07/04/2004 7:45 PM ET
Phils' Abreu a Final Vote candidate
Outfielder seeking first All-Star selection
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
|Bobby Abreu is thrilled to join five fellow Venezuelans in the All-Star Game. (H. Rumph, Jr./AP)
It's hard to notice Bobby Abreu, unless you're looking directly at him, and even then it might be easy to lose him in a crowd.
Size has nothing to do it. At 6 feet tall and 211 pounds, Abreu is an impressive physical specimen, whose broad shoulders and husky arms make him a presence. For Abreu, it's all about blending in, and perhaps that's why his above-average offensive campaigns have never landed him on an All-Star team.
"That's my personality. I can't change that," Abreu said. "That's how I am. That's how I'm going to be. I'm a quiet guy."
While not chosen as a reserve for the National League All-Stars -- announced Sunday evening -- his could still wind up on the team, if fans select him. In its third year, the Ameriquest 2004 All-Star Final Vote gives baseball fans the chance to select the final position player on each squad. Balloting began immediately following Sunday night's Major League All-Star Selection Show and continues until 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The winners will be announced at 9 p.m. ET exclusively on MLB.com and will then be added to the AL and NL All-Star Game rosters.
"Of course, everyone wants to be in the All-Star Game," Abreu said. "I've never been in one. If it happens, it happens. If not I just keep doing my job."
The fun doesn't end there, however. Having already decided the starters and 32nd man, fans will have another chance to make themselves heard with the return of the Ameriquest All-Star Game MVP Vote. Beginning in the sixth inning, fans can vote for the player they believe deserves to win the Ted Williams Award for being the game's Most Valuable Player. The fan vote counts for 20 percent of the decision on which player wins the award, with the media accounting for the other 80 percent.
Before he can qualify for the MVP, Abreu must first edge out stiff competition from Florida's Juan Pierre, Arizona's Steve Finley, Chicago's Aramis Ramirez and Pittsburgh's Jason Kendall in the Final Vote.
His teammates plan to help.
"He's very deserving," said first baseman Jim Thome, who was named to the team. "We have some guys who've had tremendous years and he should be recognized. Hopefully we can run a campaign and get him on that team."
"I'll vote as often as I can," said catcher Mike Lieberthal. "Whatever it takes."
2004 Final Vote
American League winner:
Hideki Matsui, Yankees
(in order of finish):
Frank Thomas, White Sox
Paul Konerko, White Sox
Lew Ford, Twins
Travis Hafner, Indians
National League winner:
Bobby Abreu, Phillies
(in order of finish):
Aramis Ramirez, Cubs
Steve Finley, D-Backs
Jason Kendall, Pirates
Juan Pierre, Marlins
Manager Larry Bowa added, "Maybe I might be a little prejudiced, but Bobby Abreu's numbers are unbelievable. Bobby and Jim [Thome] are the meat of our offense and they complement one another."
For six full seasons, Abreu has produced steadily superior numbers, though he's having one of the best first halves of his career. On Sunday, he clubbed his 17th homer, tying his career mark for most homers before the All-Star break.
Amazingly consistent, Abreu is known by many as the invisible superstar, since teammates such as Thome always get the recognition.
"Sometimes those guys go unnoticed," said Bowa. "People take it for granted he's going to hit .300. It's not easy hitting .300. It's hard to get 25 to 30 stolen bases. It's hard to get 100 walks, 100 RBIs, score 100 runs. He does it every year and people don't know about it. I know there's going to be people left off but to constantly leave him off every year isn't right. People should recognize what this guy has done."
Abreu doesn't understand, either.
"I guess a lot of people don't know me," he said. "In five years, I've been hitting .300. Driving in 100 runs, 30 homers or whatever. And nobody knows me very well. I don't know what it is. I just go out there, play hard, do my job and wait to be selected."
As a result, Abreu makes other plans for the All-Star break. Last season, for example, Abreu filmed a soft-drink commercial that was shown in his native Venezuela. He has plans to do that again this year, but wouldn't mind putting it off until the offseason.
Abreu doesn't plan to stuff the online ballot box.
"I have a computer, but I'm not going to vote for myself," he said with a laugh. "That's not me. Let's see what's going to happen. We just have to wait, and see how it turns out. It should be an interesting few days."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.