Tag: Bobby Abreu

Which Yankees will follow Derek Jeter to Cooperstown?

Sabathia. (Arturo Pardavilla III – CC BY 2.0)

Official announcement of Derek Jeter’s induction to the Hall of Fame will occur later today. It’ll be the second straight year featuring a Yankee, with Mariano Rivera entering Cooperstown last summer. But after these two prominent Yankees, who’s next?

Returning to the ballot for 2021

There are a number of ex-Yankees already on the ballot that will return for the next round of voting. Some are more notable than others.

On numbers alone, Roger Clemens belongs in the Hall. The Rocket spent six of his 24 seasons with the Yankees, though his best seasons were elsewhere. But more important than performance, his case is marred by allegations of statutory rape of a minor and PED usage.

Andy Pettitte will return to the ballot for a third time, but will likely fall short again. He received a respectable 9.9 percent of the votes last year; we’ll see how that shifts this season. Pettitte was a great Yankee, but falls short of Hall-worthiness statistically speaking. His link to PEDs won’t help his case anyway.

Gary Sheffield spent three seasons in pinstripes but absolutely raked while doing so (135 OPS+). He hasn’t received any higher than 13.6 percent of the vote and next year will be his seventh try. Again, PED allegations hinder his electability in spite of 509 career homer runs.

As long as they get 5 percent of the vote, Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu will return to the ballot for a second time next year. Giambi won’t make it, but he was fun to watch hit in the Bronx from 2002 through 2008. Similarly, Abreu is going to fall short.

Ballot newcomers

Here are some notable names coming to the ballot in future years:

YearPlayers
2021AJ Burnett, Nick Swisher
2022Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira
2023Carlos Beltrán

This is a pretty interesting group upcoming. Burnett, Swisher, and Teixeira all fall short by the numbers, though of that trio, Teix seemed to be on the track at one point. The switch-hitting first baseman really fell off after 2011, his age-31 season. Through that point, he had 314 homers, a 132 OPS+, and 44.1 bWAR. But he only rebounded for one more big season — 2015 — before he retired after his age-36 season a year later. Teixeira finished with 409 homers and just under 52 WAR. A very good career, no doubt, but he just didn’t have the longevity.

Things get much more intriguing when you consider A-Rod and Beltrán. The former’s lifetime numbers are historically great: he swatted 696 homers, recorded 3,115 hits, and accumulated 117.8 WAR. However, and this is a big one: he served a season-long PED suspension in 2014. And that wasn’t the first time he used PEDs, either. In 2009, he admitted to using back when he was with the Rangers. So, even though the numbers would make him a slam dunk, the drug usage almost assuredly will keep him out of Cooperstown.

Then there’s Beltrán. Before the recent news that has dominated the baseball world, I figured Beltrán would enter the Hall eventually. He’s got the sabermetric case with just under 70 WAR, though I’m not certain people thought of him as a shoe-in. Anyway, the decision to elect him may not be so difficult after all. His transgressions in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal will undoubtedly adversely affect his candidacy. He was explicitly called out in the Commissioner’s report which will do quite a bit of damage.

The next inductee: CC Sabathia

Bobby already wrote about why Sabathia belongs in Cooperstown, so no need to rehash here. We just have to play the waiting game now. Sabathia will be eligible in five years and hopefully will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. After Jeter, he’s clearly the next individual in line to don a Yankees cap in the Hall of Fame.

Down the road

Looking forward to being 50 years-old in 2040 when Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Gerrit Cole (among others) go into the Hall as Yankees, you guys. Anyway, for fun, allow me to power rank the top five current Yankees most likely to get a plaque:

  1. Gleyber Torres
  2. Giancarlo Stanton
  3. Gerrit Cole
  4. Aaron Judge
  5. Aroldis Chapman

Time for some rapid-fire thoughts on this. I feel like picking Gleyber is bold given some of the accomplishments others on this list have, but I’ll do it no less. Stanton already has 309 homers and is just 31 years-old. Cole has a chance to cement himself as the best pitcher of his generation. Judge has Hall of Fame talent but will need a strong late career considering he didn’t start until he was 25 and has missed time because of injuries. Lastly, Chapman could end his career with the highest strikeout rate of all-time and very high up on the all-time saves list. That said, his domestic violence suspension should give voters pause.

