For all of the grief that New York Mets’ second-baseman Asdrubal Cabrera was taking from fans throughout the offseason and right up until Opening Day, this season couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for the veteran switch-hitter.
After having his $8.5 million option picked up by the team in the offseason, under the assumption that he would be playing both second and third base, Cabrera, 32 has made Sandy Alderson & Co.’s decision to bring him back look like a smart one.
After a two-homer game on Tuesday, one from each side of the plate no less, and another hit last night, Cabrera is hitting .333 with a .988 OPS, three home runs, five runs batted in, three doubles, and three walks.
His batting average on balls in play is .333, 25 points higher than his career BABIP of .308. While this number will likely come back down at some point, it shows just how locked-in the Mets’ second-bagger has been to start the season.
Since taking an oh-fer in the opener versus St. Louis, Cabrera has racked up a hit in each of the Mets next ten games for a total of 15, four behind MLB-leader Andrelton Simmons of the Angels (19).
In the past, most of the complaints about Cabrera have been about his defense. According to Fangraphs, his ultimate zone rating at third-base, in limited time at the position (351.2 career innings), is -1.8. Not terrible but not great. At shortstop, his UZR is an abysmal -48.7 in nearly 9,000 innings (8,985).
But at second base, where Cabrera will be spending all of his time this season unless injuries ravage this team, and even then he would be a last resort option to play elsewhere, his career UZR is a respectable -0.1 in 2,141 innings at the position.
So far this season, he’s already got a -0.3 accumulated at second, good for 20th among MLB second-basemen (Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis, 0.8 UZR, leads the way); middle of the pack.
His defensive runs saved at second base haven’t been awful either. After two outstanding seasons at the position in 2007 and 2008 (5 DRS and 11 DRS in 321 and 776.2 innings, respectively), he hasn’t had a positive ranking for a season since then.
His -4 at second last season would have tied Brian Dozier for 12th in the major leagues if he had qualified, but he only played 274.1 innings at the position.
Mediocrity at second is really all the Mets need out of Cabby. That shouldn’t be asking too much of an slightly below average-fielding second-baseman.
If Cabrera can continue this type of production, fans likely won’t be so critical of this lynchpin player anymore.
They may actually start to appreciate the consistency he’s brought to the plate during his time here. His statistics as a Met are .282/.345/.461 with 40 home runs, 126 RBI, 65 doubles, in 287 games, in case anyone forgot.