By Jordan Wevers
August 9, 2013
For my money, an undervalued NL West player in dynasty formats is Everth Cabrera. Literally. I paid $1 for this guy in my auction draft in March. He was an afterthought for most managers who failed to notice he swiped 44 bases in 2012. Other reasons I believe he was overlooked are obvious. He plays his home games at PETCO, a notoriously favorable pitchers park. He bats in a thin line-up, and is yet to record 400 ABs in a season. PED suspension aside, let’s break down Mr. Cabrera a bit.
Before being suspended, he was posting breakout numbers across the board. Everth was leading the National League in steals with 37, hitting above .280 and posting an OBP above .350 hitting out of the leadoff spot the first four months of the season for the Padres. According to baseball-reference.com, the speedster from Nicaragua has a higher WAR rating (2.9) this season than fellow respected and established lead-off men Shin-Soo Choo (2.7), Ian Desmond (2.7), Jayson Heyward (2.3), and Norichika Aoki (2.2).
Even more value in Cabrera comes with his dual eligibility at SS and 2B. He offers consistency and production at two spots on the diamond where there is not a lot of depth. These two positions are the weakest in fantasy baseball. At the end of this week (Aug. 11), only 6 SS are ranked in the top 100 players in fantasy baseball according to Yahoo.com, with 8 2B holding a spot in the top 100. The following skill positions are represented as such in the top 100: 1B (17), 3B (11), and OF (31). Catcher, of course, is usually an exception to look toward for serious production from in fantasy baseball. Buster Posey and Yadier Molina are the only two representing the position in the top 100.
Since 2006, Cabrera has a career .290/.381/.385 slash line in the Minors. He was a strong enough prospect for a MLB team to warrant giving him his first big league at bat at the age of 22. He’s just coming into his prime in the Majors at 26 years of age. Voted a league All-Star in 2013, the PED suspension did set him back a bit in that we still cannot gauge what a full season worth of production will bring fantasy owners on the stat sheet.
Next year, Everth will get a fresh start. He is arbitration eligible beginning in 2014. He will have something to prove given his 50 game suspension, and that his 2013 salary of $1.275 million does not match league standards for a leadoff hitter posting strong numbers in AVG, OPS, R and SB. The health and development of Chase Headley and Yonder Alonso is imperative for Everth Cabrera’s potential to score 100 runs in a season.
Alternatively, perhaps San Diego will treat Everth like the Giants did Melky. They will see him as a liability, someone who may be a repeat offender with PEDs. I do not see this being the case. Everth is not a power hitter. He hits for average, plays with above average speed and is a reliable defender at one of the more challenging positions on the field. The risk does not outweigh the reward for a second offense with a player of his skill set. Best case scenario, the Padres ship him off to a contender where home games are played in a hitter’s park, and he can truly flourish. Either way, if he stays healthy expect at the minimum a .280/.350/.350 slash line in 2014 from Everth, complimented by roughly 10 HR, 90 R and 55 SB.