Toronto Blue Jays Report Card: Melky Cabrera
With the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays season officially in the books, it comes time to reflect on the individual performances turned in by the players on the Jays’ roster.
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Over the coming days, each player on the team, aside from September call-ups, will have their season recapped and graded. Their contract status will also be examined.
Today, we keep with the outfield trend and grade Melky Cabrera, who bounced back in a big way after a disappointing 2013.
Sep 5, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) winces after swinging at a pitch against the Boston Red Sox during the sixth inning at Fenway Park. Cabrera would be taken out of the game. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Batting out of the second spot in John Gibbons’ order, Cabrera posted big numbers, and was the Jays’ most consistent hitter (all due respect to Adam Lind, but Cabrera can hit left-handed pitching). Before sustaining a season-ending finger injury on September 5th, the Dominican Republic native appeared in 139 games for the Blue Jays. He finished the year with a .301 batting average to go along with 16 home runs and 73 RBIs.
The 30-year-old delivered with men on base, boosting his average up to .338 in those situations. Despite these numbers, it is interesting to note his statistics with runners in scoring position with two outs. In 55 at-bats, his average dropped to .218. He also proved he is capable of delivering late in ball games, posting a .371 on-base percentage in the eighth inning or later.
Shifting to defence, in 2013, Cabrera looked like a cinder block moving in left field. He appeared to be a total defensive liability, and many were using the fact he was no longer on performance enhancing drugs to explain his atrocious outfield play. Well, it turned out Cabrera was dealing with a tumour on his spine, and with that physical and mental burden removed, he looked like a completely different player this season.
Jul 27, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) catches a fly ball during the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
The former San Francisco Giant made a number of highlight reel plays with his glove and with his arm. Cabrera’s 13 outfield assists put him in a tie for third in the majors in that category. Overall, based on advanced statistics, he still isn’t anything remarkable when it comes to defence, but he is not the liability we saw last year either. His consistent production at the plate more than makes up for any defensive deficiencies.
Next Year’s Contract Status: Free Agent
Cabrera has undoubtedly earned himself a large payday following the season he just turned in. The Jays will figure to be in the conversation to retain the switch-hitter’s services, but will they be able to compete with teams with higher payrolls? Will Cabrera take a discount to stay with the club that gave him a second chance after his suspension, or will he want to maximize salary to make up for his last contract? Can the Blue Jays’ strong Dominican contingent convince him to stay? If he leaves, how does Toronto replace him? Let the speculation begin.