Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

You are here > Home > Hall of Merit > Discussion
Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Bobby Abreu

Eligible 2020

DL from MN Posted: January 15, 2019 at 12:59 PM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. DL from MN Posted: January 15, 2019 at 01:01 PM (#5805709)
Sosa v Abreu v Giles is an interesting comparison. They all seem pretty similar to Vlad Guerrero also.
   2. bachslunch Posted: January 15, 2019 at 02:18 PM (#5805742)
I'm pretty Bobby Abreu will be on my HoM ballot, maybe in the 8th slot or thereabouts. Haven't looked closely yet, though.
   3. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 15, 2019 at 02:51 PM (#5805753)
Bobby Abreu is an interesting case and at this point I'm really not sure where he's going to land for me. BB-Ref puts his career WAR at 60.0, which I think is pretty much exactly the in/out borderline - at least for those of us who find it easiest to think in nice round numbers. Fangraphs has him at 59.6, so, again, right there. My system is on a different scale, but if you convert my numbers to the same scale as WAR (either one - BB-Ref and Fangraphs use the same replacement level), I get 63.2 "eWAR" (eWins adjusted to the same scale as WAR) or 62.0 pWAR (pWins adjusted to the same scale as WAR).

So there's nothing really unusual going on here. Everybody seems in pretty strong agreement about what Bobby Abreu's career was worth.

The problem I have with his case, I think, is that he was never really a "star". That's a subjective term, of course. But, for example (and I'm not suggesting that the numbers I'm about to cite should factor into a measure of his "Merit"), he only made two All-Star teams, he won a single Gold Glove and a single Silver Slugger. He got MVP votes 7 times, but never finished higher than 12th. Per BB-Ref, he was in the top 10 in his league in WAR, exactly once: 9th in the 1999 NL, and he was never higher than 7th in his league in WAR among position players.

Beyond simple wins and losses, I calculate three measures that I name "Wins over". Average, which we've discussed quite a bit - but, again, I don't think there's anything unusual about my calculation of Bobby Abreu's positional average. Replacement level - which really helps Abreu, who played 150 or more games for 13 consecutive seasons. And then I calculate what I call "Wins over Star" (WO*). I set replacement level one standard deviation below average, so I set star as the mirror image - one standard deviation above average. Abreu has positive WOPA (wins over positional average) 11 or 12 times (his eWOPA was just below zero, pWOPA just above zero in 2007), which is excellent. But he only has positive WO* 3 or 4 times and just barely in every case. His career eWO* (ignoring negative numbers, this is just the sum of the positives) is 0.8. Mike Trout has beaten that by at least 0.5 wins EVERY SINGLE SEASON OF HIS CAREER (except for his 40-game age-19 2011 season).

Trout is obviously an unfair comparison - he'll be #1 on my HOM ballot the first season he's eligible. But, say, Andy Pettitte, who's another guy whose case is being very good for a long time more than ever necessarily being great, has 2.9 career eWO* - more than three times as much as Abreu.

Jason Giambi is actually an interesting comp. In my system, Abreu earned 77 more eWins and 1.4 more eWORL (wins over replacement level - my replacement level is a bit higher than FanGraphs/BB-Ref). They're not that different in eWOPA, but Giambi wins, 15.2 - 12.8, and Giambi has two seasons (2000-01) with more eWO* than Abreu earned in his career: Giambi beats Abreu in career eWO* (again, I'm only counting positive numbers), 5.2 - 0.8

The numbers I've used to construct my ballots in past years have tended to favor peaks: Dwight Gooden, for example, has tended to be in the middle of my ballots; of 1930s pitchers, Dizzy Dean tends to be at the top of my ballots. So, for example, I tend to view Giambi as a much stronger candidate than Abreu. If I continue that trend, Abreu will likely end up off-ballot for me. But if I shift my focus, instead, to average and replacement level, Abreu could slide onto my ballot, perhaps as high as into my top 10. I tend to take the philosophy in terms of a player's Hall-of-Fame case that I'll evaluate it in the way most favorable to the player. So, if you can make a case for a guy in the Hall, I'd support him. But that doesn't really work as well with HOM voting where you have to rank the players relative to each other.

