Asdrubal Cabrera is widely thought of as one of the American League‘s best shortstops. But is he really? If we are just talking about this season, I would argue he’s below average. By calling him overrated, I am not saying that he hasn’t been a great player in the past, I’m strictly discussing the 2013 season.
Cabrera’s 0.5 WAR ranks 17th among shortstops. Some of the players listed near him include Pete Kozma (16) and Jayson Nix (18). Cabrera is performing below his career production to this point in the season; his career slash line is .277/.339/.417, and this season it is .254/.311/.434. He has only hit five home runs to this point with 25 RBIs. His 6.3 walk percentage is below his career average, and his 24.1 strikeout percentage is far higher than his career average. Unfortunately for Cabrera, his high strikeout rate and very nice .322 BABIP suggest that he isn’t performing badly due to bad luck, it’s simply bad performance.
Cabrera is even worse on the defensive side. I have a feeling that the majority of baseball fans believe Cabrera is one of the better defensive shortstops because he makes a lot of highlight plays; but this isn’t the case. His -4.2 UZR ranks 25th among all MLB shortstops, and his -15.6 UZR/150 is also 25th. The only two shortstops that are worse defensively are Jed Lowrie of the Oakland Athletics and Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs.
The Cleveland Indians went on a spending spree this past offseason, bringing in Mark Reynolds, Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and Brett Myers; they clearly wanted to win this season. Without Cabrera being productive, I don’t see them contending in a division that should only get better when the Detroit Tigers get hot.