Bounce Back Candidate: Miguel Cabrera
Each week I’ll be looking in to a bounce back candidate at each position. These are going to be more of a stat based, analytical deep dive on a specific player. The projections next to the player names are an average of THE BAT, ATC, Steamer, and ZIPS projection systems found on Fangraphs. NFBC ADP data is from the date range 1/01/2019-02/11/2019. Injuries held Miggy back last year but can he bounce back?
Miguel Cabrera, DET (ADP 167): 529 PA, 63 R, 19 HR, 70 RBI, 1 SB, .281/.366/.466/.832
Prior to the 2018 season, Cabrera had questions about his ability to perform moving forward. Those questions were answered after an injury shortened, disappointing season. His 38 games played were a career low for a player who hadn’t played in less than 119 games since his rookie year in 2003. He’d been a remarkably durable player throughout his entire career before he started having back problems and back problems typically don’t get a whole lot better with age. There’s some serious long term concern that Miggy can ever play 130+ games again. The only positive, injury wise, is that his season ending injury last year was a torn biceps and not a back issue.
While he was on the field he was putting up much better numbers than his disastrous 2017. He had the hardest Hard% of his career in a small sample and kept his HR/FB% steady with previous seasons. The walk rate and subsequent OBP came back to normal Miggy levels, as well as the K%. The most glaring negative from his 2018 stat line is the 20.4% fly ball rate and 54.6% ground ball rate. His career numbers are 36% and 41.6% respectively. There’s a chance that he wasn’t lifting the ball because he was dealing with biceps and hamstring injuries but I’m betting some of that is due to aging. He’s going to need to pair Hard% with a much higher FB% if he’s going to be anything close to the Miggy of old. With the retirement of Victor Martinez, Cabrera will slot in at DH substantially more, which will keep him off his feet and hopefully help with his recurring back injuries.
If you squint, you can see a path to him being a top 100 player again, but it’s difficult to count on a 36 year old coming off serious injuries in consecutive years to truly have a bounce back season. I’m not dying to draft him at his current ADP, but if I have a batting average deficient team he’ll be on my radar. At the very least he should be a batting average anchor, as a perennial gap-to-gap hitter, if he gets the plate appearances.