Originally posted on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 3/31/13
Miguel Cabrera is a 10-year veteran. That’s really of no real fantasy significance, other than the fact that it places the soon-to-be 30-year-old third baseman smack dab in the middle of his power prime, but it serves as a sobering reference point for how quickly life moves. Cabrera’s rookies season came in the same year as the infamous Aaron “Bleeping” Boone ALCS Game 7 homer in 2003. That seems like just yesterday.Last season Cabrera was the AL MVP and the first Triple Crown winner in a generation. His 44 homers were six more than his previous career high, and his 139 RBI were also a career high.What’s interesting about last season is how Cabrera arrived at those numbers. In 2010 and 2011 Cabrera walked 13.7% and 15.7% of the time, respectively, but last year his walk rate was just 9.5%. Despite totaling just nine more plate appearances than in 2011, Cabrera’s decreased walk rate led to 50 more at-bats. That’s 50 extra chances to blast homers or drive runners home.Posting a career-best 23.0% HR/FB rate doesn’t hurt either. For the most part Cabrera had been consistently around 19%, so the extra at-bats and increased HR/FB rate led to his first 40-homer season.What’s really amazing about Cabrera, though, is how consistent he is at the plate. He never tries to do too much, never really tries to pile on the homers, and never really presses in any situation. He sees the ball, puts a great swing on it, and the numbers just pile up.Unlike players in who press for a particular stat, like guys in contract years consciously trying to hit more homers (see: Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn), Cabrera never changes his approach. Plain and simple, he’s the best hitter in baseball (unless you ask a Cincinnati fan, who will argue Joey Votto holds that title).At a GlanceStrengths: R, HR, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, OPSNeutral: noneWeaknesses: SBPlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: Triple Crown repeatLikely scenario: Joey Votto (CIN), Prince Fielder (DET), Robinson Cano (NYY)Worst-case scenario: honestly, those likely scenarios are probably worst-case scenariosMiguel Cabrera 2013 Fantasy ProjectionI’d project Cabrera’s walk rate to rise a little (thus fewer at-bats) and his HR/FB rate to fall a little, and that should combine to yield his usual mid-30s homer season. He’s a .330 hitter every year, and there’s no reason to expect anything different this season.But as great as Cabrera is in four of the five fantasy categories, he’s useless in steals. That means he just can’t be the best overall player. It should be noted, though, that doesn’t mean you can’t take him first overall. In roto leagues in particular, you can draft steals-only players like Juan Pierre to balance out Cabrera, and Cabrera’s strengths everywhere else are so well-fortified that it just might be worth grabbing him at number one and penciling in .330/35/120 with 100 runs.In a head-to-head league I’m going Trout because I prefer balanced players who can do it all, but in roto you might be able to talk me into Cabrera.
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