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Golden Slumbers

Over at SI, Joe Pos has a piece about Adam Dunn, “The Least Exciting Player Ever.” In it, he mentions former Yankee, Bobby Abreu:

I’m not talking about winning and losing here. I’m not talking about value. I’m talking about excitement. And that’s something different. I’ve often written that Bobby Abreu is the MBGPIBH — Most Boring Good Player In Baseball History. I have immense respect for what he has accomplished as a player, what he continues to accomplish. The guy has a lifetime .400 on-base percentage (and a .400 on-base percentage this year). He’s had two 30-30 seasons. He’s won a Gold Glove, and he really seemed to be an excellent fielder in his younger days. He has scored and driven in 100 five times. I’m assuming he has 21 more home runs in him (though his power has dwindled to almost nothing) and that will make him only the eighth member of the 300-homer, 300-stolen base club. I don’t want to get into it here because this post is already drifting, but it seems every couple of weeks I have a discussion with a friend about Abreu’s Hall of Fame case. I think he’s making a case. I also think he’s headed for the Hall of Not Famous Enough.

Abreu, though, is an agonizing player to watch, at least for me. His at-bats feel like audits. They just go on and on, an endless stream of near strikes called for balls, good pitches spoiled, swings and misses, more near pitches called for balls — he’s doing exactly what he SHOULD be doing. Abreu controls the batter’s box as few ever have. He is an artist at the plate, but an artist in the way that a good auto mechanic is an artist. I admire what he does. I appreciate the value of it. But I wish they would give me a magazine or something to read while he does it.

Excellence and excitement don’t always mix. In Abreu’s case, his lack of flair or visceral artistry will hurt his case for greatness. His artistry is there, as Pos notes, but it is not dynamic. He is a fine player, better than fine, a winning player, but he never put the asses in the seats. But I liked watching him more than Pos does. What makes him different than Hideki Matsui? That Godzilla hit more home runs?

There are thrilling players who have style to burn who aren’t nearly as accomplished as a guy like Abreu or Matsui. Sometimes, you can’t have it all. At least Bobby’s got good teeth and a nice smile.


1 Sliced Bread   ~  Jun 28, 2011 10:41 am

I wouldn't describe him as exciting, but when he was on the Yankees, I called him the Cadillac Abreu: powerful, quiet, luxurious. Definitely a hitter to be admired. Exciting is a useless trait in a ballplayer. Any team would be fortunate to have a Cadillac Abreu in their fleet.

2 The Hawk   ~  Jun 28, 2011 11:44 am

Exciting is very useful to the viewer who is looking to be entertained by their entertainment.

3 Sliced Bread   ~  Jun 28, 2011 12:03 pm

If you weren't "entertained" by Abreu's consistent production, and smooth power I'd say you weren't paying much attention to what he was doing up there. I loved his at-bats

4 Shaun P.   ~  Jun 28, 2011 12:27 pm

[3] To say nothing of his ability to turn an 0-2 count into a walk. He and Swisher are among the best I've seen in the last decade at doing that. The constant battle is something I find very entertaining.

5 thelarmis   ~  Jun 28, 2011 1:27 pm

i love boBBy. i'm pretty tired of people saying he's boring. whatever. he's an *amazing* ballplayer and Pos points out a lot of his great attributes. he's kinda contradicting himself. i thoroughly enjoyed watching abreu play and continue to follow his numbers regularly.

of course, i'm hoping he reaches that 300-300 club, my favorite! i also hope he somehow maintains the .400 OBP (he's like right on it) and reaches the .300 career average (he's in the high .290's, not that the stat is all that).

along with the two 30-30 seasons, i believe boBBy has reached the 20-20 plateau more than any other player ever; also, reached it the most times in a row. i think...not positive. would have to look it up again...

6 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 28, 2011 1:33 pm

I don't think Pos ever discounted Abreu's skills he just found watching him boring. This is subjective of course. I find Alex Rodriguez exciting, but I know other people who find him dull as dirt. It's just taste, there's no accounting for it.

7 thelarmis   ~  Jun 28, 2011 1:55 pm

[6] taste - like blueberries? yuck! ; )

8 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 28, 2011 3:15 pm

7) They'z high in antioxidants, dawg!

9 The Hawk   ~  Jun 28, 2011 11:17 pm

[3] I didn't say I wasn't entertained by Abreu. I merely stated that excitement is not useless. That being said, I could have watched Abreu with a microscope and still found pretty much everything about him to be dull. Exciting is at one end of the spectrum - Bobby is at the other.

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