Sunday, June 2, 2013

Free Agent Fantasy Team: Melky Cabrera's Decline

We are now two months into the regular season, and it is time for the bi-monthly update of my all free agent fantasy team.

Roster Moves: Shawn Camp and Eric Chavez both go on the DL, so placed on the minors/inactive part of roster, as my injuries continue to mount. David Ross goes back on the active part of the roster after being activated. To clear the second spot on the inactive list, I released Matt Downs, who was not hitting at all in the PCL for the Marlins. I was sort of interested in Jon Rauch for the inactive list, as he signed a minor league deal with the Orioles, but couldn't bring myself to clearing a spot for him. I would have ironically added him if he signed a MLB deal, like Ankiel or Gregg.

Since most teams have played about 56 games:

9.7 fWAR, 26.16 wins and 29.84 losses

11.2 rWAR, 27.664 wins and 28.336 losses

9.2 WARP, 27.12 wins and 28.88 losses

.9 WAA, 28.9 wins and 27.1 losses

So after a really slow start, and then a recovery that put me over .500, my team has regressed to a slightly below average team through two months.

In this week's player profile, I wanted to look at Melky Cabrera from 2010-2013.

Cabrera was a below replacement player in 2010 with the Braves and was released after the season. 2011 and 2012 were his big offensive years, playing for the Royals and Giants. He was then suspended for PEDs and signed with the Blue Jays in the off-season. So far this year, he has been a slightly below league average hitter.

Keeping in mind that he is a switch hitter, meaning that he will bat lefty more than righty, here are where pitchers have thrown the ball to him on average broken down by year:

There is no real difference in how he is being pitched as far as average location goes. This probably means that there has not been an obvious flaw in his swing that he either fixed after 2010 or has had exposed in 2013. Here are the average pitches he has swung at, broke down by year, along with his hits (for the purpose of this post, I am only referring to the "In Play, no outs" plays when talking about hits) for each season:

The most significant difference is his hits so far in this season, coming more low and away when he bats left-handed. To further break down each year (and get a look that hopefully tells us more than his the above charts), I will look at his spin and speed charts on hits and whiffs for each year. Here is his 2010 spin and speed chart on pitches he swung and missed at:

Here were the pitcher release points on his whiffs:

Here are the release points he got hits off of in 2010:

Despite always having the platoon advantage, he struggled against low and out righties. He was also more likely to struggle against far out lefties. Here is the spin and speed chart on his hits in 2010:

Curveballs were clearly a huge problem for Cabrera, as the bottom left of the swinging strike spin and speed chart shows. He didn't swing and miss against a 97 MPH + fastball and even hit some, and he seem to get hits about as often as he whiffed on fastballs over 94 MPH. For whatever reason, he didn't seem to do a lot with averagish fastballs, but he ripped up below average fastballs pretty well. He didn't seem to do extremely well against the area you would call changeups, at least from a ration perspective.

What changed in 2011? Here is his speed and spin on whiffs:

Still a lot of curveballs and a lot of hard fastballs, what about the release points on whiffs?

He still seemed to struggle with low and out pitchers. Compare the above chart to the release points he got hits off of:

He had success against low and out righties, but not low and out lefties. It seems like the higher the lefties, the more likely he was going to hit it. The cluster against right-handers was further from the center than the whiff release points, which is what you would expect. Here are the pitch types Cabrera hit in 2011:

 Much better than the year before, Cabrera hit curveballs. He also hit a lot of above average fastballs, along with some changeups as well. Obviously there were more hits in 2011, but there was also a lot more balance when it came to pitch type.

 In 2012, Cabrera would have won the batting title if it weren't for the suspension and the bad publicity. Switching up the order a bit, here are the pitches he hit that season:

Controlling for the difference in volume, they look pretty similar. He hit some curveballs, a few changeups as well, though he didn't seem to excel against plus velocity as well. Here are the release points of the pitchers Cabrera got hits off of in 2012:

Cabrera really excelled against pitchers with tall release points, especially right-handers. Here are the release points he whiffed against that season:

 The tall ones didn't making him whiff, but neither did the short ones, as it seems that he mainly whiffed against relatively normal release points. Here are the actual pitches he missed:

Again, it seems that he didn't handle top notch velocity as well, and he had a lot of whiffs on curveballs. It isn't as pretty as it was in 2011. What about so far in 2013?

The difference in volume makes it hard to compare, so here is the spin and speed on hits so far this season:

He seems to have reverted back to having problems with curveballs, but he seems to be handling what you would normally call sliders well, and it doesn't appear he is having any problems with velocity. Here are the pitchers he has hit so far:

Here are the pitchers he has whiffed against this year:

He seems to be struggling as a right-handed hitter so far, and he is having a lot of problems with low and out release points, points he should never have problems with as a switch hitter, but points he was clearly having problems with earlier in his career. 

He seems to have fallen into a bit of his old habits, struggling against curveballs and funky release points. The bat speed still appears to be there and he can still hit fastballs, it looks like his approach is a bit out of order right now, so it is unlikely to expect a 2011-2012 Cabrera, but it doesn't look like he has actually lost "talent" in way of bat speed, though the power hasn't shown up yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment