Quietly, as befits his demeanor, Bobby Abreu has become the National League's most productive outfielder. During a torrid May in which he hit .396 and homered in nine of 10 games over one span, he carried the Phillies while first baseman Jim Thome was sidelined with a lower back strain. After Sunday's 7--6 victory over the Diamondbacks--the club's sixth straight win--Philadelphia was within one game of first place in the NL East, and Abreu was fifth in the league in batting (.333), second in home runs (14) and on-base percentage (.455), and seventh in RBIs (41).
Abreu, who has battled a reputation for lackadaisical play in the past, has never won over Philadelphia fans the way Thome and leftfielder Pat Burrell have. But he deserves recognition as an elite run producer, has earned the right to start in the All-Star Game (he was sixth among league outfielders in last week's vote count) and should be an MVP candidate if he can maintain his offensive output.
"As the years go by, you get more mature," says Abreu. "You see more pitchers, get more experienced. I'm 31 now, and I'm more comfortable, more confident. That's really what it is."