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The Yankees need Oswaldo Cabrera to steady the ship as injuries mount

February 25, 2023; Clearwater, Florida, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Oswaldo Cabrera (95) prepares for hitting practice prior to a spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at BayCare Ballpark. Mandatory credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Harrison Bader’s oblique affair will cause him to go to IL with a strain. An often injured player, the Yankees likely expect Bader to have a stint at IL during the 2023 season, because they care about him more in October than in April. Without sounding too confident, it’s fair (if not more) to assume the Yankees will participate in the 2023 postseason. The Yankees’ depth will be tested, and on the ball-center side, Oswaldo Cabrera is the first man to go. The Venezuelan native electrified the Yankees in September, and now he will be tasked with stabilizing the Yankees lineup as the injury bug runs rampant.

Improve call quality

One of the biggest improvements we’ve seen Oswaldo Cabrera make is with call quality, something he’s struggled with in 2022. Cabrera has clocked out speeds of around 110 mph at the Triple-A level, but the issues stem from his stability. Despite finishing with 180 wRC+ and a 9.4% Barrel% over the last 22 starts, Cabrera only had an average exit speed of 87.4 MPH. It’s hard to generate high exit velocities while constantly hitting the ball in the air, and Cabrera’s 27.5% GB% indicates plenty of loft in his swing. If he can figure out how to consistently find the power in his fly balls, his ability to come out on top and pull the ball can lead to a potential 25-30 hour run.

The Yankees love the way Cabrera lifts and dribbles the ball, but if he can make the ball squarer, we’ll see Cabrera reach the offensive ceiling he can do. So far in spring training, he has an exit speed of 92.3 mph, which seems insignificant since he’s just spring training, but it’s unprecedented for Cabrera. Cabrera has 20 plate appearances in spring training, but only clocked an exit speed above 92 mph over that big stretch Once Last year from September 30th to October 4th, he had a 172 WRC+ over that stretch.

Yankees, Oswaldo Cabrera
March 5, 2023; North Port, Florida, USA; New York Yankees quarterback Oswaldo Cabrera (95) hits a home run during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at CoolToday Park. Mandatory credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Cabrera posted 111 WRC+ last season, which combined with his elite defense and versatility means he was someone for the Yankees king To join the squad daily. That’s still the case today, even as DJ LeMahieu is back in the fold with a healthy toe. Cabrera is one of the few viable left-handed options on a major league roster, and if he can continue his supremacy at the plate, the Yankees can’t afford to leave him out of the lineup. It’s a huge leap for Cabrera if he can drive the ball consistently, and he’s sure to amplify any stadium he plays on if he’s benched.

Hitting the ball hard is considered an “analytical” thing, but it has been in baseball since its inception. Yankees obsessed quickly out, as well as their best competitors, but this is not new information. Generating solid friction is always a good thing, and Cabrera’s addition of some miles to his batted balls should result in a higher SLG percentage, but also in a greater BA due to an increase in BAPIP (the rate at which balls hit during play). Higher exit speeds lead to higher injury expectations, so it’s possible that we could see better BA/OBP in 2023.

Part of what goes into OBP, though, is laminar discipline, something we’ve seen Oswaldo Cabrera make in strides at the major league level.

Yankees see better decision than Cabrera

One of the fundamentals of baseball that people don’t talk about enough is your swing decisions. Swinging putts and laying off balls as a concept is very simple to understand, but very difficult to implement. Pitchers are better than they’ve ever been, and modern technology has improved the pitch’s shape for pitchers across the game. Oswaldo Cabrera had shoulder trouble to start the year in 2022 that caused him to struggle with strikeout rates and may have delayed his MLB debut, but once he returned, we saw a massive improvement in his strikeout and walk totals:

  • First 22 games Triple A (injured)
  • Final 25 Triple-A game (after injury)

Although his walk rate didn’t see much improvement, the decrease in strikeouts and whets made Cabrera a breakout star with Scranton. He hit seven club hits while hitting . 330 in that 25-game stint, giving him ₹170+. In total, the MiLB chase rate was well above average, and his call rates improved dramatically as the season went on. This same trend has occurred at the MLB level, minus the injury-plagued start. Cabrera would press early, forcing swing decisions and trying to get out in front of the baseball to pull the ball up in the air, as if he could hit a home run the Yankees would likely pull themselves out of their sluggishness.

