The DEFEND Cleveland Show

Asdrubal Cabrera and the Tale of a Two Year Slump

Asdrubal Mendoza
At what point does the Tribe pull the plug on this guy? Contract year or not, the increasingly dim hope of a possible trade or not, or even that the team needs to allow the projected phenom Francisco Lindor more time to develop or not, Cabrera has apparently lost all ability to be effective. And this isn’t a recent development.

It’s hard to believe anymore as we watch him hack away at seemingly every first pitch he sees without any confidence to show for it, that he’s the same player who from 2009-2012 averaged over .280 at the plate with a .750 OPS and was a back-to-back All-Star. Especially when you take a hard look at his efforts since July of 2012 and that last All-Star appearance and how he’s been hitting the ball below the League’s average. An average that includes every time a pitcher attempts to swing a bat too. Which is rarely an effective occurrence. In other words, it’s an average that’s lower than it would be if you just counted the guys like Cabrera who supposedly are only focused on hitting and fielding. Not sure what Asdrubal is focused on anymore, because not only has he hit below this average that’s graded on a friendly curve, he’s been swimming in depths well below it.

When you consider it’s supposed to be his bat that makes up the difference for his being the worst defensive rated everyday shortstop in the game since becoming the Indians main guy at the position back in 2009, his long running slump of being a below average hitter is what begs to ask why the team hasn’t cut their losses and moved on already.1 How much longer is this wait going to be? Specifically with a prospect like Lindor who tore up the Spring and is at a point where many agree what’s left for him to learn could be done in the Bigs.

As we peer through the lens of hindsight at Cab’s $16.5 two year extension the club gave him in 2012 it’s hard not only to think how much of a waste this has turned out to be,2 but to also look at it as the really the only reason that’s keeping him in the lineup anymore. After all, you can’t pay a guy that kind of scratch and not play him. Not in Cleveland under the Dolan’s watch, anyway.

Keep in mind we aren’t talking about just a routine slump here anymore. In addition to his career long struggles attempting to field the position, he’s been flat pathetic at the plate. Since July of 2012 his average BA and OPS are a lowly.237 and .672. The compared MLB average I spoke of over this span is .255/.725. Cabrera’s ever plummeting career numbers of .274/.742 literally look unattainable for him anymore. In fact, he’s only had two months over this horrid stretch3 of abject futility where he posted numbers that were better (Sept-Oct 2012 .274/.782 and May 2013 .278/.806). Thus the free fall with those career numbers. His next best month outside of those two he showed some semblance of his old self? Sept-Oct last season when he hit .242/.765.


And to think you still hear people today saying he played well to end the season last year. I guess that’s all relatively speaking.

There’s no doubt his extension in 2012 seemed to be in accordance with his production at the time,4 and two trips to the Mid-Summer Classic certainly helped as well. But for the last two years he’s technically been worse than two Indians infielders who in recent memory were repeatedly demoted by the club for less, in Chisenhall (career .252/.709), and even LaPorta who’s reportedly now playing in Mexico somewhere (career .238/.694).

One has to think that if Cabrera wasn’t moderately successful early in his career and not left making $10 million this season based on these early successes, ol’ Cab’s would probably be operating under the “utility” tag if he was even here at all, and either way we’d already be seeing what Lindor can do. Until then, unless all of a sudden Cabrera starts miraculously putting up consistent positive numbers again (dreams are so beautiful, aren’t they?), I’ll be wondering aloud, and loudly, and often, why we aren’t watching anything else besides a man who’s barely playing above the Mendoza Line and defensively looks best suited for second base.  Hell, I’d settle for seeing Mike Aviles play everyday over this guy. He sure couldn’t be any worse.
– Mike James

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  1. According to Fangraphs, from 2009-2014 Asdrubal has logged 5,508 innings at short and shamefully boasts a -13.7 Def rating for his efforts. Not only is that far and away the worst rating for any shortstop in the game with at least 4,000 innings over that span, he’s the only shortstop of that bunch to post a negative rating. Derek Jeter and his woefully limited range like that of Hummer on a dollar’s worth of gas is the next worst at +2.9 []
  2. Hello Hafner and Sizemore all over again, but at least those two were riddled with injuries for an excuse []
  3. Not counting June of last year when he only appeared in 8 games due to injury []
  4. I hailed it at the time and even back in 2011 campaigned heavily for Asrubal to be an All-Star. Though this article is all about what have you done for me the last two years, both his All-Star bids and even his contract at the time looked to be correct decisions []

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Posted by on May 2 2014. Filed under Featured, Show Reports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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