It would not be hard to find players in the Mets locker room to whom you could point and say, “without (fill in the blank) the Mets would not be in the Wild Card Playoff game.” You surely could say that about Yoenis Cespedes, Noah Syndergaard, Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed, and Jeurys Familia. Let’s throw senior citizen Bartolo Colon in there too.
In our house my wife and I watch Mets games together, she buried in a book or doing a crossword puzzle, while I am looking up each pitch and then checking Twitter, other games’ boxscores, or monitoring the Hillary-vs-Donald death march.
When a Met hits a home run my wife will chime in, “Time for Hat Man”. That means that other than when he’s hit the dinger or is the on-deck batter Asdrubal Cabrera will lift the helmet from the hero of the moment and quickly flip it to the waiting bat boy.
Along with Reed’s signature lifting of his cap after another successful 8th inning effort and the amazing Colon home run for the ages the Hat Man moments will stick with me as the enduring visuals of the 2016 season.
There’s no doubt that Cabrera deserves to be named as a player without whom the club would not have made the post season.
You will recall that in 2015 the Mets tried to force a square peg (Wilmer Flores) into a round hole (the shortstop position). It was a ridiculous thing to try but was forced on the team whose only alternative was the Nerf-like bat of Ruben Tejada.
Realizing the club desperately needed a real shortstop the Mets signed Cabrera to a two-year $16.5 million contract with an option for a third year. Since the buyout in year three would be $2 million then the deal could be seen as an $18.5 million commitment for two years.
In year one of the deal things have worked to perfection as Cabrera had his second 20+ home run season of his 10 year career. He hit righties and lefties and put up an OPS above 800 from both sides of the plate. And while he’s no Andrelton Simmons in the range department we have seen a competent heads-up player who can turn pretty much every ball he can reach into an out.
This table shows you his 2016 Mets stats against his 10 year career averages normalized to a 162 game season
|162 Game Avg.||606||81||163||36||3||16||74||11||4||50||118||0.269||0.329||0.419||0.748|
Looking at the rate stats you see an 11 point bump in batting average, seven points in on base percentage, an impressive 55 point increase in slugging percentage which adds to an OPS 62 points higher than his career norm. Now that’s one heck of a season especially in an infielder’s age-30 season.
The enthusiasm he has shown in creating the role of Hat Man tells me that in a clubhouse rich in veteran leadership he fits right in there like Granderson, Neil Walker, Colon, and others.
We have seen Cabrera play through a painful injury to his left knee. Were the Mets to have lost out on a playoff spot some weeks ago it would not have been a surprise to see Cabrera put on the disabled list due to this injury.
Basically Cabrera has been everything Sandy Alderson could have hoped for and more.
We Mets should be tipping our caps to Hat Man.