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Fantasy Baseball Advice: The Search for True Value

Good pitching stops good hitting. The breaks tend to even out. Ninety percent of baseball is half mental.

Those three sentences represent three baseball-related category quotes; the first is generally true, since the very best major league hitters fail to get a base hit seven out of every ten times they go to the plate or do not reach base six out of ten, giving any random major league pitcher an advantage over any random major league hitter. Even the great Ted Williams had a lifetime OBP (.482) of under 500. The second sentence, though perceived to be true, has no mathematical basis since any outcome is independent of any other outcome. The third and final sentence, of course, is one of the many quotes attributed to the late great Yogi Berra (also known as “Yogiism’s”).

[the_ad id=”693″]Another quote attributed to baseball (and all sports) and though not quite “Nuke LaLoosh (from Bull Durham) worthy” is: Some players must be seen on a regular basis to appreciate how good they really are. In other words, some players are vastly underrated and, for the most part by extension, undervalued in Fantasy Sports terms. New York Mets shortstop, Asdrubal Cabrera, falls into this category. Before I delve into the evidence to back this claim, a little (and painful to Mets fans) recent history is needed.

Whoever is reading this most likely remembers how the top of the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series unfolded, with the Royals basically “stealing a run” by taking advantage of the weak Mets infield defense to tie the game at 2-2. What gets lost when revisiting that play was the ball hit by Salvador Perez which Mets 3B David Wright fielded and threw him out on, and ended with 1B Lucas Duda throwing wild to home plate, allowing Eric Hosmer to score the tying run, was hit right to Mets SS Wilmer Flores and Wright literally was in front of Flores when he fielded the ground ball. Had Wright let the ball go, and not even moved off third base, the ball most likely would have been fielded by Flores, who could have either looked Hosmer back to third base and held him there, or, if Wright moved too far off the base, allowing Hosmer to get a bigger lead, started a run down play; either way the tying run probably would not have scored, at least on that play.

Regardless of the outcome of that play, the Mets, despite Flores playing a nearly flawless shortstop during the 2015 post season, did not trust Flores enough to make him their regular everyday shortstop and signed Cabrera to a two year 18 million dollar free agent contract, making Cabrera basically a “placeholder” at shortstop until their best non-pitching prospect, Amed Rosario, becomes ready to assume the position. Many Mets followers, myself included, thought the signing was foolish and unnecessary; “the book” on Cabrera was that he had limited range defensively but would catch everything hit to him and not worthy of that 18 million contract. However, after watching Cabrera play in 2016, it became apparent that his range was still above average, plus he provided extraordinary home run power, hitting a career high 23 dingers, despite missing several weeks on the DL and playing most of the season on a balky right knee. Also, Cabrera proved to be a team leader and mentor to many of the young Latino Mets players, including Flores, the player he replaced in the lineup. The signing of Cabrera by the Mets proved to be one of their better free agent acquisitions.

[the_ad id=”567″]An underrated player is not necessarily an undervalued fantasy player (Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is probably the best example), but Cabrera is underrated AND UNDERVALUED, based on the fact that he is ranked  273rd overall and as the 25th best shortstop by the best online Fantasy Sports Site: Fantrax. Unproven shortstops such as Kehel Marte and Tim Anderson are ranked ahead of Cabrera by them, and the two Fantasy magazines I purchased to assist me for my upcoming fantasy baseball draft, also put Marte and Anderson ahead of Cabrera. The main reason those two players are ranked above Cabrera is for their stolen bases potential, and I do not in any way, dismiss the stolen base statistic in fantasy because it is a stand alone stat. However, I am not ready to, based on only one category, rank two unproven players, both having shown holes in their games in other areas in the little time they have been in the majors, ahead of Cabrera. If or when my turn comes up to draft and I need a middle infielder (probably somewhere at a round in the low twenties), and the choices are those three players, I am taking Cabrera; no questions asked.  The only possible change in my thinking would be if I was playing in a “dynasty league” but in one-year leagues and even the keeper leagues (where you can protect up to twelve players) this is a “no brainer”.

In closing I will say that when picking a fantasy sports team, it is like buying a car, a home, an appliance for the home, or some sexy lingerie for that special someone: VALUE, and if you choose Cabrera as your fantasy middle infielder, you will get excellent “bang for your buck”. No matter how you choose your team, remember this is recreational fun, and (again in the words of Mr. LaLoosh) sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it rains.

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