Bottom line: Abreu's a player that I definitely need to think about some more.
   4. Jaack Posted: January 15, 2019 at 08:21 PM (#5805857)
Abreu comes in as pretty similar to Dave Winfield for me, if a bit lower. But since I'm rather low on Winfield, Abreu looks to slot into the mid-40s in ballot position. He had seven years as a star, but as a really borderline one - he was never really a top 10 player in baseball in any given season. I don't think he has enough prime/career to make up for his low peak.
   5. progrockfan Posted: January 16, 2019 at 08:59 AM (#5805919)
I really like Abreu's combination of high OBP (.395, with 8 consecutive seasons of 100+ walks), consistent medium-range power (574 doubles in just 8480 at bats), high-percentage base stealing (400 steals at a 75.8% rate), solid defense (ten top-5 finishes in putous, seven top-5 finishes in assists), and durability (averaging 156 games played over a 13-year span, twice leading the league).

He doesn't have much of a peak (he led once each in doubles, triples, and walks) and was never viewed as the best player in his league (only two All-Star appearances, and his top finish in MVP voting was 12th).

For me, the word that describes Abreu best is 'consistent' - and at a comfortably high level too. I think he makes my ballot fairly high.

Jeter clearly debuts ahead of Abreu. Among returnees I see Taylor, Easter and Schang as clearly ahead, and likely Rizzuto as well. Helton and Bonds I have to study more closely before making a determination. I don't see any returning pitchers as clearly ahead - but bit by bit I am being persuaded towards Santana as a serious candidate.

Bob Johnson, who got a lot of mid-ballot love in 2019 (and who I like a lot), strikes me as a quite reasonable comp.
   6. Rob_Wood Posted: January 16, 2019 at 10:50 AM (#5805950)
My current starting point in these discussions is CPASR (career pennant-added using a sliding replacement level). Here is Abreu and some other players:

.907 Tim Raines
.886 Reggie Smith
.857 Dwight Evans
.828 Andre Dawson
.827 Bobby Bonds
.824 Billy Williams
.807 Jimmy Wynn
.801 Bobby Abreu
.794 Vlad Guerrero
.790 Sammy Sosa
.715 Dave Winfield
.708 Brian Giles
.705 Cesar Cedeno
.669 Johnny Damon
.660 Bernie Williams
.649 Vada Pinson
.629 Jason Giambi
   7. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 16, 2019 at 02:52 PM (#5806075)
A huge feather in Abreu's cap is his situational/contextual valuations.

From baseball-reference, his raw batting runs are at 418.1, converted to RE24 contextual at 570.2, moving his raw batting wins from 39.0 to 53.1, or +14.1 wins! In addition, his "clutch" score is a +4.4.

My question for the electorate: how much do we factor contextual measures like this into our analysis?

All fields, balanced hitters like Abreu had real team win value in this situations, where as boom-bust sluggers like Sammy Sosa were truly awful and detrimental to team wins and losses. Sammy's at 30.6 raw batting wins and 35.6 RE24 for a +5 wins, but he's an all-time worst level of clutch at -17.0 I'd take Sosa in a context neutral setting over Abreu, thanks to a stronger/peak prime, career value is relatively similar, but my gut says to flip the switch and take Abreu after factoring in situational value. The B-R measures are also borne out in the work Kiko has done for Sammy, with Sosa earning 38.1 neutral wins and 30.4 tied to team wins, although Abreu doesn’t seem to move the needle at 35.4 neutral and 34.8 tied to team victories.

Also, would like to give a big thanks to the discussions here of late, great stuff. I'm more of a reader than contributor, owing partially to too much work and finally a personal life to enjoy : )
   8. GregD Posted: January 16, 2019 at 03:42 PM (#5806104)
I forget the pitcher that Bill James used to show how rearranging a few seasons in a way that didn't change overall value would make a huge difference in HOF cases. Was it Blyleven?

Abreu is the same, I think. Give him a little less consistency and more variance, and an Abreu2 would get more support (and might arguably be more valuable even with similar career stats.) Even moving 400 walks to 315 singles (or whatever is the best conversion) and 100 doubles to roughly 65 homeruns might make a difference in how he's seen (unfairly.)

He fits a good number of Bill James' checklist for what causes players to be undervalued

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.



<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF


Thanks to
for his generous support.


You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.


Page rendered in 0.2757 seconds
59 querie(s) executed