With the 2013 season quickly approaching, many of you will soon find yourselves partaking in the yearly ritual of analyzing player projections and drafting your fantasy squads. After all, when the end goal is humiliating your friends and securing bragging rights for months on end devouring as much information as humanly possible is essential. The other issue is deciding on where fan loyalties begin and where they end. Lou Marson may be your favorite Indian for reasons only you can begin to comprehend, but would you draft him in the first round? Absolutely not.
But, for other players on the Indians’ roster these decisions may become a little more difficult. Well, I’m here to help. Starting today, I’m going to provide you with a series of fantasy forecasts for some of the most sought-after Indians in the fantasy baseball world. These forecasts will have nothing to do with how they will help the Indians on the field, but rather, how they can help you turn your best friends into enemies.
- Player: Asdrubal Cabrera
- Eligible Position(s): Shortstop
- Average Position Rank: #9
- Projected Draft Position: 5th or 6th round
- Projected Auction Value: $14
Asdrubal Cabrera is an interesting player in terms of fantasy value. Search his name on any number of fantasy websites and you can find him ranked among shortstops as high as #4 and as low as #15. He’s polarizing in the fantasy realm in the same way he is among Indians fans.
The real issue with Cabrera’s fantasy value revolves around his power numbers. Is Cabrera the 25 homer, 92 RBI middle-of-the-order threat from 2011 or is he the 16 homer, 68 RBI underachiever from 2012? Most projections, particularly Bill James‘, believe Cabrera to be closer to the 2012 version.
However, most fantasy novices will look at Cabrera’s monster 2011 season as the norm and not the anomaly that it was. They will see the potential for 25 home runs and 100 RBI and reach for Cabrera in earlier rounds of the draft. It also doesn’t help that Cabrera is seen as a premier middle of the order power bat at a position that has become weakened offensively in recent years. Some fantasy owners may be willing to pay a premium for Cabrera’s home run and RBI potential.
Cabrera is projected to be drafted in standard format snake drafts somewhere in the sixth or seventh round in 10-team leagues. However, because of the aforementioned drop off in power production from the shortstop position after Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez come off the board, team owners are likely to turn their sights towards the likes of Cabrera, Ben Zobrist, Starlin Castro, or Ian Desmond. All of them are upper-tier offensive shortstops, but the overall lack of depth may cause these players to go higher than projected and thus missing out on better players at other positions. For Cabrera this could result in going possibly as early as the third or even fourth round, especially in deeper leagues.
The Cabrera conundrum becomes even more intriguing in an auction format draft. As of now, Cabrera’s dollar value falls somewhere in the teen range and averages out around $14. Again however, in deeper leagues where offensive options at shortstop can be snatched up quickly, it’s conceivable that Cabrera’s dollar value could settle in the mid-to-upper $20 range in some drafts.
So do you go all in on Asdrubal Cabrera early or do you sit back and hope he falls to you later in the draft, risking the chance you may lose out?
Cabrera is a solid player from a fantasy perspective. For his career, his numbers typically fall within a range that not only makes him a reliable option, but also allows for a potential for huge returns. He’s a career .270 hitter who will more than likely deliver with just under 20 homers and close to 70 RBI so long as he stays healthy. His ability to get on base drive the ball with power has given him above-average OPS numbers from the shortstop position.
In a head-to-head league Cabrera is a potential must-have as he can help build a comfortable cushion for counting stats such as hits, home runs, and RBI on a weekly basis. However, in a roto league, where his cold spells can be a bit more damaging, Cabrera is slightly less appealing. Since a solid all-around team is the primary goal, players such as Castro, Alcides Escobar, or even Elvis Andrus may be more appealing for their base-stealing ability and leaving the home runs and RBI for more traditional positions such as first and third base or outfield.
Ultimately, the decision of where and when to draft Cabrera needs to be based on your prior selections and who will be available in the later rounds. Cabrera is a solid player who can produce decent power numbers, but not on par with higher some rated shortstops, and doesn’t do enough of the other things—particularly stealing bases—well enough to make him a must-have. In a way, he is more of a luxury than a necessity.
Adding to the uncertainty with Cabrera are his conditioning habits and the history of nagging injuries he routinely encounters throughout the year. Another point of contention this season will certainly be trade rumors as the Indians prepare to transition into the Francisco Lindor era in the coming years. Will Cabrera allow these to hinder his play? It’s possible and therefore Cabrera should not be considered before the fifth round or for a max value of $18 in any league.