There is something interesting about the hall of fame. Arguments are made based on a variety of factors that often best suit the narrative you want to push. For instance, it is suitable to focus on awards if you want to support Yadier Molina’s Hall of Fame case like we discussed in last week’s segment. I’m sure that somewhere down the line a small portion of people will focus on postseason success when talking about Madison Bumgarner.
This is not a statement on the case for either one of those players, much less that they have equal odds or could be put together, but that the focal point inevitably becomes the stronger part of a player’s resume, but you cannot ignore outlier play between regular season and the playoffs nor can you ignore the fact that just like voters can struggle and miss a selection, they can also give out awards that should’ve gone to other players.
Ultimately the case for any player must be built around production. Whether you’re looking at a consistent 16-year career of Adrian Beltre or the outlier peak of the great Sandy Koufax, something needs to stand out on the stats page of that particular individual.
It doesn’t really matter if the player won x number of rings if he made a handful or more of All-Star games or even if he ever took home an MVP or Cy Young. Although production is the main factor in any of these individual accolades, there could be extenuating circumstances that cloud their purity.
The next player I’ll talk about as having a borderline Hall of Fame case even if he will never really get in that discussion, well he has half as many all-star appearances as Starlin Castro. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Castro played the beginning and high point of his career for some of the worst Cubs teams of this generation and MLB required that at least one player from each team made the Summer Classic.
That player is Bobby Abreu. Even if you disregard the Castro comparison, two All-Star appearances seem awfully low about a player who would qualify to be on this list, but that’s the case and you can’t really argue with Abreu’s career.
Let’s take a look.
2425 Games - 10087 Plate Appearances - 2470 Hits - 60.2 bWAR
.291/.375/.490 - 288 HR - 400 SB - 128 OPS+
1476 Walks - 1840 Strikeouts
Tell me if that career matches up with this page of individual accolades.
2 ASG appearances (04-05) - HR Derby Champion - Silver Slugger (04) - 1 Gold Glove (05)
A player that made two All-Star games throughout his entire baseball life won’t initially be recognized as as even close to Hall of Fame level. That’s just a fact. Regardless, it neither changes nor diminish the outstanding career that he had.
Bobby Abreu was an interesting player. What if I were to tell you that he was basically Tim Raines with more power and fewer steals. Take a look at the comparison.
Abreu: .291/.395/.475 - 400 SB - 10081 PA - 4026 Total Bases
Raines: .294/.385/.425 - 808 SB - 10359 PA - 3771 Total Bases
They both hit for similar averages and walked at virtually the same clip, but Bobby Abreu has significantly better power numbers, Raines gets the nod on the basepaths, however even if you factor in the era that each hitter played and park factors, Abreu was marginally the better hitter with a career 129 wRC+ over Raines’ 125.
One can look closely and make arguments in favor of Raines with a pretty reasonable approach, but regardless of where you stand can anyone claim that the gap is so significant that these players should be placed in different tiers?
That’s the question at hand. Whether Bobby Abreu was or not a Hall of Famer depends on where your threshold is at, but he deserves more praise than he received and certainly more than what the back of his baseball card showed.