Cleveland Indians: Asdrubal Cabrera Showing No Signs of Slowing Down
Cabrera, who has never hit more than 11 home runs in any professional season before 2011, comes into Tuesday with 12 home runs and a .308/.358/.546 line in 264 plate appearances.
Cabrera leads all major league shortstops in home runs, ISO (.238), SLG, wOBA (.399) and wRC+ (156). Furthermore his .399 wOBA ranks fourteenth in the majors, and his wRC+ ranks 11th.
His transformation to one of the top offensive shortstops in baseball has been a dramatic one, and many pundits wonder if he can keep this pace going for the rest of the season.
What has Cabrera done to drastically improve his power numbers? His ISO jumped from .071 last season to .238 (.146 for his career). Cabrera's peripherals have barely changed since last season. His strikeout rate has only increased from 15.7 to 15.8 percent, and his walk rate currently sits at 5.3 percent only down .3 percent from last season.
In terms of batted ball rates, nothing really grabs your attention. There are a few changes in terms of Cabrera's fly ball percentage, which has increased from 31.4 to 37.3 percent, and his decrease in ground ball percentage (51.7 to 45.6 percent).
These changes don't really explain the enormous jump in power, his HR/FB of 16 percent has increased from his 7.7 percent career rate.
According to Erik Hahmann of Rotographs, Cabrera has taken a more concerted effort to choke-up less on the bat in hitting counts and take bigger swings at certain pitches, which would make sense. Unlike Hahmann's later arguments, I don't see much of a change in terms of Cabrera's plate discipline. He is making less contact on pitches out of the strike zone, and his contact rate is similar to his career numbers.
Cabrera is on a pace for 34 home runs this season, but I feel he will finish with something close to 22 to 24. Jose Bautista has proved that power can emerge at any point during one's career, but I have hard time seeing this shortstop finish with more home runs than Troy Tulowitzki.
With that said, Cabrera should finish as one of the top-rated offensive shortstops in 2011.
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