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Analysis

Will Bobby Abreu make the Hall of Fame?


Bobby Abreu spent the bulk of his career with the Phillies. (Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)

Last Tuesday, the official results from the 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame voting were revealed. While much of the attention among Phillies fans was on how newcomers to the ballot Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard fared, it is worth noting where one of their former teammates, Bobby Abreu, landed.

In his third season on the ballot, Abreu received just 8.6% of the vote after getting 8.7% last year. In his first season on the ballot in 2020, Abreu received 5.5%, just enough to keep him on the ballot.

Clearly, Abreu isn’t yet trending towards the 75% threshold a player needs to reach the Hall of Fame. But that doesn’t mean that the former Phillie has no case.

Some Phillies fans may not remember Abreu as a Hall of Fame-level player. His peak came at an unfortunate time, as the early 2000s featured players like Barry Bonds putting up astronomical numbers at the height of The Steroid Era.

Additionally, Abreu was never part of a team that reached the postseason with the Phillies. The Phillies went 75-87 in 1998, Abreu’s first season with the team. And while he was teammates with Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and many of the pieces that would make up the 2007-2011 core, the Phillies traded him to the New York Yankees in July of 2006, a year before they would end a lengthy playoff drought.

But, despite how many might remember Abreu, the numbers tell the story of a player deserving of serious Hall of Fame consideration.

Abreu had a 128 OPS+ over his 18-year career, including a 139 OPS+ during the peak of his career, a nine-year stretch that lasted from 1998-2006. Eight-and-a-half of those seasons were spent with the Phillies.

While Abreu did not hit for the level of power that many of his peers did, his ability to get on base was impressive. He finished his career with a .390 on-base percentage, and had eight individual seasons with an on-base percentage above .400 — something only 14 other players since 1990 have done.

Even zooming out and taking a look at counting stats — which have traditionally been used to build a player’s Hall of Fame case — Abreu has a chance. While he didn’t quite get to the 3,000 hit mark, he finished with over 2,470 hits and 1,476 walks.

Only 21 players have finished their career with more than 2,400 hits and 1,400 walks. How many of these players are not in the Hall of Fame? Only four; Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, Pete Rose — all players who would have plaques in Cooperstown if it was only about the numbers — and Abreu.

Abreu flashed some serious speed as well. He is one of just eight players to debut after 1995 and steal at least 400 bases.

Building a case for Abreu is no difficult chore, but only one question really matters: Will Abreu actually get voted in?

Abreu did not gain votes this year, but will be helped by players like Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling no longer being on the ballot. Next year’s ballot features a relatively weak group of newcomers, making it a good year to gain momentum towards the 75% mark.

There are some analytics darlings who will get a push before Abreu, including his former teammate Scott Rolen. But ultimately, Abreu figures to gain some level of traction the longer he is on the ballot.

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