SleepersJune 29, 2009

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Sleeper Watch

By R.J. White

This Sleeper of the Week is for owners in deep leagues looking for a boost in SBs. Everth Cabrera isn’t going to help your team anywhere else over the long haul, but he’s got several things going for him that could make him a critical part of your fantasy team’s speed corps.

World-class speed. In Single-A last year, Cabrera swiped 73 bags in 530 plate appearances. While this rate is a bit higher that we had seen from him in the past, it definitely didn’t qualify as surprising. This great speed has also done a great deal of good for his batting average. He currently has a 61.8% groundball rate in the majors, and if he can keep that rate at or above 50%, he could continue to pile up infield hits. Once he reaches first, we know he’ll be looking to steal second.

Playing time. Cabrera has started at SS for the Padres in each of the last nine games since his return from the disabled list. This isn’t because Cabrera is an elite hitter whose bat needs to be in the lineup at all times; rather, the Padres really have no one else on whom to rely. David Eckstein is solely a second baseman at this stage. Luis Rodriguez has been rightfully parked on the bench since Cabrera’s return. This job looks to be Cabrera’s to keep for the rest of the year.

Positional scarcity. In deep leagues and in leagues that use the MI position, finding a useful SS has been tough this year. In one league, I had to rely on Erick Aybar while Jason Bartlett was injured. If Cabrera was currently available in this league, I’d definitely dump Aybar for him. Alas, someone else beat me to the punch. If you’re in a deep league and had been playing the injured Yuniesky Betancourt, Aybar, or another uninspiring option, you definitely need to take a look at adding the fleet-footed Cabrera.

Now, some of you are going to take a look at that .318 average and think he could help you in that category as well. I’d caution against that kind of optimism, as he really has no experience above Single-A. He’s going to have some definite dry spells as the everyday SS in San Diego, but if you can battle through them and bench him when the time is right, Cabrera will give you a much-needed boost in SBs while he’s hot.

R.J. White (or daullaz) has been actively involved in fantasy sports for over 14 years, making him an addict at this point. He loves writing, the Atlanta Braves, music, the Buffalo Bills, theatre, the Philadelphia Eagles, his family, and the number 42, though not in that order.
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