Copy and pasted from http://www.nomaas.org
The 411 on Melky Cabrera
by Marvin the Marvelous Mormon
Melky Cabrera, oft-maligned by uninformed and impatient New York pundits, had a regrettable stint with the Yankees last season when the Yankees ignored a mediocre couple months in AA in favor of a tiny hot streak in Columbus. Perhaps the best that can be said about Melky’s unfortunately unforgettable time in the big leagues is that he managed to finish with a batting average above the Mendoza line.
A grand total of nineteen plate appearances is far too small of a sample to draw any conclusions, for better or for worse. Many sports columnists and fans have already concluded the latter, however. Deciding that no legitimate prospect would ever start out their career looking so lost both at the plate and in the field, Melky was written off despite fellow Yankees’ prospect and eventual Rookie of the Year challenger, Robinson Cano, starting off even worse – 2 hits, both of which were singles, in his first 22 Abs.
In fact, Cabrera is pretty similar to Cano. Both are high contact, line drive hitters with middling power and plate discipline. Unlike Cano, however, Cabrera won’t have the luxury of playing up the middle of the diamond with the Yankees, so he’ll have to hit even more if he wants to have a successful career with the Yankees. The good news, though, is that Cabrera not only has been a better hitter over his minor league career than Cano was, but he’s dominating his competition right now in a way that Cano never did.
The 186 OPS+ he sported at AAA would be even better than Derrek Lee of the Cubs had last year, assuming of course that Cabrera is able to maintain this production, which even the most ardent of his supporters would have to admit is a dubious assumption.
How much regression is Melky due for, though? He’s currently making contact about 93% of the time (AB – SO + SF) / (AB + SF) while the average player does so only 80% of the time. His BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) of .381 is cause for concern simply because so few players are capable of maintaining such a mark, but luckily for Yankees’ fans, Cabrera hits line drives 23% of the time, which, to be a fanboy for just a second, is just awesome. He also sports a career BABIP of .329, so even though his AVG is due to slip some, he’ll still remain a great producer with his contact rate and the power he’s showing so far this year - isolated power of about .190, or 1.5 times the league average. Nobody should think that Melky’s current level of production is his true talent level. Even with all his strong points he still isn’t as selective as you’d like, nor will he hit for quite the power you’d like to see in a corner outfielder, regardless of this season.
He will hit, though. At worst he should end up with a career like Orlando Merced’s – not good enough in the field to stick in CF and not enough power to be an everyday corner OFer when the singles aren’t falling. But he has the potential to be a valuable everyday player. He hits the ball often and he hits the ball hard and on a rope. He won’t be a great player, but I think a .325/.375/.475 line during his prime is possible. Assuming he’ll be an above average defender in RF, he’ll be a great commodity both in the future and right now. After starting tonight’s game in RF it appears he will be up soon, and I for one am hoping that this move is permanent and we will no longer have to watch ball after ball fall in front of, over his head, or just out of the reach of an aging Sheffield.
Stats to know:
Contact Rate: (AB – SO + SF) / (AB + SF). Shows a player’s ability to avoid striking out. Minor leaguers with a contact rate under 80% are unlikely to be successful major league players unless they have phenomenal plate discipline and power.
Isolated Power: SLG – AVG. Shows a player’s true power and power potential. In the majors .160 is typically average, while it varies widely in the minors.
BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play): (H – HR) / (AB – HR – SO). Typically around .300, this is largely influenced by line drive rates and to a smaller degree groundballs. More luck is involved here than in walk or power rates for a hitter, but it is still a skill. If you don’t believe me just check out the careers of Jeter or Ichiro!