Some people forget the context for exactly how Cabrera was pushed into the lineup, as the Yankees were in the midst of a slump that led to back-to-back losses at home to the Rays and Blue Jays, who were hot in New York. Tail. He was an excellent defender, but his bat was unplayable. To add to the damage, Andrew Benintende suffered a season-ending hamstring injury, and with a confident shot from Aaron Hicks, the Yankees turned to a fielder to play the LF. They were on the brink of the biggest meltdown of the modern era, but Oswaldo Cabrera rose to the occasion.

The Yankees entered that game tied 1-1 in a series-deciding run to gain momentum after taking three out of four against the Twins, and Cabrera landing the final blow on the hopes of the Tampa Bay Rays. His first HR at the major league level, he sparked a hot stretch where he snapped. New York Yankees. How did Oswaldo Cabrera turn things around? Well, it all comes down to swing decisions.

O-Swing% is the out-of-zone swing rate, which is the cooler way of saying “chasing rate”. We could see a sharp drop in his stalking rate as he continued to play, marking his maturity at the plate as he propelled the Yankees to a 15-7 finish and the Middle East crown. We’ve seen Cabrera’s BB% increase exponentially, and he’s no longer afraid to pass the baton to the guy behind him. rookies love To swing, which makes sense, they’re so young and getting their debut on the biggest stage in baseball, everyone dreams of that moment.

Improving his plate system combined with shift restrictions can give Cabrera around .330 OBP, and when you see his .182 isolated power (SLG% – BA) from last season, you’re looking at a very good hitter. The Cabrera embodies the jack-of-all-trades archetype, and while it doesn’t have many elite traits, it’s above average in so many categories that it more than makes up for it. Figuring out how to stay within himself has changed the direction of his season, but now the Yankees will need him to get going again.

How did Oswaldo Cabrera’s role change with Badr’s exit?

The Yankees have been adamant that he wants Oswaldo Cabrera to play all over the Diamonds, and while that is still a possibility, the Yankees should definitely start Cabrera in RF as often as possible. A lot of fans hate Aaron Hicks, and that’s understandable, but the Yankees want to see if the adjustments he made to his hand position can translate from spring training to the regular season. You may not like it, but Hicks’ LF defense is easily the best on the list, and if his racket can improve on the 90 WRC+ mark last season, he’s a good starting pitcher.

In a world where he’s struggling similarly to what he did in the second half of last year, you might see the Yankees get creative in the LF. One of the LF’s standout names is Rafael Ortega, who in my eyes provides the Yankees with a high OBP hitter that can play all three outfield positions and give them the power left. Willie Calhoun has also impressed, but his inability to play reliably on a team with a depleted depth chart could hurt his chances of making the squad. With all that in mind, Cabrera needs to be the most played man in this group.

I can cite data until my fingers turn blue, but there is an electric energy to the Cabrera that can bring spark to any lineup. While Harrison Bader is baseball’s best due to his excellent defensive positioning defense and impressive baseline skill, the better hitter might be Oswaldo Cabrera. Playing Hicks-Judge-Cabrera at LF-CF-RF, the Yankees remain the defensive elite without dropping an offensive step. Are they worse with Badr on IL? Certainly, there is no way to argue otherwise. Can Oswaldo Cabrera help the Yankees thrive in Bader’s absence? 100%.

Overshadowed were the excitement around Oswald Peraza’s rookie campaign, the towering sprints of Jason Dominguez, and the incredible maturity of Anthony Volpe, the most proven rookie at the major league level to date; Oswaldo Cabrera. The Yankees still have Cabrera around the field, Stanton can play RF in pinch-hit with Judge in CF and Ortega can also run the field if needed.

It’s exciting to lose Harrison Bader, who also has such an exciting presence on the field with his speed and athleticism, but the Yankees have to move on. Injuries are a constant in baseball, and they’re an ordeal the Yankees will have to prove they can overcome. No one will feel sorry for the Bronx Bombers, and they will turn to Oswaldo Cabrera to give the opponents a real reason to feel sorry.

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