he does not belong in the Hall-of-Fame. Ranked by WAR, Harold Baines comes in as the 552nd best player of all-time with a WAR of 38.7. This is the low bar. There are literally hundreds of players better than Baines who are not in the Hall-of-Fame. We have no business electing players who rank lower than Baines.
The good news for Bobby Abreu is that his WAR (60.0) blows away that of Harold Baines. Abreu is 189th all-time.
With the Low Bar Test passed, let’s examine Abreu’s candidacy a little more in detail.
Awards, Honors, and the Like:
It seems logical to assume that a Hall-of-Fame player would have received a good deal of honors and awards during his playing days.
Unfortunately, this category is one that does not help Abreu’s cause.
Bobby Abreu was an All-Star only twice in his twice in his 18 year career. Abreu also won only one Gold Glove. He won one Silver Slugger Award and never won an MVP.
Abreu also didn’t often lead the league in any categories. The following are his only league leading totals:
1999 – Led the National League in triples (11)
2001, 2005 – Led the National League in games played (162)
2002 – Led the National League in doubles (50)
In his career, Abreu hit .300 or better in six seasons. That’s very good.
He hit 30 or more homers only twice. That’s not so great for a player with his profile looking at the Hall-of-Fame.
All of this, combined, seems rather lacking for a Hall-of-Famer.
This category also does not help Bobby Abreu.
He ended his career shy of 3,000 hits. He was actually shy of 2,500 hits with 2,470.
He didn’t hit 300 homers – ending with 288.
Abreu’s lifetime batting average wasn’t .300. Instead, he finished at .291.
For a career, Abreu put up a 291/.395/.475 slash line with 288 homers, 1,363 RBI’s, 574 doubles, and 2,470 hits. Bobby Abreu was a very very very good player. He just wasn’t great.
JAWS By Position:
We have to ask, is Bobby Abreu the best outfielder, as ranked by JAWS, who is not yet in the Hall-of-Fame?
This ranking actually supports Abreu’s case, at least a bit.
Bobby Abreu ranks as the 20th best right fielder in baseball history if ranked by JAWS. That’s something.
Abreu ranks above Dave Winfield and Vlad Guerrero among modern players and a host of older players including Enos Slaughter, Willie Keeler, Sam Rice, Kiki Cuyler, and Chuck Klein. This would indicate that including Abreu in the Hall wouldn’t be a bad thing. He ranks among or ahead of some Hall-of-Famers by this metric.
Next, we look at the players ranked above Abreu by JAWS. This doesn’t help his cause. The players ranked above Abreu who are not in the Hall-of-Fame are: Larry Walker, Joe Jackson (not eligible), Dwight Evans, Reggie Smith, Ichiro Suzuki (not yet eligible), and Sammy Sosa. This, unfortunately, gives us pause.
Reggie Smith? Is Reggie Smith a Hall-of-Famer? I don’t think so. I also know that a lot of people are high on Dwight Evans as a Hall-of-Famer right now. He was good, very good, but when he played, most people didn’t say, “There is Dewey Evans. He’s a future Hall-of-Famer.” (I just was looking through some old Yankees yearbooks. In some they would list the stars from the other teams that the Yankees would be playing. The yearbook listed Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, and Carl Yastrzemski as players fans should come out to see play. The yearbooks didn’t mention Evans.)
No, the JAWS test doesn’t help ol’ Bobby Abreu at all.
Most Similar Players:
Baseball Reference lists the ten most similar players to each MLB player for their career. For Bobby Abreu, the ten most similar players to his career are not Hall-of-Famers. None. Zero.
The most similar players were all very good, but none have reached baseball’s hallowed halls. These players are: Luis Gonzalez, Bernie Williams, Dwight Evans, Garret Anderson, Torii Hunter, Dave Parker, Chili Davis, Steve Finley, Johnny Damon, and Vada Pinson.
That’s a collection of very good outfielders.
That’s not a collection of Hall-of-Famers.
Bobby Abreu was a Yankee for two and a half seasons. He his .295/43/243 as a Yankee. He was a fun player to have on the team. I liked Bobby Abreu.
He was a very good Yankee. He was a very good baseball player.
But Bobby Abreu was not a Hall-of-Famer.