Rock the Vote

After more than 21 years on this earth, I’ve finally found something worth fighting for, a cause to get behind, someone to convince people to cast their vote for. No, his name isn’t Kerry or Bush … it’s Abreu. Bobby Abreu.

You see, Bobby Abreu is an All-Star. He just is, and there’s nothing you can ever say or do to convince me otherwise. The only problem is that, unless Abreu wins the “Final Vote” contest on for the 32nd and final spot on the National League All-Star team, he will have played nine seasons in the major leagues without being chosen to a single All-Star team.

I know what you’re saying … How can someone be an All-Star without being on an All-Star team? If you don’t know the answer to that question, you’ve obviously never looked at Abreu’s career.

Let’s start with this year, since there’s still something that can be done to make him an All-Star in 2004. Through his first 78 games (when the All-Star teams were announced), Abreu hit .304/.444/.576 with 17 homers, 22 doubles, 69 walks, 17 stolen bases, 56 RBIs and 66 runs scored.

Projected over a full season, his numbers are incredible …

  G      AVG      OBP      SLG     2B     HR     RUN     RBI      BB     SB
158     .304     .444     .576     45     35     135     115     140     35

In a league without Barry Bonds in it, those are MVP numbers. In fact, if Abreu keeps up those paces, he will have filled a stat-sheet like no one in baseball history. No hitter has ever had the combination of 40+ doubles, 30+ homers, 120+ runs, 100+ RBIs, 120+ walks and 30+ stolen bases — all of which Abreu is well on pace for right now. The only two players to come close are Bonds and Babe Ruth (twice), but neither of them could get to 30 steals. Incidentally, not only is Abreu on pace for more than 30 steals, he is swiping bases at a 94.4% clip so far (17-for-18).

Here are Abreu’s current rankings among NL hitters …

– 2nd in Runs
– 3rd in Walks
– 4th in On-Base Percentage
– 4th in Stolen Bases
– 7th in OPS
– 8th in RBIs
– 9th in Slugging Percentage

If traditional stats don’t float your boat, consider that Abreu is 3rd in the NL in Runs Created (RC), behind only Bonds and Todd Helton, 2nd in the NL in Runs Created Above Average (RCAA), behind only Bonds, and 4th in the NL in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), behind only Bonds, Helton and Scott Rolen.

Here’s how Abreu looks in VORP, RC and RCAA, compared to the NL reserve outfielders who have already made the All-Star team …

                    VORP     RC     RCAA
Bobby Abreu         44.3     75       39
Lance Berkman       37.5     69       37
Miguel Cabrera      31.7     58       12
Moises Alou         21.3     54       11

I can see an argument for choosing Lance Berkman over Abreu and, while I think Abreu is more deserving than Miguel Cabrera, I do think Cabrera deserves a spot on the team.

However, the choice of Moises Alou over Abreu is absolutely ridiculous. Abreu has been a superior player in nearly every imaginable way during the first-half of the season …

                         ABREU          ALOU          ADVANTAGE
VORP                      44.3          21.3          Abreu
Runs Created                75            54          Abreu
RC/27 Outs                10.2           6.3          Abreu
RCAA                        39            11          Abreu
Batting Average           .304          .286          Abreu
On-Base Percentage        .444          .338          Abreu
Slugging Percentage       .576          .527          Abreu
OPS                      1.021          .866          Abreu
Runs Scored                 66            50          Abreu
Runs Batted In              56            49          Abreu
Doubles                     22            16          Abreu
Extra-Base Hits             40            36          Abreu
Isolated Power            .272          .241          Abreu
Stolen Bases                17             2          Abreu

A lot of those numbers aren’t even close. Basically, the only thing Alou leads Abreu in is home runs, where Alou holds a 19 to 17 lead. In hitting those two more homers, Alou has also made significantly more outs, which is why Abreu is creating around 62% more runs per out this season. Throw in the fact that Abreu is a superior defender and has been significantly better than Alou during the past couple years, and I see absolutely no case for Alou being chosen over Abreu.

Getting the All-Star game shaft in favor of less-deserving players is, sadly, nothing new for Bobby Abreu. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at how Abreu’s numbers stacked with the NL’s reserve outfielders in each of the past five seasons …

                    VORP        RC     RCAA
Bobby Abreu         53.2       116       38
Jim Edmonds         60.7       105       42
Luis Gonzalez       53.2       122       31
Preston Wilson      46.8       102        3
Andruw Jones        46.3        98       13
Geoff Jenkins       42.6        97       27
Rondell White       27.7        77       11

Rondell White making it over Abreu, despite being about half the player Abreu is, was because of the silly one-player-per-team rule. You might think that’s why Geoff Jenkins beat out Abreu too, but that’s not actually the case. Richie Sexson was a Milwaukee representative too, and Jenkins made the team by winning the “Final Vote” contest.

Preston Wilson made the team because of his Coors-inflated numbers, which, as you’ll see in a minute, is a frequent occurrence when it comes to Abreu getting screwed out of being an All-Star. Wilson came into the season, his first with the Rockies, as a .262/.333/.472 career hitter and proceeded to hit an almost-identical .260/.316/.479 away from Planet Coors. Colorado also had two other All-Stars.

The Incompleat Starting Pitcher
The end of the nine-inning start and how we got here.

