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Entries in Melky Cabrera (4)

Thursday
Aug162012

10 Melky Cabrera Replacements in Fantasy Baseball

Melky Cabrera may have cost himself millions in free agency and the Giants the inside track to a playoff spot following his PED suspension, but Bruce Bochy isn't the only one scrambling to find a replacement for the man who ranked second in batting (.346), 13th in on-base percentage (.390) and 24th in slugging (.516) this season while also stealing double-digit bases. Fantasy baseball owners who benefitted from Melky's meteoric season must now find a fill-in. Here are ten outfielders who could offer some help, ranked by their respective ownership rates in ESPN leagues.

Craig Gentry, Rangers (0.4% ownership in ESPN leagues)

Gentry doesn't have a set spot in Texas' lineup, but he gets a fair amount of plate appearances with one of either Josh Hamilton  Nelson Cruz usually aching and David Murphy not performing well against lefthanded pitching (.263/.309/.357 career line). And while Gentry probably won't continue get his on balls in play nearly 38% of the time, he's ultra-quick (30-for-35 career in swiping bases) and he's put that speed to use by putting more balls in play. Gentry has cut his miss rate from 18.4% to 16.8% (20.7% MLB average), and his K rate has declined from 17.6% to 13.3% (19.6% average).

Jonny Gomes, Athletics (0.9%)

Gomes continues to scuffle against right-handers (.213/.343/.382 this season, .223/.308/.425 career), but he's murderizing left-handers like usual, both high and low in the zone:

Gomes' slugging percentage by pitch location vs. lefties, 2012

Jonny is slugging .556 versus left-handers, sandwiched between Mark Teixeira and the now-DL'd Will Middlebrooks. If you have the luxury of platooning, Gomes could team with a righty killer lower on this list to give you All-Star production at a small cost.

Domonic Brown, Phillies (0.9%)

Brown is getting regular ABs for the Phillies following the Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence trades, though he admittedly hasn't done much with them to this point (a 79 OPS+ and zero homers in 58 PAs) and last really raked in Triple-A back in 2010. But maybe the 6-foot-5, 200 pound former top-five prospect can re-discover his power stroke in his second extended trial in the majors. So far, he's been a little too Juan Pierre-esque out there: Brown has made a lot of contact (12.9% miss rate in 2012), but he's pulling the ball just 23% of the time. Pierre pulls 28% of the time. Don't be like Juan, Dom.

Justin Maxwell, Astros (3%)

The 28-year-old's contact and injury woes led him to drift from Washington to the Bronx to Houston, but the man who could be mistaken for Giancarlo Stanton's stunt double has opportunity -- and a short left field porch -- with the Astros. He's slugging .469 with 12 HR in a little under 250 PAs. Contact remains his biggest nemesis, as Maxwell has punched out about 33% of the time. He's basically the anti-Pedro Cerrano, driving breaking and off-speed pitches (.543 slugging percentage against "soft stuff", compared to the .367 average) but struggling versus the heat (.373 slugging, .454 average).  The Astros, farther away from the pennant race than the Curiosity rover is from Earth, have the luxury of letting Maxwell figure it out.

Nori Aoki, Brewers (10%)

While Aoki doesn't drive the ball much, he'll add some steals (16 in 21 attempts so far) and he controls the zone well. Aoki has chased just 23% of pitches off the plate (28% average) and has swung and missed 14.2% of the time. A league-average hitter (103 OPS+) with good wheels beats settling for someone like Delmon Young and hoping against hope he discovers that strike zone is slightly smaller than the Great Lakes.

David Murphy, Rangers (12.2%)

Murphy is slugging a career-best .470 this season, thanks mostly to his taking a more "grip it and rip it" approach against breaking and off-speed pitches. Murphy missed  soft stuff only 15% of the time in 2011 (29.2% average), but he also slugged just .337 against curves, sliders and changeups. This year, he's missing 26.5% of the time he swings but is slugging .542 versus soft stuff. It's a good trade-off.

Starling Marte, Pirates (37.1%)

The Pirates' top position prospect has already displayed his power-speed combo since a late-July call-up (four HR, four SB and two triples). He certainly has more upside than the Aokis and Murphys of the world. But his plate discipline remains a big concern. Check out Marte' swing rate by pitch location, and then the league average:

Marte

 

League Avg.

 

Marte's jumpiness (35% chase rate) has led to a 3/23 BB/K ratio in 89 PAs so far. But if you can put up with some ugly swings, the payoff could be big.

Jon Jay, Cardinals (43.4%)

Jay, like Aoki, rarely whiffs (11.8% miss rate) and has a dash of speed (12 SB). He has also been more selective this season, particularly on stuff thrown low or on the outside corner:

Jay's swing rate, 2011

 

Jay's swing rate, 2012

 

Jay's chase rate is 26.1% in 2012, compared to 31.2% last year. That has allowed him to boost his walk rate (from 5.6% to 8.8%) and get on base at a career-best .390 clip.

