Top Ten Most Valuable Mets of 2016: Asdrubal Cabrera

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The New York Mets finished 2016 with a record of 87-75 and lost in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The 2016 season saw the Mets make their ninth playoff appearance in franchise history. The team received valuable contributions from various players over the course of the season. Last Word On Baseball writer John Jackson will count down the top ten most valuable Mets on a weekly basis. He will also analyze the value they brought to the team this past season. Number 10 was Steven Matz, number nine was Neil Walker, number eight was Jacob deGrom, number seven was Curtis Granderson, and number six is Asdrubal Cabrera.

Top Ten Most Valuable Mets of 2016

6. Asdrubal Cabrera

Cabrera joined the Mets after signing a two-year, $18.5 million contract in the off-season. It seemed a little confusing at first for the Mets to be using their limited money on a shortstop that put up similar offensive numbers as Wilmer Flores did in 2015. Still, Cabrera was a defensive upgrade to Flores and overall a player worth signing according to General Manager Sandy Alderson. In the end it seemed to work out as he was one of the most valuable hitters that the Mets had in 2016.

Season Recap

April-July

Cabrera didn’t have much of an interesting storyline for the season compared to the other hitters on this list. He didn’t have a record-tying April like Walker. He wasn’t moved around the batting order and the field throughout the whole season like Granderson. Instead what Cabrera brought was a level of true consistency.

In April he hit in 16 out of the 22 games. He only had one home run, but did drive in seven runs. He ended with a slash line of .300/.364/.400

In May his contact went down and his power went slightly up. He hit .257/.304/.390 which included hits in 20 out of 29 games. This month he had three home runs and 11 RBI.

Cabrera’s production in June followed this trend. He hit in a decent amount of games again with 19 hits in 27 games. However, he had two less multi-hit games which helped give him a lower batting average at .228. Also he had four home runs in this month and six doubles which was one more of each than the prior month. He did go down in RBI as he only had six compared to 11 in May. Overall, June was perhaps Cabrera’s worst month, and for his worst month, it wasn’t too bad.

There was no real trend in July for Cabrera. He hit .241/.272/.448 with five home runs and nine RBI in 23 games and 87 at bats. It was nothing special, but like June it wasn’t too bad.

August-October

After only missing four games from April until July, Cabrera missed the first 17 games of August due to a strained left patella tendon. Not only did the Mets miss one of their best hitters, but it happened at a bad time. The Mets were 54-50 and 6.5 games back from first place in the National League East going into August, and by the time Cabrera was healthy, the Mets were 60-61 and 11.5 games back from first. Luckily he came back with a bang as he collected 17 hits, four doubles, four home runs, and 11 RBI in 12 games and 42 at bats. That was good for a .405/.435/.786 slash line for the month.

This hot streak continued into September as he had 17 runs, 32 hits, seven doubles, one triple, six home runs, 17 RBI, and three stolen bases. For Cabrera, every one of those stats were the highest of any month in 2016.

October only included two regular season games for the Mets and the Wild Card game. In the two games, he had a run batted in and two hits in five at bats. In the Wild Card game, he was one of four players on the Mets with a hit and one of two players with a walk.

Analysis

Cabrera’s final line for the season was .280/.336/.474. He also had 65 runs scored, 146 hits, 30 doubles, one triple, 23 home runs, 62 RBI, 38 walks, and five stolen bases in 141 games played and 521 at bats.

On another team Cabrera’s production may not make a list like this. On the Mets however, Cabrera was definitely valuable. Not only was his offense among the best of Mets hitters, but so was his defense.

The Mets haven’t had a great defensive team in a while. Last year’s middle infielders of Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada, and Flores were not spectacular. What Cabrera and Walker did to the middle infield in regards to defense was a huge improvement from years past.

Also Cabrera injected some life into the dugout. Jose Reyes and Cabrera put on a show with their theatrics including bleaching their hair blonde. Possibly the most theatrical moment of them all from Cabrera in 2016 was his bat flip after hitting a walk-off home run.

From the time he came off the disabled list (August 19) to that game with the walk-off home run (September 22), Cabrera helped lead the team. The Mets were 21-11 during that stretch and both him and Reyes combined for 48 of the team’s 147 runs.

And while it was impressive that Granderson’s longest hitless streak was five games, Cabrera did him one better with his longest being only three games.

Why He Deserves Sixth on This List

After deciding that Granderson deserved seventh, it was only natural to give Cabrera a spot next to him. Both these players were among the best and most consistent hitters for Mets in 2016. Both were in the top three for games played, at bats, hits, doubles, stolen bases, home runs, RBI, and runs scored. Overall they gave similar offensive production.

Defensively speaking, both did better than expected as well. Cabrera had his best fielding percentage (.986) at shortstop in his career aside from 2007 where he only played seven games at shortstop. Granderson had his best fielding percentage (1.000) since 2013. Both had similar defensive Wins Above Replacement as Cabrera’s was -.01 and Granderson’s was -.02. While neither were defensive studs, they both exceeded expectations similarly.

The harder part was deciding which spot next to Granderson that Cabrera deserved: eighth or sixth. Ultimately the choice to place him at sixth was made.

Granderson statistically led Cabrera in runs by 23, triples by four, home runs by seven, and walks by 36. Cabrera led Granderson in hits by 17, doubles by six, RBI by three, and stolen bases by one.

Right now Granderson looks better, but once you recognize the difference in slash lines, the scale shifts. Granderson put up .237/.335/.464/.799 slash line. Cabrera, on the other hand, put up a .280/.336/.474/.810 slash line. So even though Granderson had seven more home runs and 36 more walks, Cabrera got on base more and had more power.

In last week’s article, Granderson’s slash line wasn’t a big difference maker when being compared to Walker’s. That was because there was a difference of 37 games and 133 at bats. There is only a nine-game and 24-at bat difference between Granderson and Cabrera which is much lower.

Even though Wins Above Replacement (WAR) wasn’t necessarily factored in for this list, it helps prove the point. Cabrera had a 2.7 WAR and Granderson had a 2.5 WAR. That justifies the choice for the two to be placed next to each other in this order on a list such as this one.

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