Asdrubal Cabrera A Top 10 SS? Not In My Book

When I posted my updated shortstop rankings last week after the news on Jose Reyes (click here to view) there was a lot of talk about Asdrubal Cabrera and his omission.  Honestly, I just don’t see what all the hype is about.  Where is the potential upside?  What is driving all this excitement?

Before we answer those questions, let’s look at his stats from 2009:

523 At Bats

.308 Batting Average (161 Hits)
6 Home Runs
68 RBI
81 Runs
17 Stolen Bases
.361 On Base Percentage
.438 Slugging Percentage
.360 Batting Average on Balls in Play

First let’s talk about the average, which clearly was buoyed by an above average BABIP.  In fact, that number had him tied for eleventh in the league.  Sooner or later the luck is going to change, which will clearly have an impact.

Granted, he doesn’t strikeout an excessive amount, but he certainly isn’t a contact machine either.  Last season he struck out 17.0% of the time, placing right about in the middle of the league.  Over his Minor League career his rate was at 18%, so to think that he’s going to make a huge stride there is just not a fair assumption.  In fact, given his track record, I would expect him to regress slightly making an average similar to his ’09 mark nearly impossible.

You put that strikeout rate together with significantly worse luck and you get a decent average, but far from an elite one.

His power is nonexistent, more or less.  He hit just 26 home runs over 1,632 Minor League at bats.  His career high is 11, coming in 565 AB between Double-A, Triple-A and the Majors in 2007.

Last season he put just 30.0% of balls in the air.  In the Minor Leagues he was at just 34.5%.  Does that sound like numbers that will generate significantly more home runs?  Yes, he could improve on his 4.7% HR/FB, but there’s just no true upside here.  What do you think, there’s a maximum of 10-12 home runs?  Even that could be a stretch, in my mind, meaning he’s just not a source of power.

How about the speed?  Last season he stole 17 bases.  Over his Minor League career he picked up 52.  Is it just me or is he just an average source of stolen bases, at best?

He’s just not someone that is going to provide elite stolen bases total.  He’s not likely to go out there and steal 30 bases or more, no matter where he’s batting in the lineup.

I know he may be hitting leadoff this season, but look at what he did in that spot in 133 AB in ’09:

  • .301, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 19 R, 4 SB

You take the 133 AB and extrapolate it to 550, you get about 17 SB.

Granted, hitting leadoff will allow him to score more runs, but I’m not for the assumption that he’s going to stay there all season long.  Even if he does and you want to say he’s going to end up with 100 runs, is that really enough?

Before we answer that, let’s look at my 2010 projection for him:

.270 (135-500), 5 HR, 50 RBI, 80 R, 15 SB, .325 BABIP, .338 OBP, .380 SLG

I may be lower on him then some, but I really just don’t see where the potential upside with him is.  You have a middle infielder who has limited power and not much speed.  Seriously, what is all the excitement about?  Because he may hit leadoff and score some runs?

That’s just not enough for me.  When I’m selecting a middle infielder I want him to bring something to the table, be it speed or power.  Without either of those, the player becomes a last resort for me, and that’s what Cabrera is.

What do you think?  Am I overly critical of him?  How well do you think he can produce and why?

If you would like to see a free preview of the Rotoprofessor 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide (available for just $5) now including a Top 50 Prospects for 2010 List, click here.

For some 2010 projections, click here.  Among those we’ve already covered include:

4 comments

  1. BLAZE says:

    I believe his average should be closer to .290 then 270. Im am in agreement about the high BABIP and his regression in the avg dept. However, you forgot to mention this kid does hit alot of linedrives (22%)and he does have some speed that should help beat out some grounders. Which those ultimately should keep the BABIP high, thus the avg should probably be no lower then 290 IMO.

    His contact rate isnt all that bad either (85% twice). So throw in .290 avg; 2b/SS elg; chance to steal 15-20 bags and score 100 runs. I do think he’s a top 10 SS.

    Andrus might have more SB’s but i see nothing else being better then AC. Andrus isnt hitting 290. If he’s batting 9th, i’ll have a hardtime seeing 90-100 runs.

    A.Ramirez offers more power, but Ramirez won’t have the runs AC will. SB’s could be close and you have Alexei #6 on your SS rankings.

    E. Cabrera SURELY won’t have the year AC will. EC will be lucky to hit .250 IMO.

    Peralta doesnt even count for SS to me.

    I see no reason why Asdrubal Cabrera can’t take one of the spots on your top 10 SS rankings.

  2. Hippeaux says:

    I think you’re a little pessimistic about his “upside,” considering he just turned 24. There’s still a strong chance we haven’t seen the limits of his skill set. However, I certainly wouldn’t count on anything more than .285-85-8-60-18. If you draft him expecting 30+ SB you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Those numbers, however, especially in AL-only play, are not easy to find from your shortstop. Cabrera gets an added boost in mixed leagues because he qualifies at both 2B and SS.

  3. MDS says:

    i gave him a little more credit with the average but hes not inside my top 12 at ss

  4. Quintilian B. Nasty says:

    A. Cabrera helps since he’s 2B/SS.

    I wonder, however, if he’s comparable to E. Aybar, especially since I think Aybar is supposed to hit leadoff this year.

    I wonder if you could do a feature on Aybar?

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