Orlando Cabrera Randomly Hitting His Way into the Record Books

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Orlando Cabrera Randomly Hitting His Way into the Record Books

With 10 sacrifice flies on the season heading into Thursday’s games, Twins shortstop Orlando Cabrera is tied with some guy named Marlon Byrd for the American League lead in that category.

If you are on the verge of giving up on this column, I don’t blame you, as sacrifice flies are about the 258,000th most interesting metric in baseball.

However, what makes Cabrera’s prowess in hitting fly balls when a runner happens to be on third base notable is how remarkably consistent it has been over the course of the 34-year-old’s career; if he finishes with the league lead in sacrifice flies this season, it will mark the third time in four seasons he has done so.

Sacrifice flies belong to that controversial cadre of baseball statistics that also includes RBI or saves—metrics that are often misread because they are situational and generally not indicative of an individual player’s performance.

For example, one player could hit 10 fly balls with no one on base while another does it 10 times with a runner on third base—performances that are identical in reality but appear different on a spreadsheet that records sac flies and RBI.

To illustrate how odd it is that Cabrera routinely leads the league in sac flies, as well as finishing third in 2008 and second in 2003, take a look at the year-by-year leaderboards.

From 2006-2009, Justin Morneau and Kevin Youkilis are the only non-Cabrera players to finish in the top five in the American League more than once (Morneau in '07 and '08; Youk in '06 and '08). So effing weird.

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