What can the Texas Rangers expect from Asdrubal Cabrera at the plate? Where in the batting order will he hit?
It took a little over a month for the Texas Rangers to find their new third baseman after trading Jurickson Profar. 12-year vet, Asdrubal Cabrera, signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with Texas on January 24th. They needed to find someone from the outside to play third, and while Manny Machado was not that guy, Cabrera looks to be a very nice signing.
I’ve always been a fan of his. He used to make spectacular play after spectacular play as the Cleveland Indians’ shortstop. You can see his most famous piece of glove work in the following video:
Somehow, Cabrera has never won a Gold Glove Award. He likely never will now that his baseball youth is behind him. Still, I bet the 33-year-old plays a darn good hot corner this season with Texas. He’ll sure up a left side of the infield that was quite shaky a year ago.
Defense is important, but offense sells tickets. What can Texas Rangers fans expect from Cabrera at the plate? And which spot in the lineup will be his?
He was on pace to have perhaps the best offensive season of his career in 2018. In 98 games with the New York Mets, Cabrera hit .277 with 18 home runs and 58 RBI. Though, he struggled at the plate after being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. Playing his final 49 games of the season with Philly, he hit .228 with 5 home runs and 17 RBI.
Only Cabrera can answer for his late season struggles, but don’t allow them to waver your confidence in him for the upcoming campaign.
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He’s a switch-hitter with 5,686 at-bats in his MLB career. He’s never struck out more than 120 times in a season and his overall OBP is .330.
What did the Rangers desperately need last year?
They needed another right-handed bat, someone who could put the ball in play, and someone who could reach base. Asdrubal Cabrera checks all three boxes.
Texas ranked fourth in MLB in strikeouts and 25th in hits last year. All it takes are those two statistics to tell you how poor of a contact team they were. On the other hand, they ranked a respectable 15th in on-base percentage. Robinson Chirinos ranked second on the team with a .338 OBP, so hopefully Cabrera can offset that loss with a high OBP of his own.
Given the lineup flexibility in today’s MLB, Cabrera could slot anywhere. The top of the Rangers’ lineup is basically set, but all it takes is a bad start from a Rougned Odor or Joey Gallo to force a shakeup. Cabrera could earn some ABs in the two-hole and maybe even the three-hole if his power stroke carries over from last year.
However, come opening day, I predict his name is listed 6th or 7th on the lineup card. The Texas Rangers will be facing the Chicago Cubs, which means either Jon Lester or Cole Hamels will be on the mound. Either way, Texas will open against a lefty.
Cabrera’s splits are confusing. He’s hit for a higher batting average against southpaws throughout his career; however, he hit for a higher BA against righties in 2018. He is overwhelmingly more powerful against right-handers; 128 of his career 162 home runs have come against them.
To sum it up, Asdrubal Cabrera will likely find a home six or below in the batting order. Though, if he gets off to a hot start, he may trickle towards the top. Regardless, the Rangers have a team player who should make their lineup more well-rounded throughout the upcoming season.