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March 04, 2008

Melky Cabrera The RBI Maker?

Pride of the Yankees wonders today if Melky Cabrera is an RBI machine in the making. Related, I went over to the Baseball Musings Day By Day Database to see where Melky ranked in terms of RBI Percentage last season. To see the full list, via Baseball Musings, click here. Snipping some of the data from the results, you can see where Melky sits compared to some other "RBI" guys:

Player	    Runners On	RBI	HR	RBI% 
David Wright	428	107	30	17.99
Ryan Howard	501	136	47	17.76
David Ortiz	463	117	35	17.71
Bobby Abreu	501	101	16	16.97
Chipper Jones	435	102	29	16.78
Troy Tulowitzki	461	99	24	16.27
Manny Ramirez	418	88	20	16.27
Hideki Matsui	483	103	25	16.15
Albert Pujols	440	103	32	16.14
Todd Helton	461	91	17	16.05
Ryan Zimmerman	422	91	24	15.88
Melky Cabrera	410	73	8	15.85
Adrian Gonzalez	442	100	30	15.84
Kevin Youkilis	425	83	16	15.76
Robinson Cano	498	97	19	15.66
Jorge Posada	452	90	20	15.49
Ken Griffey Jr.	413	93	30	15.25
Derek Jeter	424	73	12	14.39
Paul Konerko	421	90	31	14.01
Jason Varitek	413	68	17	12.35

As you can see, in 2007, Melky Cabrera held his own, pretty well, in the RBI Percentage department - despite a lack of power.

Next, I went over to Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index feature and asked it to show me all PA (for the Yankees) last season that came in a game from the 7th inning on - with runners on base, and, to show me all RBI (for the Yankees) last season that came in a game from the 7th inning on. Combining the results from the two reports enabled me to make the following table - that I'm calling "Yankees RBI rate, 2007, Late In Game Situations":

Alex Rodriguez	101	42	0.416
Derek Jeter	89	25	0.281
Melky Cabrera	94	26	0.277
Hideki Matsui	104	28	0.269
Robinson Cano	110	28	0.255
Bobby Abreu	114	28	0.246
Jorge Posada	108	26	0.241
Johnny Damon	84	14	0.167

Once again, Melky's got nothing to be embarrassed about here.

Back in June of 2006, Joe Torre said, about Cabrera: "He likes to be the one that you're counting on."

These numbers suggest that Torre was right on that one. The Melk-man delivers.

Posted by WW Staff at March 4, 2008 12:07 PM


What's interesting about the first list is that, even though Melky has the lowest PA's of anyone on the list, it's not so low to think that it's a sample size issue. It's enough to make you wonder if Melky has a future as a #2 hitter in this lineup. At RLYW, SG has Melky as about an average baserunner, which could conceivably get better given his age (or at least stay the same.) Interesting.

The same can be said about the second list - he's middle of the pack with PA's. Normalizing it to the Yankees regulars instead of the rest of the league probably makes more sense, and it shows again that this stat is not a fluke. If Melky could add some power and get that SLG closer to .500 than to .400, he'd really be something special, I think. Young, cheap, above average defense with an elite arm, switch hitter.

Posted by: j [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2008 01:55 PM

If Melky can get his SLG close to .500, he can play RF, a position that would enable him to be elite defensively, something he can't be in CF because he lacks high end speed.

Posted by: Rich [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2008 02:01 PM

How could A-Rod not be on that first list?

Posted by: #15 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2008 02:59 PM

Rich...I'm not sure that is true...I checked the range factor per 9 innings for every full time CF last year in the Majors and Melky had the third highest.

Crisp 3.07
Granderson 3.04
Melky 3.02

The league average is 2.71.

So this would suggest that Melky is making more plays in the CF than almost all the other CFs in the league.

He does get a little bump because of all his assists, so if you just factor in Put Outs than he is still at 2.90 which is still above league average and the average would go down if you took out everyone's Put Outs.

Posted by: antone [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2008 03:05 PM

Sorry I meant if you took out everyone's assists the league average would go down.

Posted by: antone [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2008 03:07 PM

"How could A-Rod not be on that first list?"

That first list is just a bunch of players with Melky - it's not the whole list. Follow the link to see the whole list.

Posted by: WW Staff [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2008 03:46 PM

A lot of folk like to find ways of getting him out of the line-up.
But I really like him there because he is one of those players on good teams that is a glue guy. His enthusiasm seems to be contageous. Its rare for such a young player to be so cool and calm while playing such an important position for such a storied team.

Posted by: Bradley [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2008 04:24 PM