Scioscia calls Abreu MVP for Angels
Manager points to balance veteran brings to lineup
ANAHEIM -- With a quick qualifier after a long pause for reflection, Angels manager Mike Scioscia on Monday evening identified right fielder Bobby Abreu as his team's most valuable performer this season.
"I think it's Bobby Abreu," Scioscia said when asked to name an MVP among a collection of excellent candidates. "One simple reason is the balance he provided on the offensive side.
"If Torii Hunter hadn't gotten injured [missing 32 games from early July to mid-August], Torii Hunter's the MVP in the American League."
Abreu, who signed a one-year free-agent deal for $5 million on Feb. 12, has hit several career milestones this season.
On Aug. 6, he homered in Chicago to join Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, Joe Morgan and Craig Biggio as the only players in history to combine at least 250 homers, 2,000 hits, 1,000 runs scored, 1,000 RBIs and 300 steals.
Abreu reached 100 RBIs on Saturday with a two-run homer against the Athletics. It was the seventh season in a row he has hit triple-digits in RBIs, something only Albert Pujols has ongoing among other active players.
The American League Player of the Month for July, Abreu batted .380 that month with 28 RBIs in 26 games, helping his team vault into the AL West lead, where they have remained since July 11.
Abreu has had a tremendous impact on Angels hitters with his patient, disciplined approach and his ability to impart knowledge to younger teammates in a quiet yet forceful way.
"Bobby's helped everybody on this team in some way, believe me," said third baseman Chone Figgins, another of the team's MVP candidates. "He has a way of making things sound simple and helping guys but not changing them, just showing them little things that make them better.
"He's one of the best teammates I've had, right up there with Garret [Anderson] and Juan [Pierre] for helping me improve my game."
Among those Abreu has helped is Hunter, who was in the midst of a career year offensively when he had to go to the disabled list on July 10 with a strained adductor muscle in his groin area after violent collisions with walls pursuing fly balls at Dodger Stadium and in San Francisco.
"Bobby's been a tremendous influence -- and a tremendous player," Hunter said. "Playing with him every day has given me an appreciation of how great a player he is."
Hunter, an eight-time Gold Glove winner who had a streak of 265 consecutive errorless games end in Texas on Sept. 18, was batting .305 with a .380 on-base percentage and .558 slugging percentage when he went on the DL.
Coming into the four-game series against the Rangers, those numbers for Hunter were .298, .365 and .510, respectively.
Abreu is batting .292 with a .391 on-base percentage and .428 slugging percentage. He has scored 92 runs and is one stolen base away from 30, which would give him five seasons of 30-plus steals and 100-plus RBIs. Only Bonds in Major League history has done that.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.