Bobby Abreu

Bobby Abreu Feels Like A Hall Of Very Good Player

Time and again, we see feelings get in the way of what should largely be an objective Hall of Fame voting process. We see Kirby Puckett be a first ballot player while Kenny Lofton failing to garner the requisite 5% to stay on the ballot despite Lofton having a significantly higher WAR.

Much of the reason for that disparity in the voting was how voters felt about the players. Puckett felt like a Hall of Famer while apparently the vast majority felt Lofton didn’t.

That’s partially the hurdle Bobby Abreu is facing right now.

In Abreu’s 18 year career, he was an All-Star just two times. He was never in the top 10 in MVP voting, and he only received MVP votes in just seven seasons. He won just Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. Abreu had just two 30 home run seasons, and he batted over .300 six times.

Abreu was a player exposed in the expansion draft. He was obtained from the Tampa Bay Rays for Kevin Stocker. A rebuilding Philadelphia Phillies team basically just contract dumped his salary on the New York Yankees. Late in his career, he was released by the Los Angeles Angels in the midst of a contract most felt was a gross overpay at its inception.

Much of Abreu’s career was spent talking about what he wasn’t more than what he was. There was more talk about his purported fear of fielding balls by the wall than his range. There was talk of his not having the prototypical home run totals for a right fielder while ignoring his doubles and OBP. Fair or not, these were all factors which worked against Abreu in how he was perceived during his playing career. Fair or not, it is something which has seemingly worked against him in Hall of Fame voting.

We see that disparity in how he was perceived against a contemporary player in Vladimir Guerrero. Guerreo was a player who felt like a great player and a Hall of Famer. He had a cannon in right field. He could hit the ball no matter where it was pitched. He was an All-Star nine times, and he was an eight time Silver Slugger.

Guerrero was the 2002 AL MVP, and he had received MVP votes in 11 different seasons finishing in the top 10 five different times. He had eight 30 home run seasons and two 40 home run seasons. He hit over .300 in 13 different seasons. Overall, in his playing days, Guerrero not only felt like a great player, but he also had the aura of a future Hall of Famer. That came to fruition when he was inducted on the second ballot.

During their playing days and even know, Guerrero was seen as the better player. The interesting thing is when you actually break it down, Abreu might’ve been the better player.

Looking at the two players, Abreu’s 60.2 WAR is higher than Guerrero’s 59.5. Abreu has more runs, doubles, triples, walks, and stolen bases while having a higher OBP. Abreu was arguably a better defensive player and base runner than Guerrero. Looking at the expanded Hall of Fame stats, Abreu’s 41.6 WAR7 and 50.9 JAWS were better than Guerrero’s 41.2 and 50.3

So, again, when we are looking at contemporary players with a similar electorate far and away the disparity we are seeing between the two players is how we feel about each player. In the end, Guerrero did the things to reach his WAR totals which felt more comforting to the Hall of Fame voter. By and large more homers and a higher OPS+ or wRC+ were of  more importance to get to a smaller WAR number than Abreu’s which was fueled by better on-base skills, base running, and defense.

Beyond this, there is an interesting debate to be had about Abreu’s Hall of Fame case. His WAR fells fairly well short of the 71.9 average for Hall of Fame right fielders. He didn’t crack 300 homers, but he did have 574 doubles which is fourth most all-time at the position. He’s in the top 20 in OBP at the position. He is very clearly one of the best right fielders in MLB history, but the question for him right now is whether he is truly in that upper echelon who belongs in the Hall of Fame.

For Guerrero, the answer was a resounding yes, but for Abreu, so far, that has been a fairly decided no. When you break it down, the real reason is more because of how people felt about his career while he played and not and not so much because of how he really stacks up against players of his generation and other Hall of Famers.

2000 Game Recap: Mets Homers Provide Enough Cushion For Leaky Bullpen

Well, in this three game series, it appears as if getting a 2-0 lead was a death knell. To that end, it seems fortunate Glendon Rusch walked the first batter of the game before allowing RBI singles to Bobby Abreu and Mike Lieberthal to give the Mets a 2-0 deficit before they ever came up to the plate.

