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.
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.