Bobby Abreu: a statistical anomaly

Bobby Abreu is a little too old and too well known to qualify for our One2Watch4 series (Erick Aybar was the Angels representative), but he’s definitely someone to keep an eye on this season.

I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by Abreu for his ability to succeed in the modern era with a skill set that’s straight out of the early-20th century. Abreu has never quite looked the part of a major leaguer in the steroids era. Yet he remains one of the most consistent players in the game.

Its not just his physical attributes, however, that make Abreu look like he belongs in the 1940s. His stats don’t fit into this era either.

From Another Era

Most consecutive seasons with 100+ RBI, Fewer than 25 HR

Abreu is one of just six players to drive in over 100 RBI in each of the past five seasons. And he’s done it without hitting more than 24 home runs in any of the five seasons. Only 10 other players in MLB history have had five straight seasons with 100 RBI and fewer than 25 home runs and none since Charlie Gehringer from 1932-37. Should Abreu extend the streak this season, he’ll trail only Hugh Duffy (1893-00) and Harry Heilmann (1923-30) for the longest such streak in baseball history.

Now the fact that Abreu has driven in 100 RBI is certainly due, in large part, to the fact that he’s played for the Yankees and Angels. Its safe to say he’d fall well short of these numbers had he played in Kansas City or Pittsburgh. But his RBI totals do speak to his ability to come up big in clutch situations.

Take last season as an example: Abreu had 201 plate appearances with runners in scoring position (a number which is very conducive to driving in 100 runs). But Abreu didn’t just luck into those 100 RBI. He hit .354 with RISP – the highest BA with RISP for the Angels (min. 150 PA) since Brian Downing in 1979 (.367).

While Abreu’s power numbers are quickly declining, he’ll remain a valuable asset in the middle of the Angels lineup as long as he can continue to produce when it matters most.