Why the Yankees could end up sitting Oswaldo Cabrera in the playoffs

Alexander Wilson
oswaldo cabrera, yankees
Sep 24, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Oswaldo Cabrera (95) celebrates after hitting a two run home run in the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have been getting exponential value out of rookie outfielder Oswaldo Cabrera, despite having never played in the OF at the minor-league level.

Traditionally, Cabrera is a second baseman, but he’s seamlessly transitioned to the outfield, providing elite defensive metrics. In fact, across 223 innings in the OF, Cabrera has a perfect fielding percentage and nine defensive runs saved above average.

Right now, it feels impossible to take him out of the lineup, especially since he’s picked up the slack offensively as of late. On the season, he features a .233 average with a 30.1% on-base rate, including four homers, 17 RBIs, and two stolen bases. He has struck out at 27.1%, but he’s also walking at a 9% clip.

In the month of September, Cabrera is hitting .232 with a 31.6% on-base rate and a .464 slugging percentage. He’s played an integral part in the Yankees’ current seven-game winning streak. Over his last seven days, Cabrera is hitting .263 with a 36.4% on-base rate, 1.048 OPS, with two homers and seven RBIs.

Despite these incredible metrics, a report indicated that if Andrew Benintendi can return from his wrist injury, Cabrera could end up losing a spot on the playoff roster.

As for Benintendi (hamate), he likely would get his left field job back if he can return. Yet, Cabrera is making a play at being a version of Ricky Ledee/Shane Spencer in 1998 — a rookie who came along to play left on a stacked team.

Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post

The Yankees should stick with the momentum and health:

Realistically, Benintendi isn’t going to be fully healthy the rest of the season, meaning they will have to settle for a degraded version of the 28-year-old outfielder. Benintendi hit .320 with a 38.7% on-base rate with Kansas City across 93 games but hit just .254 with a 33% on-base rate with the Yankees across 33 games.

Seeing Benintendi’s regression certainly didn’t motivate the Yankees, especially since Cabrera has performed so well this month. However, he was playing a lot better toward the end of August prior to the injury.

The question is, can the Yankees trust him in the playoffs, having not ramped up and likely dealing with a less than 100% wrist? Cabrera seems like the obvious option, especially since they view him as a long-term solution, whereas Benintendi will be a free agent after the 2022 season concludes.