Garrett Jones, Pirates (53.1%)

Jones doesn't walk much and he's positively platoon-worthy (.199/.234/.363 career vs. lefties). But if you use him as a righty-masher like the Pirates do, he has some value:

Jones' slugging percentage by pitch location vs. right-handers, 2012

 

Jones ranks between Prince Fielder and David Wright in slugging against righties (.547), and he has taken them deep 15 times this season. If you've got enough roster spots to mix and match, Jones is a good outfield option. Maybe you can pair him with Gomes. A Jones/Gomes platoon might not be sexy, but it would be plenty powerful.

Carlos Gomez, Brewers (64.8%)

Standing 6-4, 215 pounds, Gomez never fit the fleet-footed center fielder archetype but nonetheless played the little man's game at the plate early in his MLB career. But he has gradually decreased his ground ball rate in recent years (52.7% in 2010, 46.9% in 2011, 39.8% in 2012) and has increased his power output (he slugged .357 in '10, .403 in '11 and .466 this season). Gomez has hit 11 HR so far this year, and his 407 foot average distance on those shots is the same as teammate Aramis Ramirez. Dude has power. That power surge, in addition to his still-excellent speed (21-for-26 in SB), is why Gomez's ownership rate is spiking.

 

Wednesday
Aug152012

Melky Cabrera Suspended for Testosterone - Graphics and Numbers

From the Bill Chuck Files:

Giants All-Star Melky Cabrera has been suspended 50 games after testing positive for testosterone. The 27-year-old outfielder leads the majors with 159 hits this season and has hit 11 home runs and  driven home 69.

The suspension of Cabrera is effective immediately.

Here is a heatmap of Melky Cabrera's In Play Slugging percentage vs. the rest of the league thus far in 2012:

Here is a table comparing his numbers vs. the rest of the league thus far in 2012:

Rank: Carbrera's percentile rank vs. the rest of the leagues's batters
PLYR: Cabrera's numbers for each stat
AVG: The league avg. for  each stat
Remaining Columns: Avg for each stats within each assigned percentile rank 

Wednesday
Nov092011

Will Melky Bring His Bat to San Francisco?

Frustrated with Jonathan Sanchez's walks and injury woes and looking to resuscitate the National League's worst offense, the Giants traded the lefty to the Kansas City Royals a couple of days ago for outfielder Melky Cabrera. The switch-hitter, released by the Braves following a 2010 season in which his bat was skimpy and his belt, well, wasn't, rebounded in K.C. this past year. A .267/.328/.379 career hitter prior to 2011, Cabrera batted .305/.339/.470 in 706 plate appearances, establishing new highs in home runs (18) and Isolated Power (.164).

The question now becomes, can he maintain those offensive gains? He probably won't revert to being the slap hitter who aggravated both the Yankees and Braves, but I wouldn't fully drink the Melk-Man's Kool-Aid, either.

Cabrera did do a much better job of putting forceful swings on pitches thrown low in the strike zone. Pitchers like to hammer Melky at the knees from both sides of the plate:

Opponent pitch location to Cabrera in 2011

In the past, Cabrera struggled on low pitches. He slugged .305 on low pitches from 2008-2010, well below the .342 average for non-pitchers. That changed in 2011:

Cabrera's in-play slugging percentage by pitch location, 2011Cabrera had a .476 slugging percentage on low pitches with the Royals. Given the sample size involved, we can't just toss aside Melky's power display. Cabrera's 2011 Isolated Power was 52 points above his career average entering the year, and changes in ISO become reliable at about 550 plate appearances. That said, you can't just expect this is the new norm for him -- past performance does matter. The Hardball Times' Oliver projection system expects Cabrera to split the difference in 2012, posting a .139 ISO.

There's another reason to be skeptical that Melky will continue to hit as well as he did in 2011: his .332 batting average on balls in play was 42 points above his career average entering the season. You'll note that BABIP isn't on the list of stats with sample sizes linked to above, and that's because BABIP changes don't stabilize over one season and show much less of a year-to-year correlation. Cabrera's 2011 BABIP was in the 87th percentile among MLB hitters; his BABIP the previous three years was in the 62nd percentile. Odds are, he doesn't benefit from as many bloops and bleeders in 2012.

Overall, THT's Oliver forecasts a .279/.322/.418 line for Cabrera next season. That's close to the cumulative 2011 triple-slash for center fielders of .261/.326/.410, but there's also the issue of whether Cabrera is really someone you want patrolling the middle pasture (he has been a little more than seven runs worse than the average CF per 150 defensive games, per Ultimate Zone Rating). If he's going to be an asset for the Giants, Cabrera will need to prove the projections wrong and keep more of his power and contact gains.