Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 17, 2009 02:00 PM Comments: 82
Career w/Phillies: .303 AVG / 195 HR / 814 RBI / 254 SB
In 1997, the Phillies traded longtime shortstop Kevin Stocker to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In return, the Phils received outfielder Bob Abreu, a soon-to-be 24-year-old roster filler who performed invisibly for the Astros a year previously. Abreu was selected by the Rays in the expansion draft, but that same day Tampa thought they wouldn’t need a potential fifth outfielder candidate. Little did they know who Abreu would become. The Phils, however, would reap those benefits.
Abreu would run off a nine-year career where he’d break .300 six times. He’d break 100 runs six times. Somehow he’d break 100 runs batted in five more times as a Phillie. To be short, Abreu was a complete offensive machine. His specialty was getting on base. Only once during his Phillie career did he finish under .400 in OBP, and that was a .393 mark in 2001, still pretty good. That’s because the patient Abreu walked frequently — he averaged about 105 walks per season as a Phillie. Also a consistent hitter, he averaged close to 175 hits per year.
Abreu’s considerable power was at its best in 2001 (31 HR) and 2004 (30). That season might be his best — he earned his first of two All-Star berths, and a Silver Slugger while finishing third in the NL in steals with a career-high 40. The next season Abreu made a second consecutive All-Star team and rewarded Phillie fans with maybe his most memorable moment: Swatting more than 40 home runs in the Home Run Derby, setting a then-derby record.
Other memorable moments? Remember Abreu’s dribbler that beat Aaron Heilman and the Mets in April 2006? Or his game-winning inside-the-park home run in 2000 against the Giants — one of 15 game-winning inside-the-park homers in baseball history.
But that derby moment stands out because Abreu played for some bad teams. Only later in his Phillie career did he play on better teams, but Abreu’s three postseason opportunities came with different teams, and all were quick exits. In the field Abreu was mediocre, to say the least, but somehow earned a Gold Glove in 2005. There are also some who say the Phils only became a great team when they traded Abreu in 2006. Is it true? Hard to actually admit it, but to be blunt, Abreu was considered the team’s star late in his Phillie days. He could never be the go-to guy, but he was absolutely an offensive juggernaut. Two-time 30-30 player. Seven-time 20-20 player.
Comment: Argue about Abreu’s placement, but glance at those numbers. Simply awesome. Abreu was wildly consistent and produced a career arc that most players would salivate over. His power came as he hit his prime, yet his .300 average remained in tact. He could run, he could hit, he could score, he could play passable defense. Considering Abreu had his best years while Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Vladimir Guerrero and others tore up baseball, one might say Abreu will be looked upon as one of the great underrated players in baseball history. But even simpler: Abreu is absolutely one of the greatest Phillies in history. He opens the top 10.