SleepersMay 4, 2009

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Sleeper Watch

By Matt Levenberg

Stuck with JJ Hardy, Troy Tulowitzki, Stephen Drew or the like at shortstop? How about Dan Uggla, Mike Aviles, or Placido Polanco at second base? Asdrubal Cabrera can help you out at either position. The Indians are fifth in the American League in runs scored and Cabrera is one of the reasons why. Cabrera began the year batting ninth; however, he has jumped to the two-hole, which should lead to a major increase in run production.

Last season after the All-Star break, Cabrera batted .320 with 5 HRs, 3 SBs, 32 Rs and 33 RBIs in 194 at-bats batting in the nine-hole. If you extrapolate those numbers to 550 at-bats, which is a fairly conservative estimate because he could bat second for the rest of the season, you get a stat line of .320, 14 HRs, 9 SBs, 91 Rs and 94 RBIs. If you pair that with the fact that he’s currently batting behind Grady Sizemore and ahead of Victor Martinez (and Travis Hafner when he’s healthy), those run and RBI numbers are within reach.

The potential for an increase in steals is also there. Cabrera stole 23 bags in 96 games in Double-A in 2007. He also swiped four bags in April, putting him on pace for around 20 on the season. Eric Wedge loves to run, as evidenced by the Indians being in the top six in the majors in steals, and Cabrera could be a beneficiary of that strategy.

On top of everything else, Cabrera has been making great contact this year. He is batting .317 with 1 HR, 4 SBs, 17 Rs and 11 RBIs. If he keeps up this rate, he will score around 110 runs, hit 7 long-balls, steal 28 bags, and knock in 70 runs, with the upside for even more with his new spot in the order.

Will he keep up the .320 average? Although it is not impossible because he sustained it in the second half last year and carried it a month into this season, as a career .288 minor league hitter we should expect Cabrera to regress to closer to the .295-.300 range.

Cabrera is currently owned in about half of Yahoo leagues and ESPN leagues, I advise you to snatch him up if he’s available. Once the fantasy baseball public realizes that Cabrera has jumped up in the order, owners will pounce on him.

Matt Levenberg is a student at Duke University but more importantly an avid Mets fan, and he believes that this is the year they will not collapse in September. You can find Matt at the cafe posting as j24jags hanging around the Baseball Leftovers, Game Commentary, the Brushback League, or any other forum at the Cafe.
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