The Top 79 Cub Killers of My Time #17: “Sam-ME and” Bobby Abreu


The chickens are in the hen house!

When Bobby Abreu first became an MLB superstar, everyone said, “Hey, this guy hits like Sammy Sosa, except he draws walks and doesn’t seem like as big an asshole! And, hey, he sort of looks exactly like a rounder Sammy Sosa! I wonder if he does steroids, too!” Perhaps, everyone. Perhaps. At least if you were a Cubs fans, it certainly APPEARED that Abreu did steroids. He was a tormentor of Cub pitching, and he slugged his way to #17 on the Top 79 Cub Killers of My Time.

Bobby Abreu’s Major League Baseball career began on April 21, 1990, when he was signed by the Houston Astros out of Venezuela. Abreu was (apparently) only 17 years old when he played his first year of rookie ball. He batted .301/.358/.372 in 56 games with the Astros in the Gulf Coast League.

The somewhat speedy Abreu knocked his way around the minor leagues until 1996, when he was a September call-up for the Astros. He made his MLB debut on September 1, 1996, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. From the box score, it looks like Abreu was used as bait to draw out one of the Pirates’ pitchers since, although he pinch-hit for Houston pitcher Chris Holt, he didn’t actually get an at-bat. At least, I assume that’s what happened. I wasn’t there, people. CUT ME SOME SLACK.

The day after his thrilling Major League debut, Abreu actually got an at-bat against the St. Louis Cardinals. In the 6th inning, with his Astros leading, Abreu pinch-hit for Darryl Kile (RIP). Abreu flied out to left field, and the Astros went on to lose 8-7.

Abreu was the Astros’ starting right fielder on Opening Day in 1997, and his debut against the Cubs came later that year. On July 14, 1997, just moments after the Cubs had won their first game of the season, the Astros came to Wrigley Field. In the 7th inning, with the Astros trailing 6-3, Abreu pinch hit for Jose Lima (RIP). Abreu lined the third pitch he saw from Frank Castillo into left field for his first of many hits against the Cubs.

After the 1997 season, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays drafted Abreu with their sixth overall pick in the expansion draft. The Devil Rays then made the brilliant decision to flip Abreu to the Philadelphia Phillies for Kevin Stocker. Stocker was out of the league three seasons later. Abreu is still going sort-of strong after sixteen seasons in the league.

The majority of Abreu’s Cub-killery came during his nine years in Philadelphia, where he amassed 195 of his 284 career home runs and 814 of his 1,325 RBIs. Abreu was also durable as hell. He averaged nearly 157 games per season in his eight full seasons with the Phillies. At the trade deadline in 2006, the Phillies sent Abreu and Cory Lidle out of the National League. The Phillies swapped him to the New York Yankees for C.J. Henry, Jesus Sanchez, Carlos Monasterios, and Matt Smith.

Abreu spent two and a half years in New York before he was granted free agency at the end of the 2008 season. Abreu signed with the Los Angeles Angels, and he’s been on the West Coast ever since. LOST TO THE PACIFIC OCEAN.

Throughout the course of his career, Abreu’s statistics against the Cubs dwarf those he’s compiled against any other team. His .338 average is second only to his .340 against the Twins. He has a higher on-base percentage (.447) against the Cubs than he does against any other team. His .667 slugging percentage is nearly 100 points higher than it is against any other team, and his 1.114 OPS is tops. He has 16 home runs and 57 RBIs against the Cubs. That doesn’t sound all that impressive until you realize it came in only 60 games. That projects out to 43 home runs and 154 RBIs against the Cubs in a full 162-game schedule. Abreu has compiled nearly as many walks (45) as strike outs (48) against the Cubs. His 144 total bases against the Cubs are the most he has against any non-divisional opponent (at least for any significant period of time). He is an infuriating opponent.

Oh, hey, how about his performance at Wrigley Field? Well, I’m glad you asked. Abreu has hit more home runs at Wrigley (12) than any ballpark which he hasn’t called home. At visiting ballparks, his 38 RBIs in Wrigley are second only to Olympic Stadium and Shea Stadium. And his 1.182 OPS at Wrigley is his best at ANY stadium, home or away.

So, yeah, maybe Sammy Sosa, Jr. should have played a few years at the home of Sammy Sosa, Sr. Might have helped his career a little bit.

Why You Should Hate Him: July 24, 2003. Vincente Padilla took the mound at Wrigley Field against Kerry Wood. Abreu started in right field and batted fourth for Larry Bowa’s Phillies. And, hey, Marlon Byrd started in center field! Neat! Anyhow, the Cubs, in their battle for an NL Central title, took a 3-1 lead into the sixth inning. And then all hell broke loose, thanks to Abreu. In the top of the sixth inning, Wood loaded up the bases with two singles and a walk. Abreu launched a 1-2 pitch into the seats to clear the bases and give the Phillies a 5-3 lead. But the 6th inning was really just beginning! Three batters later, Todd Pratt hit an RBI single to make it 6-3 Phillies. Kyle Farnsworth came on in relief and allowed three out of the next four batters he faced (including Padilla) to reach base before being pulled for Mike Remlinger. Abreu came up with the bases loaded AGAIN and hit a sacrifice line drive to score Byrd and give the Phillies a 10-3 lead that they would not relinquish. In all, the Phillies sent FOURTEEN batters to the plate and scored nine runs on six hits in the inning. Abreu would finish the day 1-3 with a walk and five RBIs. And Kerry Wood’s arm would be FOREVER SAD.

Did You Know? His nickname is “El Comedulce,” which is Spanish for “the candy-eater.” Which is why, I guess, he’s sort of the fat Sammy Sosa.