Slotting in as the 83rd Angel on our list, Bobby Abreu is no stranger to being criminally underrated. Abreu, a five-tool lefty, was notorious for working counts and getting on-base, reaching the vaunted .400 OBP threshold a whopping 8 times in his career. His lowest OBP (min. 200 PA) was .329 in his rookie season with the Astros. The longtime Phillie bounced around early in his career. Traded by Tampa Bay and Houston, Abreu landed in Philadelphia where he perennially put up 7 straight 5+ WAR seasons, and his durability — having played 13 150+ game seasons — was nothing short of remarkable.
After a 2.5 season stay in pinstripes, Abreu signed with the Angels for 1 year, $5 million in 2009 (settling from his desire of a 3-year deal or 2 years plus vesting option) and made himself a warm welcome by recording 3.2 bWAR in his age-35 season, playing 142 games, and slashing .293/.390/.435 in their historic 97-win season. The entire lineup had above a .300 batting average at one point, and Abreu was no exception.
Abreu and the Angels re-upped for 2-years, $19 million guaranteed with a vesting option of $9M, and Abreu delivered strong value on that with a .254/.353/.402 in right field. Slotting behind Chone Figgins at the top of the lineup, Abreu was able to get on base for Torii Hunter, Vlad, and Kendrys Morales, resulting one of the strongest lineups the team ever had.
It wasn’t all clear skies, though. Abreu was a defensive liability with -55 DRS across his Yankees and Angels tenures. As such, he primarily DH’d in 2011, and competition for ABs became fierce. The normally quiet-lipped Abreu didn’t make clubhouse noise until spring 2012, when the right fielder said this to ESPN Deportes’ Enrique Rojas regarding his playing time:
“I will not be on the bench knowing that I can play. If the Angels don’t have a position for me, then the best thing is to trade me. It would be the correct (thing) to do. I won’t be able to do nothing sitting in the bench. I want to play, and I believe I can help this team. But if there is no spot for me, then I would prefer to play somewhere different,”
Abreu was told he would get 400 plate appearances and didn’t buy it:
“I’ve learned not to have much confidence in these people, but I hope they live up to what they told me,” Abreu said. “How long am I going to have to continue proving to people what I am and what I’m able to do?”
The Angels had a set outfield of Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos, and Torii Hunter entering 2012, and Pujols at first base meant Kendrys Morales would be the designated hitter. Abreu’s concerns were not unfounded.
In late April, the Angels cut one potential Hall-of-Famer to call up another: Mike Trout was called up, seized the opportunity, and never looked back.
Ultimately, Abreu’s two-pronged patience-contact approach to hitting did wonders for the Angels lineup, and for the time that they had him, Abreu was a welcome sight in Halos red. Let’s see if he can get into Cooperstown now.