The Mets got one of those runs back when Derek Bell hit a homer off of Cliff Politte in the bottom of the first. It was a much needed hit for Bell who was mired in a real 12-for-88 stretch (.136) at the same time Benny Agbayani and Jay Payton have taken off at the plate.

Just like the Mets did in the first two games of this series, after scoring their first run of the game, their offense went dormant. After Bell’s homer, Politte would retire the next eight Mets in a row. The Mets would get things started again in the fourth when they loaded the bases with two outs, but Todd Zeile struck out to end the inning.

The Mets couldn’t cash in on rallies in this game, but the one thing they were able to do was hit the long ball. In the fifth, Melvin Mora tied the game on a solo homer, and then in the sixth, Payton hit a two run homer to give the Mets a 4-1 lead.

During this time, Rusch had settled in and gone to work after that tough 36 pitch first inning. In the fourth, he got out of jam with runners on first and second with two outs by getting Politte to pop out. In the seventh, he fought through a Robin Ventura error allowing the lead-off batter to reach. Through it all, Rusch pitched seven strong innings allowing just the two earned runs from the first inning while allowing seven hits and one walk. He would also strike out seven.

Rusch was lifted for the pinch hitter Lenny Harris, who hit a one out double. He’d come around to score later that inning on a two out RBI single by Bell. Little did we know it at the time, but the Mets would need that run.

While the Mets bullpen has been leaky of late, Turk Wendell has been good. He had not allowed a run over his last three appearances, and he had allowed runs once over his last eight appearances. Today, he was not good at all, and he nearly blew the game.

The top of the eighth started with a Scott Rolen homer. After that, Wendell walked Lieberthal, and Lieberthal went to second on a Todd Pratt passed ball. Pat Burrell, who at least didn’t homer today, reached safely on Ventura’s second error of the game. Kevin Jordan hit a sacrifice fly pulling the Phillies to within 5-4. Fortunately, Wendell retired Kevin Sefcik to get out of the inning.

Things were not nearly as eventful in the ninth. Beginning his second inning of work, Wendell retired Doug Glanville and Ron Gant. Bobby Valentine then brought in Dennis Cook to get the left-handed Abreu to end the game. With that, Cook had his first save of the season, and the Mets avoided the sweep.

Game Notes: After his time working on things in Triple-A, Bobby Jones is slated to make his next start against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Darryl Hamilton will start his rehab assignment next week. Armando Benitez called Mets fans dumb for booing John Franco yesterday, and he accused Mets fans of only wanting to see the bad. With his two errors today, Ventura passed his error total for all of last season.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

2000 Game Recap: Mets Beaten And Battered By Phillies

Despite the listless Mets offense finally coming to life in Veteran’s Stadium, the Mets would still be beaten and battered in their 9-7 loss against the Phillies.

After all the criticism and booing, Rickey Henderson showed signs of life with a 2-for-4 game. He ignited the Mets offense like he did all last year with a double to open the game against Phillies starter Paul Byrd. Jon Nunnally and Mike Piazza would also double giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.

Then, incredulously Piazza and Robin Ventura executed a double steal. Everyone was shocked at the audacity, including Scott Rolen, who flubbed the play leading to Piazza scoring. Todd Zeile followed with the Mets fourth double of the inning leading to the 4-0 lead.

The Mets lead would last all of one inning as the Phillies destroyed Bobby Jones. The first RBI came from Mike Lieberthal, who would be heard from later, who hit a single scoring Rolen. With the bases loaded, Zeile would later let a Byrd but go through his legs. Doug Glanville then doubled, and there was yet another error in the innings, and suddenly, the Mets 4-0 lead became a 5-4 second inning deficit.

In the fifth, the Mets bounced back to take the lead with a rally again started by Henderson. He singled and stole second, and he moved to third on a Nunnally double. This wasn’t Henderson not running, but rather his waiting to see if Glanville would catch the ball. Both he and Nunnally would score on an Edgardo Alfonzo RBI double. After a Piazza RBI single, the Mets were ahead again 7-5.

It didn’t matter. Jones who seemingly calmed down after that second inning got hit hard again in the fifth with Glanville and Ron Gant hitting doubles. This led to Bobby Valentine coming to get him.

Jones’ start to the season is as troubling a start as there is. He is coming off a season with shoulder injuries, and he was left off the 1999 postseason roster. With the Mets trading away Octavio Dotel in the offseason and Jason Isringhausen at the deadline last year, the Mets may not have the depth like they did last year to sustain his inability to pitch.

