Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Could Miguel Cabrera Return To Fantasy Viability?

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We all know that the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera is no longer one of the elite players in the game. Obviously injuries have played a role, but he’s now 37-years old and has surpassed 20 HR just once in the past five seasons. It’s not just the power that has faded in recent years, as the career .313 hitter has repeatedly failed to post strong averages:

  • 2017 – .249
  • 2018 – .299
  • 2019 – .282
  • 2020 – .250

While Cabrera did hit 10 HR in ’20, he only added 4 doubles as he repeatedly failed to hit the ball with authority (30.3% Hard%). It’s interesting that he was still able to put a charge in the ball, at times, as he owned the eighth best Exit Velocity (93.2 mph), but at the same time his average distance per home run was just 395 feet (tying him for 165th in the league).

It would be easy to think that the power is there, but it’s hard to buy into. It’s fair to ask whether or not the average may rebound as well, considering his lack of speed and potential lack of upside in his BABIP (.283 in ’20). He’s not hitting the ball hard and puts the ball on the ground a fair amount of the time (41.9% groundball rate). He also showed an inability to make consistent contact, with a 14.0% SwStr% (his worst mark since 2003 over 314 AB).

It was all types of pitches where he struggled, though the spike could be seen far more in non-fastballs (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 9.94%
  • Breaking – 20.65%
  • Offspeed – 20.93%

That, coupled with the other concerns, tells us that he simply may never be able to hit for a strong average again.

Declining Power + .250-.260ish Average = Fantasy Non-Factor

It’s not to say that Cabrera can’t make an impact, even if it’s just for a small stretch, but expecting him to make a significant impact would be a mistake. He’s simply no longer a fantasy factor.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball

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