Bobby Abreu’s Compelling Hall of Fame Case is Just A Little Too Light

Yesterday, I took a look at Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame candidacy, specifically arguing that he should be a unanimous selection. That kicked off what will be a series of articles examining the candidacies of each of the players on the 2020 ballot with connections to the Yankees. Up today is Bobby Abreu, who actually has a pretty compelling case for Cooperstown. Much more compelling than you might think, in fact.

Abreu, along with Cory Lidle, came to the Yankees at the 2006 trade deadline in a deal for C.J. Henry, Jesus Sanchez, Carlos Monasterios, and Matt Smith. He remained a Yankee through the 2008 season. Although these years memorable for the wrong reasons, Abreu was a star in pinstripes. He hit .295/.378/.465 (124 wRC+) with an 11.6% walk rate in more than 1,600 plate appearances for the Bombers. In hindsight, this is one of the better trades in recent Yankee history. He was also very fun to root for. I have fond memories of the Yankee version of Abreu.

His production with New York was just more of the same for the right fielder, who was a bonafide star for the better part of 13 seasons. In just under 2,500 career games, Abreu hit .291/.395/.475 (129 wRC+) with a 15% walk rate, 288 home runs, and nearly 600 doubles. Adding to his value, he stole 400 bases and is a two-time member of the 30-30 club. That is a damn impressive career.

All of this is why Abreu logged an even 60 bWAR (58.2 fWAR) in his career. He was a 5+ win player in seven consecutive seasons (1998-2004), worth 41.6 wins in his seven-year peak. As Bill Baer pointed out the other day, the only outfielders more valuable in this stretch were Barry Bonds and Andruw Jones. Abreu had a no-doubt Hall of Fame peak.

All told, this adds up to a 50.8 JAWS. He ranks 20th all-time among right fielders by the metric, sandwiched in between Dave Winfield and Vladimir Guerrero, both of whom are enshrined in Cooperstown. Many other enshrined players sit below him on the list of right fielders, including Enos Slaughter, Willie Keeler, and Harry Hooper.

That, though, is Abreu’s problem: none of those players suited up for a game after 1959. Standards changed. If elected, Abreu would have one of the weaker resumes for his position. That’s true even with some of his more sabermetric bonafides.

Another point against him is the lack of traditional hardware. He was only twice an All-Star and only won one Silver Slugger. He did not an MVP, nor a World Series. This matters less to me than others–most of this is out of his control–but it is worth noting. It suggests, after all, that he was never the best at his position. It’s only fair to note, though, that he was always among the best.

And then there is defense. Abreu’s reputation for being “afraid of walls” has taken on a life of its own, and it is true he was never the sturdiest defender. That will only count against him, too. Like with Jeter, though, a lack of defensive value is calculated into WAR. (Again, to be fair, Abreu did win a Gold Glove.) With that in mind, by WAR, Abreu has a case, one that stands up against other Hall of Fame outfielders.

Taken in total, Abreu was a fantastic player, often among the game’s best. He essentially reached base 40% of the time in 2,500 professional games– Abreu excelled at simply not getting out. This is not a skill to take lightlyHis career counting stats are equally impressive and he played for 18 seasons. He is a true borderline case, though he falls just a bit short for me, though I could be convinced otherwise.

Corner outfielders with high on-base skills often get underrated or overlooked by fans. Abreu is no different. Fans outside of the sabermetric community typically scoff at the idea of his enshrinement. That is not fair to Abreu: he was the sort of player who any team would want. We all saw that as Yankee fans, even several years after his peak. He is very reminiscent of Bernie Williams in this regard: a damn fine player who falls just a bit short of the Hall of Fame.

His election would not be an outrage, unlikely as it may be. In fact, I’d cheer it–it would be yet another sign that voters are taking a more nuanced approach to their process. That’s good news. Overall, his case is a complicated one.

At the end of the day, though, Abreu’s case falls just a bit short for me. On the other hand, “was an outfielder better than Bobby Abreu” feels like an appropriate question to ask for potential enshrinement. If the answer is yes, then that player is worthy of the Hall; if no, they are not. That is a high compliment to Abreu, and it is worthy of a player whose career is very much worth remembering.

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