Isringhausen’s former Generation K teammates may also be non-factors. Bill Pulsipher lost the battle for the fifth starter spot to Glendon Rusch, and Paul Wilson missed all of last year due to injury. Who knows if they can be factors, but regardless of their actual ability, they may be needed to contribute.

When Jones was lifted, Valentine brought in Rich Rodriguez, who wound up taking the loss in this one. The left-handed reliever not only walked Bobby Abreu, but he threw a wild pitch during the at-bat allowing Gant to go to third. This allowed Gant to score on a Glanville sacrifice fly. After that, Lieberthal hit a two run homer giving the Phillies a 9-7 lead.

Neither team would score from there, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any more plays at the plate. In the sixth, Kevin Sefcik hit a one out triple. Glanville would hit a fly ball to center, and Nunnally would throw the ball home. Piazza held onto the ball as Sefcik delivered a vicious hit to Piazza. Really, it was one of the most vicious hits you will ever see a catcher take.

Piazza was staggered, but he was able to get to the dugout himself, and surprisingly, he was able to stay in the game. He would strike out in the seventh in what was his last plate appearance in the game. Like Piazza, the rest of the Mets offense couldn’t do much of anything in the later innings leading to the 9-7 loss dropping the Mets to two games under .500.

If you want a bright spot, Henderson seems to have responded to early drama, and Nunnally is slowly showing he could be a real viable option in center. We also saw Alfonzo’s and Piazza’s bats come alive. However, if the Mets pitching, whether it Jones in the rotation, or the bullpen who has now blown two straight leads, don’t get things together, the Mets are going to find themselves in real trouble at some point.

Game Notes: After missing a start to end the homestand against the Dodgers, Al Leiter appears ready to go in his next scheduled start. The Mets bullpen has so far allowed seven homers through their first eight games.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

Baseball Hall of Fame Needs To Change The Five Percent Rule

Over the past few years, we have seen some players who deserved longer looks and deeper analysis fall off the Hall of Fame ballot for their failure to receive five percent of the vote. This puts sometimes deserving and borderline players in a limbo hoping and waiting they receive eventual consideration from the Veteran’s Committee.

Carlos Delgado fell off the ballot after receiving just 3.8% of the vote. That happened despite his having more homers than Jeff Bagwell and Tony Perez. He had a better OBP than Harmon Killebrew and Willie McCovey. He also had a higher slugging than Eddie Murray. Overall, his 138 OPS+ was higher than Bill Terry and Frank Chance.

Now, you could also argue he wasn’t up to Hall of Fame standards, but that debate never really could develop as he fell off the ballot.

We saw similar problems in center field with Kenny Lofton receiving 3.2% of the vote in 2013 and Jim Edmonds receiving 2.5% of the vote in 2016.

Lofton had a higher WAR than Andre Dawson, who was inducted in 2010. He also has a higher WAR than Andruw Jones, who is appearing on the ballot for a third time this year. On that point, he is teetering himself with his just receiving 7.5% last year.

Edmonds is just a hair behind Dawson in career WAR, but he is also well ahead of Kirby Puckett. Notably, Edmonds trails just Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., and Torii Hunter in Gold Gloves won by a center fielder. Notably, his eight are the same amount as Dawson. Given how comparable he is to Dawson, you’d think he would get a longer look. He didn’t.

The same could be made about any number of candidates. Hideki Matsui had over 500 professional homers. Johan Santana had a higher WAR and ERA+ than Sandy Koufax. John Franco has more saves than any left-handed closer, and he has a higher ERA+ than Hall of Fame closers Bruce Sutter, Rich Gossage, and Dennis Eckersley. Finally, David Cone presents his own interesting case. All of these players were one and one on the ballot.

We will likely see the same happen to Bobby Abreu this year despite his having a better WAR, WAR7, and JAWS than recently inducted Vladimir Guerrero. He also has more doubles, triples, stolen bases, walks, and a higher OBP. Keep in mind, Guerrero was inducted just last year making the votes on the two players quite disparate despite having the same electorate.

All of these players hope to one day have the same chance Lou Whitaker now has.

