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Player Profile #189: Asdrubal Cabrera | SS | CLE

Asdrubal Cabrera isn’t trending in the right direction. After slugging 25 HR in 2011, the breakout shortstop fell to 16 the following year. That wasn’t overly surprising, though. In fact, it’s exactly what most expected from a player who had hit just 18 HR across his first 1,592 PA spanning the 2007-2010 seasons.

So when Cabrera hit 14 HR last year with an 8.7% HR/FB rate, no one really had much right to complain. Maybe you hoped he’d hit closer to 20, but at the end of the day a 14-HR season is right in the range we should expect from Cabrera.

What was worrisome was his increased strikeout rate and drastic decline in batting average as Cabrera fell out of the .270s, where he’d comfortably sat for three straight years, down to .242. While a more Cabrera-like second half assuaged my concerns about his strikeout rate going forward, another year of decline had me questioning whether Cabrera is worth targeting in fantasy drafts. Would his batting average rebound?

A look at his batting average by batted ball type gives us a pretty resounding yes.

Year LD GB Non-HR FB
2012 .698 .210 .133
2013 .593 .215 .168

Cabrera batted just .593 on line drives last year!

Last year Cabrera batted just .593 on line drives, 97 points lower than the league average of .690, 105 points lower than his .698 mark in 2012, and 140 points lower than his career .733 average! That’s just plain ol’ bad luck. Combined with his second half strikeout rates returning to normal, I think it’s safe to expect Cabrera to rebound to his 2012 levels.

At A Glance

  • Strengths: None
  • Neutral: R, HR, RBI, SB, BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, K, 2B
  • Weaknesses: BB, 3B

Players With Similar Fantasy Value

2014 Asdrubal Cabrera Fantasy Projection

2014 Projection: 596 PA, 62 R, 16 HR, 70 RBI, 9 SB, .273 BA

Overall Rank: 189 | SS Rank: 17

I mean, sure, Cabrera contributes a little bit everywhere, but he’s almost the definition of replacement level.

Despite projecting a pretty solid rebound season from Cabrera, he’s just our 18th-ranked SS due to the influx of young talent at the position. Think about this for a second — since Cabrera’s 25-HR season in 2011, we’ve seen the following players add themselves to the SS pool: Jean Segura, Everth Cabrera, Xander Bogaerts, Jurickson Profar, Andrelton Simmons, and Ben Zobrist (didn’t have SS eligibility in 2010 or 2011). That’s six players who didn’t have SS eligibility, weren’t in the majors, or weren’t impactful just two years ago. That’s half a league right there. And who’s left the SS pool? Derek Jeter and maybe Jimmy Rollins. There’s been a pretty big net gain at the position.

Cabrera’s real value probably comes in very deep leagues or those that have a MI position to fill. He’s a pretty high-floor player, but his ceiling isn’t that great, and he really doesn’t contribute anywhere. I mean, sure, Cabrera contributes a little bit everywhere, but he’s almost the definition of replacement level.

Still, the drop-off from a player like Cabrera at the back end of the top 20 to someone like Josh Rutledge or Alcides Escobar just outside the top 20 is pretty significant, so when planning your fantasy draft strategy this year, you should use Cabrera as the cutoff point separating the groups of stable everyday fantasy starters and platoon caliber options with major deficiencies.


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  • Swaggerjackers

    @Bryan: In a 10 team auction keeper league with OBP instead of AVG and QS instead of W, pick 5 keepers for the upcoming season:

    Tulo $24
    Cano $21
    Scherzer $16
    Bautista $10
    Gomez $11
    Minor $6
    Segura $4
    Myers $4
    Jose Fernandez $4
    Billy Hamilton $4


    • Bryan Curley

      Myers ($4), Gomez ($11), Fernandez ($4) are impossible to not keep. Scherzer ($16) is probably a great value too, though I don’t know how often your other leaguemates keep SP. Then it comes down to another batter. Though I like Segura’s 40-SB, 90-R, 10-HR season from a SS, I’d probably look to secure a more elite hitter (unless you think your leaguemates will let a lot of great hitters go to auction, then Segura might be a good option). I don’t care much for Bautista at that level given some injury concerns and the fact that you saved a lot of money on an OF already (Myers). It comes down to Tulo and Cano. Despite the ballpark, I’ll take Cano because of reliability and he’s a very, very high OBP option.

      • Swaggerjackers

        I agree on Gomez, Fernandez, and Cano.

        Here’s where it gets tricky:

        Bautista’s a monster in OBP formats and having him on my squad allows some flexibility in the draft for an OBP dud with power like Pedro Alvarez or Trumbo. For that reason I’m tempted to take him and try to get Myers back in the draft. In a league with a $260 team budget with moderate inflation, how much do you think Myers would go for? Feel free to throw out a couple similarly hyped players from last season and I’ll check the old draft recap and let you know how much my leaguemates paid. Rizzo went for $10. Freeman $9. Jennings $17.

        Regarding Scherzer – he was a keeper for me until I traded for Jose Fernandez a couple weeks ago. Now it feels less critical and I’d rather snag some speed at our league minimum ($4) from either Segura or Hamilton. I’m leaning toward Segura even though his second half was underwhelming.

        • Bryan Curley

          You can definitely make an argument for keeping 4 batters and letting Scherzer go back. At $4 Segura is a great value even if he disappoints. I’m not super high on him, but like I said before a 40-SB, 10-HR, 90-R season from a $4 SS is pretty awesome.

          Myers is tough to peg because his value is tied to how much your league things he’ll break out. I wouldn’t necessarily call Bautista an OBP monster because he’ll probably be around .355-.365, due in large part to how low he bats. Myers walks a lot, too, and should have an OBP around .340 (he probably will hit for a noticeably higher average). If I had to guess, I’d say Myers probably goes for $13-$17.

          The one caveat is I was also assuming you can keep these players after this season for the same price, or maybe with a little inflation (i.e., a $4 player can be kept for $6 or something like that). That would make Myers really exciting for 2016. If that’s not correct, then I might go Bautista for the better overall season despite the injury risk.

          • Swaggerjackers

            Thanks for the insight.

            ESPN projected Bautista’s OBP at .390 going into the 2013 season. He ended up at .360 but prior to that he was right up there with Votto and Choo for a couple seasons. Maybe the injuries and aging curve have caught up with him. Still, I’m a big fan of locking up power at a discount since that’s what cost the most in my draft normally.

            My league adds $3 to every player each season so I picked up Myers last season at $1, he’d be $4 this season, then $7 in 2015 if I kept him again. He’s a great keeper IF he pans out and continues to develop. I could be swayed into keeping him over Segura.

          • Bryan Curley

            Yeah I don’t see Bautista as more than a .360-.365 OBP guy only because he’s a .260 hitter (he had a .302 BA that one year) and he doesn’t walk more than 14-15% of the time (20% his best year). Nothing wrong with .360-.365, but he’s definitely not more than that without some BABIP luck. Solid keepers overall though!

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