For some reason, the media directed most of its attention to the New York Yankees‘ shortstop battle in spring training. Anthony Volpe (1.064 OPS, three home runs, five stolen bases) defeated Oswald Peraza and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to take the job.
However, there are other roster and position battles taking place. Who gets to complete the starting rotation in light of Luis Severino’s lat injury? Who gets the majority of playing time at left field? Those are also important questions that need answers.
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The Yankees still have a big LF decision to make:
The last one, in particular, should be a really important discussion topic in camp. The Yankees implied that Aaron Hicks would get the majority of playing time in left field before spring training, but there might be a more deserving name: Oswaldo Cabrera.
As things stand right now, Cabrera may or may not have a place in the Yankees’ Opening Day lineup. Jose Trevino will be the catcher; Anthony Rizzo and Josh Donaldson will be at first and third, and Volpe and Torres will probably be the double-play combo. Judge will surely play center, and Hicks’ name will likely appear in left field. Giancarlo Stanton or Cabrera will man right field, and there is also DJ LeMahieu.
There are ten names there, so one of them will have to watch from the bench. It shouldn’t be Cabrera.
Oswaldo Cabrera deserves to play much more than Aaron Hicks:
Cabrera could work just fine as the super-utility, but he definitely deserves more playing time than Hicks. The sophomore had an impressive debut last year, with six homers and a 111 wRC+, whereas the declining veteran was at a 90 wRC+ (below the league-average performance) in 2022. He was also at 76 wRC+ in 2021.
Spring training performance also favored Cabrera. He had a .990 OPS with four homers and 13 RBI, and while Hicks wasn’t bad (.746 OPS, one long ball), it’s clear who deserved to get the nod.
It’s unclear if Cabrera’s spring will give him the job or at least most of the left field starts, but the Yankees clearly prioritized spring performance in the shortstop battle, and Volpe changed their initial plans. Cabrera is doing the same, so he deserves equal treatment. A talent like him should be in the lineup every day.