Back in 2001, Whitaker only received 2.1% of the vote, which to this day, is plain wrong. Looking at WAR, Whitaker is the seventh best second baseman of all-time, and the third best at the position to debut after World War II.

He accumulated more hits than Tony Lazzeri and Johnny Evers. He scored more runs than Red Schoendienst and Jackie Robinson. He has more doubles than Ryne Sandberg and Nellie Fox. He has more triples than Craig Biggio and Bill Mazeroski. He has more stolen bases than Rogers Hornsby and Billy Herman. Overall, his OPS+ is higher than Roberto Alomar‘s and Bobby Doerr‘s

By any measure, Whitaker should be in the Hall of Fame, and yet because of the five percent rule, he has not yet been inducted. Looking at Whitaker and other cases, it is probably time the rule gets changed.

Conceptually, the five percent rule makes sense. A player does not come to vote until five years after his career is over. Ideally, this means voters have had an opportunity to assess a career in full and make a determination. However, in practice, it does not quite turn out that way.

Really, when there are fringe and overlooked candidates, there is usually someone championing them leading to them getting more attention, and eventually, induction. Bert Blyleven received 17.6% of the vote in his first year of eligibility, and he was inducted on his final year on the ballot. Tim Raines received 24.3% in his first year and was inducted on his last year. Hopefully, we will see something similar happen with Larry Walker.

The point is for every Mariano Rivera and Tom Seaver there are a number of Hall of Famers who have needed years of analysis and debate. By taking players off the ballot after one year, we are all losing the opportunity to have deeper analysis and debate about players who may well belong in the Hall of Fame.

There has to be a better way especially when we see a top 10 second baseman like Whitaker fall off the ballot. Perhaps, that rule could be relaxed for a year and moved to a player’s second year of eligibility. Perhaps, the Hall of Fame could tier the percent of the vote needed to keep a player on the ballot.

For example, to stay on the ballot after one year you only need just one vote. After the first year, you need five percent of the vote with the threshold rising roughly two percent each year so you need 18% of the vote to make it onto the final year on the ballot.

Structuring the vote this way allows for more debate about players while also presenting an opportunity to remove players who have not swayed the vote in a particular direction. Certainly, this type of system would be better than just disregarding players after one year, lamenting it, and then hoping someone corrects the error a decade or so later.

IBWAA Hall of Fame Vote – Vladimir Guerrero

There are a number of interesting candidates to the Hall of Fame ballot this year.  They are interesting for a multitude of reasons.  There are a group of players who are still tainted by steroids.  There are players who were important members of teams that won multiple World Series titles.  There were also some players who were among the best at their position.  Despite all of that, I am only voting for

Vladimir Guerrero

Stats: 16 seasons, .318/.379/.553, 477 2B, 46 3B, 449 HR, 1,496 RBI, 181 SB

Advanced: 59.3 WAR, 41.1 WAR7, 50.2 JAWS

Awards: 8X Silver Slugger, 9X All Star, 2004 AL MVP

What is interesting about Guerrero is there is a chasm here.  The chasm is the player I perceived Guerrero to be during his playing career, and the player advanced statistics did not like as much as I did.

Looking at the advanced statistics, Guerrero falls short of induction.  The average right fielder has amassed a 73.2 WAR, 43.0 WAR7, and a 58.1 JAWS.  Realistically speaking, Guerrero only comes close in terms of WAR7, and he is still short on that front.  It is also interesting that Larry Walker has cleared each of those thresholds, and yet, he has been trouble gaining traction in Hall of Fame voting.

Another startling fact was Guerrero is actually behind Bobby Abreu, who I do not perceive as a Hall of Famer, in all of those advanced stats.  Ultimately, if Guerrero would be inducted into the Hall of Fame, he would be one of the worst right fielders ever inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Despite the advanced stats, I voted for him anyway.

In his career, Guerrero was as exciting a player as you would see step onto the baseball field.  Not only would he literally swing at anything, he could also hit anything:

He also had one of the strongest arms you will ever see on a baseball field:

Guerrero was why you come to the ballpark, but admittedly, that isn’t enough to deserve enshrinement in Cooperstown.  There has to be a better reason, and there is.