I’ll give Andruw Jones a pass because, while his offense wasn’t close to Abreu’s, he’s a centerfielder and a damn good one. So, in 2003, Abreu was only better than three of the six NL reserve outfielders.

                    VORP        RC     RCAA
Bobby Abreu         70.4       129       57
Lance Berkman       76.9       138       55
Shawn Green         65.5       118       42
Andruw Jones        54.2       106       25
Luis Gonzalez       46.7       109       30
Adam Dunn           36.1       105       20

Luis Gonzalez‘s spot on the team was a Bob Brenly special, as the Diamondbacks had a total of six All-Stars, none chosen by the fan vote. Adam Dunn was Cincinnati’s lone All-Star and I’m again willing to give Jones the benefit of the doubt because of his defense. However, Abreu was a better offensive player than Shawn Green, and Green played the same position (right field).

In 2002, Abreu was better than three of the five NL reserve outfielders.

                    VORP        RC     RCAA
Bobby Abreu         64.9       130       43
Lance Berkman       87.3       156       72
Larry Walker        82.0       153       70
Brian Giles         81.3       139       57
Cliff Floyd         72.0       127       53
Vladimir Guerrero   61.3       118       22
Moises Alou         56.1       109       33

Well, whaddya know, this season isn’t the first time Moises Alou stole an All-Star spot from Abreu. As you’ll see, 2001 is somewhat unique, in that Abreu was only significantly better than one of the six NL reserve outfielders.

                    VORP        RC     RCAA
Bobby Abreu         72.5       138       49
Vladimir Guerrero   92.2       147       64
Brian Giles         88.3       149       66
Gary Sheffield      85.8       142       73
Jim Edmonds         75.9       134       54
Andruw Jones        70.5       131       31
Steve Finley        52.3       107       20
Jeffrey Hammonds    33.2        93        3

Once again, you see that a Colorado hitter with Coors-inflated numbers took a spot from Abreu. Like Preston Wilson in 2003, Jeffrey Hammonds came into the 2000 season with thoroughly mediocre career numbers of .268/.329/.454. And, like Wilson, Hammonds hit like he always had on the road (.275/.325/.415) and padded his stats in Coors Field. Hammonds, like Wilson before him, was handed an All-Star appearance over Abreu solely because of playing in Colorado.

Steve Finley wasn’t nearly the offensive player Abreu was in 2000 and the Diamondbacks already had a rep in Randy Johnson, so despite Finley’s good defense in center field, I’m going to say Abreu deserved the spot more than he did. That makes Abreu better than two of the seven NL reserve outfielders in 2000.

                    VORP        RC     RCAA
Bobby Abreu         75.8       140       58
Luis Gonzalez       73.7       135       48
Vladimir Guerrero   67.1       131       35
Gary Sheffield      62.5       123       41
Jeromy Burnitz      47.2       109       36
Brian Jordan        25.8        93        8

Here’s the year that really bugs me. Abreu hit .335/.446/.549 with 66 extra-base hits, 27 stolen bases, 109 walks, 93 RBIs and 118 runs scored in 1999. He led the NL in triples, finished 3rd in batting average and on-base percentage, 5th in runs scored and walks, and 7th in OPS. His VORP of 75.8 was not only good for 6th in the entire league, it was also better than all five of the NL reserve outfielders, all of whom also played a corner outfield spot. He also had better RC and RCAA totals than all five.

By my count, from 1999-2003, Bobby Abreu, despite not making a single All-Star team, was better than 14 of the 29 (48.3%) actual NL All-Star reserve outfielders. Some seasons, like 2001, he didn’t have a huge case to be on the team (although he still definitely had a case), while other seasons, like 1999, he was better than every backup outfielder that made the team. Toss in this year, and Abreu was or is better than 53.1% of the NL reserve outfielders since 1999. And that is conservative; the case could probably be made that the number is closer to 60%.

Meanwhile, while not making any All-Star teams from 1999-2003, take a look at where Abreu ranked among all National League outfielders in RC and RCAA during that time …

                             RC                                     RCAA
Barry Bonds                 844          Barry Bonds                 573   
Sammy Sosa                  715          Sammy Sosa                  304   
Brian Giles                 685          Brian Giles                 301   
Luis Gonzalez               679          Gary Sheffield              284   
BOBBY ABREU                 653          BOBBY ABREU                 245   
Gary Sheffield              646          Luis Gonzalez               237   
Vladimir Guerrero           636          Vladimir Guerrero           210   
Larry Walker                577          Larry Walker                201   
Andruw Jones                530          Jim Edmonds                 197   
Lance Berkman               505          Lance Berkman               185

Pretty impressive, huh?

As for whether or not he deserves your vote for the final spot on the NL team this season, hopefully I presented enough information to make you a believer already. If not, it’s worth noting that he is having a far superior first-half than the other four candidates for the “Final Vote” contest. Here are the specific numbers …

                    VORP     RC     RCAA
Bobby Abreu         44.3     75       39
Aramis Ramirez      33.5     58       17
Steve Finley        28.5     59       10
Jason Kendall       16.6     43        6
Juan Pierre         13.3     46       -4

Forget John Kerry. Forget George Bush. If you’re only going to vote once in 2004, make it a vote for Bobby Abreu.

2004 All-Star Final Vote

Voting ends Wednesday, at 8 p.m. Eastern, so vote early and vote often.

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