Asdrubal Cabrera was a strong offensive player in 2011 and 2012. Then from 2013-2015, he put up a combined .712 OPS, one that was that high only because of a monster second half of 2015, when a .348 BABIP led to a .916 OPS, after he posted a .627 OPS in the first half of the year. Then through games of August 21, Cabrera had a .712 OPS. Then the last six weeks of the season, he put up a .350/.418/.664 line, thanks to 10 HR and a .355 BABIP.
In a way, it’s similar to Daniel Murphy in 2015. From 2012-2014, Murphy put up OPS marks of .735, .733 and .734. And through games of August 16, Murphy had a .736 OPS. But from 8/17 to the end of the year, Murphy slugged .542 – 140 points above what he had done previously – and that doesn’t even count his post-season exploits. And Murphy carried his big hitting into 2016. Can Cabrera do the same thing in 2017? Here’s what we think:
Cabrera posted a career-high .194 ISO last year, which most of us don’t expect he’ll duplicate. He did this in part thanks to a personal-best 14.0 HR/FB rate. This time, none of us expect a repeat performance. Overall, we project him to be comfortably above his 2013-15 production yet noticeably below his 2016 output. Except for Dalton, who expects him to post an .842 OPS, which is 32 points above last season’s career mark.
Perhaps the most interesting thing is the RBI forecast. We have a range between 44 (me) and 83 (Mike R.), with the majority of people projecting a total in the 60s. Cabrera batted in numerous spots in the lineup last year but settled into the two-hole, where he’ll likely start 2016. The Mets got 73 RBIs from the second spot in their lineup last year, so it’s not unreasonable to think that Cabrera would get most of those.
Here’s what the group thinks Cabrera will do in 2017:
We expect Cabrera to have an OPS 44 points lower than a year ago, yet deliver two more RBIs. We must be anticipating him to be more clutch than he was in 2016. Regardless, this seems like a very reasonable forecast. Let’s see how it stacks up to the computer models:
Steamer is the least optimistic, essentially expecting a return to his 2013-15 numbers. ZiPS projects the most playing time and has the median OPS forecast. And while ours takes our usual optimistic position, it’s right in line with playing time, homers and RBIs to what the computer models suggest.
The ZiPS comp for Cabrera is Hector Lopez, who was a solid offensive performer before falling off a cliff in his age 31 season. Cabrera turned 31 in November. Lopez went from a 114 OPS+ in 1960 to a 64 mark in the following season, as he went from a .775 OPS to a .596 mark. Ouch. Lopez rebounded in 1962 to a 98 OPS+ but never again reached the marks he had in 1960 and earlier.