In our younger and more vulnerable days, we were not too kind to Bobby Abreu. Now, despite our early trangressions, we did apologize to Mr. Abreu in June. Let’s take a look at where things ended up with the presumptive 2008 right fielder this year.
During today’s game, as he hustled down the line early on, Bobby Abreu beat out a potential double play ball to secure his 100th RBI of the season. Abreu would later walk to drive in run number 101 on the season, thus completing a remarkable turnaround. Abreu ended the season with a whopping 123 runs scored, 40 doubles, 16 HR, 101 RBI and a batting line of .283/.369/.445. While those rate stats aren’t in line with his career numbers, those are some impressive counting stats.
Now, let’s jump back in time a bit to see how Abreu got there. The journey makes his final number seem all the better. At the end of May in Toronto, Joe Torre opted to bench Bobby Abreu. The former All Star was hitting .228/.313/.289 and needed to refocus. Whatever happened that day sure did work. Over the next 106 games (not yet counting Sunday’s), Abreu hit at a pace even with his career line. He turned in a .312/.397/.525 line with 34 doubles, 14 home runs and 77 RBIs.
That’s some turn around. Not coincidentally, Abreu’s turnaround came with the Yankees’ turnaround. It’s really that simple. When Abreu hits, pitchers have to face Jeter-Abreu-Rodriguez in the heart of a fearsome order. There’s no letting up, and Abreu, in effect, put up MVP numbers for the reason of the season. Furthermore, had Abreu avoided his early season slump, I bet the Yanks would have won the division.
To bolster that claim, let’s see what Abreu’s final line would have looked yet if we take those stellar 106 games and extend them over 162. He would have hit .312/.397/.525, significantly higher than his final 2007 numbers. He could have ended the year with 21 HR, 117 RBI (!) and 52 doubles. His numbers through 106 games also would have put him on pace to score 137 runs. If that’s not an MVP candidate, I don’t know what is.
With those extra runs and extra hitting, the Yanks would have been able to win two games — any two games really — during their 21-29 stretch. We can blame the Devil Rays all we want, but the truth is that the Yankees did themselves in with a slow start, injuries and poor pitching.
Now, let’s jump ahead to this week. On Thursday, the numbers are all reset to 0 — or is that .000/.000/.000? When Johnny Damon digs in against C.C. Sabathia on Thursday, we’ll have to hope that Bobby Abreu can help lead the Yanks to 11 more victories this year. In May, I wouldn’t have believed it, but after the last 107 games, I think he can.