With Guerrero’s 449 homers, he would be the only right fielder with over 400 homers not inducted into the Hall of Fame not named Jose Canseco.  Of all right fielders, he ranks sixth all-time in slugging percentage.  Of the five ahead of him, the only ones not elected in the Hall of Fame are Walker (still eligible), and Juan Gonzalez (steroids).  With 972 extra base hits, he would be the first right fielder with over 950 extra base hits, that has been Hall of Fame eligible and not tainted by steroids, that is not inducted in the Hall of Fame.  To demonstrate how feared a hitter he was, Guerrero ranks fifth all-time in intentional walks, with him leading the league in intentional walks on five different occasions.

On top of this, Guerrero has a good .312 batting average and a respectable .379 on base percentage.  Looking at those numbers, it begs the question over why Guerrero’s advanced statistics are so low.

Well, the first reason is base running.  Guerrero was not the most successful of base stealers only being successful 65.8% of the time.  For example, in the year he reached a career high 40 stolen bases in his quest to reach 40/40, he was caught stealing a league leading 20 times.  Overall, Guerrero has been asserted to be among the worst base runners of all time.  In fact, it has been said he is the worst non-catcher base runner of all time.

Between that and advanced statistics, pre-StatCast, not loving his defense, Guerrero went from a hitter certainly worth of enshrinement to a player that advanced statistics indicate should be on the outside looking in.  Guerrero has lost 10.7 in WAR due to his defense and an additional three due to his base running.  Between the two, that is 13.7 lost in WAR.  If you were to add that back, Guerrero’s career WAR would be 73, which is right on the cusp for enshrinement.

This isn’t to say defense and base running don’t matter.  It also isn’t to say the WAR calculations are definitively wrong.  Rather, it does leave room for the concept that maybe the data would be calculated differently, especially in the StatCast era, that would be beneficial to Guerrero.  It also leaves room for the idea that much of the issues with base running and defense were associated with him spending much of his career playing for Felipe Alou and Mike Scioscia, two managers who demanded an aggressive, some would say reckless, base running style.  They are also two managers not well know for their adherence to advanced data, which could have helped with Guerrero’s defense.

Again, this is just leaving room, and it is not making excuses for the areas in the game where Guerrero has been alleged to have been lacking.

Overall, Guerrero, a former MVP, was one of the best players in baseball during his playing career, and he was certainly a player that outshone his peers.  Ultimately, he deserves induction to Cooperstown.

Mets Signed Another PED User

Sometimes things are coincidences. You are at the wrong place at the wrong time by happenstance even if no one will believe it. Other times you’re Sandy Alderson, and you actively pursue steroid guys.

Sandy Alderson was the GM of the late 80’s Oakland A’s teams that had been seen as the ground zero for the proliferation of steroid usage (fair or not). For his part, Alderson denied having knowledge of the steroids use. Interestingly enough, his manager, Tony La Russa was well aware. Now, Alderson has not played stupid by acknowledging he suspected some but not all players. He also expressed regret for not taking a bigger stand against PED usage. 

For me personally, these words ring hollow. No, I’m not calling him a liar. That’s unfair, and I don’t know him well enough to do that. However, what I will say is that for a GM looking to take a bigger stand against PEDs, he certainly likes adding those player. Here are the know PED users signed by Sandy Alderson during his tenure as the Mets GM:

  1. Ronny Paulino 
  2. Marlon Byrd
  3. Bartolo Colon
  4. Bobby Abreu
  5. Asdrubal Cabrera

Is this list appalling?  Well, it depends on your point-of-view.  Keep in mind this list doesn’t include farm hands that may have been suspended, not does it include the Jenrry Mejia was was suspended TWICE last year for PEDs and was tendered a contract. Overall, Alderson is averaging about one steroid signing a year. 

There are two thoughts I have. The first is his ultimate responsibility is to put the best team he can assemble on the field. At times, this may include PED players. The second thought I have is for a guy who supposedly wanted to take a larger role against PED usage, he certainly isn’t helping by signing those players. 

I do find it harder to root for the PED guys. It’s part of the reason I’m in the minority when it comes to all this Bartolo Colon love. Ideally, the Mets wouldn’t sign these guys even though I acknowledge players like Byrd have greatly benefitted the Mets.

Apparently, Sandy Alderson doesn’t feel the same way I do.