Opposite Field: Melky Cabrera Like A Boss

Posted on 03 August 2012 by Brian M. Jones

Who amongst us has a boss who seemed undeserving of the praise and a chance to punch the coin box.

Many of you may feel your boss seemed to achieve his position based on some reasoning other than actual performance. Perhaps he took credit for others performances. Maybe it was due to the fact that every time he did do something right the right people were looking. Maybe his mistakes weren’t noticed at all. Maybe the people doing the evaluating weren’t all that qualified to start with.

The positive results of all these scenarios amount to luck.

Sound like someone you know?

No deductive reasoning can tell us why this person is in charge of your daily grind.

Melky Cabrera is this man.

If you own Melky Cabrera in a fantasy league, sell now. The market has never been higher and it never will be.

Melky’s insane performance over the last 18 months has been a by product of a huge amount of luck and I’m about to show you how.

Look at the following chart.












Austin Jackson

8.7 %

25.2 %









Rogers Hornsby

11.7 %

6.8 %









David Freese

7.9 %

21.4 %









Ty Cobb

10.3 %

3.1 %









Harry Heilmann

9.8 %

5.7 %









Joe Jackson

9.3 %

1.9 %









Rod Carew

9.6 %

9.7 %









Joey Votto

13.6 %

18.3 %









Derek Jeter

8.8 %

14.7 %









Matt Kemp

8.1 %

23.2 %









Mike Darr

10.9 %

22.1 %









Shin-Soo Choo

11.4 %

21.2 %









Carlos Gonzalez

7.5 %

21.5 %









This chart illustrates the top 13 players of ALL-TIME in BABIP between 1919-today with at least 600 plate appearance.  In case you’re unfamiliar with BABIP just follow this link.

Why 13 and what does BABIP have to do with Melky?  Last one first, we know that BABIP contains a large quantity of luck.  There’s that word again.  Some hitters with very good bat control, an ability to hit to all fields, or who cover large areas of the plate can sustain higher BABIPs than normal.  These hitters thusly are able to influence BABIP in a way that is to be viewed as a skill.

I’m betting that Melky is not one these hitters.

The reason I have 13 names on this list is to reference #13 player on the list and put to Melky into the perspective of history.

Carlos Gonzalez has a career .353 BABIP.  That is the same as what Melky has done since the start of 2011.

Take a minute to soak in some of the names on the above list. Do you still think Melky is for real?

Lets explore deeper. From the start of his career in 2005 through 2010 just prior to his breakout season Cabrera put up a .288 BABIP. In 2011 that number jumped to .332 and to .386 through about 100 games in 2012.

If you still think Cabrera has graduated to elite status I offer you the following. If you can suggest that .332 in 2011 his new standard then that would put Melky in a 3 way tie with Lou Gehrig and Larry Walker, both players who carried a .332 BABIP.

So what can we learn by comparision? Gehrig had a 15.6% walk rate and Walker 11.4% Prior to his 2011 break out Melky had a walk rate of 8.0%. This has fallen to 5.0 and 6.7 in 11 and 12. Another area of regression we say from Melky has been an increase, albeit a small one, in his K%. His BA in 2011 jumped 50 points from 2010 and is up almost another 50 in 2012.

I think I have made a fairly good point with the numbers and based on the evidence I see what would I attribute this luck to? My opinion is that from 2010 to 2011 the Melkman saw an increase of nearly 200 plate appearances. Given his drop in BB and K rates combined with a lofty near historic BABIP I would point to the suggestion that Melky is just swinging away. He has sacrificed walks for extra swings and given the massive uptick in BABIP we can deduce those swings are leading to hits.

Finally if you’re going to point to Melkys HR rate or ISO, don’t. Because remembering how BABIP is calculated we know that the HR were already subtracted from the equation. And, if you read my article last week on FIP we know that there are only three true outcomes, homeruns, walks, and strikeouts. A quick look at his plate discipline will enhance the theory I have suggested here.

They support the luck factor by illustrating over the past three years Melky has seen his swing rate jump from just under 25% to 35.5%, he is swinging at more pitches. His first strike swing rate is up 6% and his contact rate up 7%.

Finally lets get back to the fantasy angle.

While there is certainly a chance Melky has improved, I don’t think it is to the degree that we have seen the last year and half. So this comes back to my suggestion to sell Melky. If his drop in BABIP returns back to even a league average of about .300 you can count on big losses of production. Remember fantasy is like playing with living, breathing stocks. Sometimes they get hurt, go to jail or post funny zingers on twitter, but the similarity remains the same. Buy low sell high. Unless Cabrera reaches for truly historic figures you can rest assured selling him now would be selling at his highest.

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Tanned Tom Says:

    Good article. Cabrera is just swinging away. Same as last year with KC. His level of production is not sustainable. Shortly he will regress to the .270 hitter with middling power he was before.

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