#6 Most Underrated Athlete in Philadelphia Sports History: Bobby Abreu

Abreu is a really interesting case study in Philadelphia. He was quite similar to Donovan McNabb: grossly underrated in Philly, slightly overrated nationally. Abreu’s biggest sin was his laissez faire attitude in a city that simply doesn’t accept that. It’s fine for fans to be upset about the attitude, but to ignore his skill and contributions to the Phillies while he was here is to be so blinded by irrationality that you simply miss the big picture.

Bobby Abreu is on the fence for the Hall of Fame. That’s not because he’s overrated, it’s because he’s an elite player. His numbers with the Phillies are simply staggering, and he is undoubtedly one of the greatest players to ever wear a Phillies uniform (Phillies Nation has him ranked 10th all time).

  • Bobby Abreu has the 4th most doubles in Phillies history (348), behind Mike Schmidt, Jimmy Rollins, and Big Ed Delahanty. Pretty heady company.
  • Abreu has the 9th most homers in Phillies history (195) with 7 more than number 10 on the list, Chase Utley.
  • He has the 9th most RBIs in Phillies history (814).
  • He has the 9th most runs scored in Phillies history (891).
  • Of the 3 guys with a higher OBP than Abreu in Phillies history (Abreu’s is .416), none has played since 1911. The highest OBP on the Phillies last year was .355, by Victorino. And keep in mind, .416 wasn’t Abreu’s high. That was his career average on the Phils.
  • Since the end of WWII, only two players have had a higher career batting averages while with the Phils, John Kruk and Richie Asburn. Abreu’s average was .303.
  • He’s 7th all time in steals in Phillies history with 254.
  • Abreu has the 12th most hits in Phillies history (1474).

So, who else in Phillies history is in the career top 10 of homers, RBIs, runs scored, doubles, OBP, and steals? Nobody. In fact, nobody is even close. So if you want to get mad because he didn’t charge facefirst into walls, go right ahead. But don’t ignore the fact that he is one of the 5 greatest offensive players in Phillies history. Babe Ruth was a mediocre defensive right fielder who didn’t crash into walls either. That didn’t mean that his offensive numbers should be completely discounted. Should we be mad at Mike Schmidt because he didn’t steal more bases? No, I’m not comparing Abreu to Babe Ruth or Mike Schmidt. My point is that it’s unfair to judge a player because of one weakness and completely ignore everything he contributed positively to the team.

There is also a notion that he “isn’t clutch”. But the numbers simply don’t back that up. According to baseball reference, in games that are late and close, he hits .282 with a .411 OBP  (I cannot find exclusive Phils stats on this split, only full career stats). Compare that with “Captain Clutch” Derek Jeter, who with a very similar number of at-bats hits .292 with a .384 OBP .  The slight edge goes to Jeter, but it’s hardly a blowout, and he’s considered to be the most “clutch” player in the game.

Abreu was one of the greatest players in Phillies history, and yet bring up his name in this town and you’ll get a rolling of the eyes and muttering about hustle because he didn’t sacrifice his body on every play. There was no doubt that Abreu hustled on the basepaths, and no doubt that he excelled in every phase of the game that didn’t have to do with crashing into walls. But this being Philly, that’s all that matters. I appreciate hustle as much as the next guy, but at a certain point talent needs to be appreciated too. Because his talents at the plate and on the basepaths are completely ignored due to his mediocre defense, Bobby Abreu is #6 on this list.


2 Comments on “#6 Most Underrated Athlete in Philadelphia Sports History: Bobby Abreu”

  1. eric says:

    thank you! i couldnt have said it better myself. only thing you left out is his plate discipline which is second to none. the amount of pitches he sees per ab is priceless and something that wont show in the stats. with so many players in the lineups hes been in hacking at the first pitch helping the opposing pitcher cruise by 7 inning only tossing 60 pitches. having a guy like that in the lineup is a pretty nice thing. also, working a walk and not swinging and bad pitches used to be a pretty good thing…unless your talking about abreu to philly fan that really doesnt know much about the game

  2. Stouffer32 says:

    I really don’t think he is underrated. I think he is remembered right where he should be, as a talented guy who was little else to this team. I don’t think it is an accident that the teams he went to after Philly started losing when he got there, or that the Phillies started winning when he left. The thing I disliked the most about him is, during his rare off days, he was an awful replacement/PH. His wrists weren’t taped like they normally were and one time he couldn’t find his glove.


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