Why the Yankees need to keep playing Oswaldo Cabrera at all costs

Ryan Garcia
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

Oswaldo Cabrera continues to impress every night, and with his bat coming together, he’s shown the Yankees it’s not a matter of if he should play but a matter of where he should play. He’s played every position besides centerfield and catcher, and with his hot month of September raising his stats above league average, there’s a heavy incentive to keep playing him.

Oswaldo Cabrera is one of the more electric players on the team, and with the way, he’s hit, he further deepens the lineup and allows the Yankees always to have a platoon advantage with Cabrera’s switch-hitting abilities. The Yankees are 24-14 since calling up Oswaldo Cabrera (102 win pace), and he’s played himself into being one of their most relied upon position players come October.

Versatility will keep Oswaldo Cabrera in the Yankees lineup:

We all know about Oswaldo Cabrera’s excellence in the outfield. With a combined 7 DRS in the outfield, Cabrera’s one of the best defenders when it comes to patrolling the outfield, and that’s due to his solid range and great arm. He’s still figuring out left field, but as he gets adjusted to the position and gets more attempts on throws, I imagine he’ll handle the position much better. Part of this faith comes in his arm strength, as he makes some incredible throws and has some great velocity on those throws:

  • 91.1 MPH Throw Velocity (38th out of 362)
  • 4 rARM (10th out of 351)
  • 3.3 ARM (17th out of 351)

He’s one of the best defensive options the Yankees have for the corner outfield, but if they get a bat like Andrew Benintendi back, what do they do there? Well, why not give Oswaldo Cabrera the chance to play shortstop if Benintendi is able to return?

Oswaldo Cabrera is able to get to balls that Isiah Kiner-Falefa has displayed the ability to get to, but his arm strength far surpasses IKF’s. His range and arm talent create a situation where Cabrera could consistently be one of the better defensive shortstops in the league, and with some of the tape we have of him at 2B/SS, we can see the defensive IQ is there as well.

This double play is an incredible read and a remarkable display of athleticism and arm talent. He’s able to not only get to 2nd in time but read that he can rip a throw across in time to get Guerrero out, firing a cross-body dart on one leg to turn a vital double play. There’s no shot IKF makes that throw either, as Kiner-Falefa is one of the least-capable throwers at his position. He averages just 81.2 MPH on his throws (40th out of 49 shortstops), and he hasn’t made a throw above 86.0 MPH.

We’ve seen IKF shy away from throws or just not make them because of his arm strength, and with how Cabrera has slung the rock, it makes no sense to keep him at SS if Benintendi returns and Cabrera continues to hit; something that has been a revelation for this lineup.

The Yankees are seeing Oswaldo Cabrera evolve at the plate:

One of the biggest issues with Oswaldo Cabrera when he first came up was just how aggressive he was at the plate. Swing decisions are vital to a player’s path to success, as swinging at hittable pitches means a higher chance of converting those swings into hits, and laying off pitches out of the zone leads to more walks, thus increasing your OBP. In Cabrera’s first 21 games, he ran a BB% of just 5.0% due to a 43.2% O-Swing%. His stats in that time frame were abysmal.

  • .187/.225/.253
  • 34 wRC+
  • .067 ISO
  • 3.6% Barrel%

He was one of the worst everyday hitters in the sport, and that’s because he often swung at bad pitches to swing at. In Cabrera’s last 16 games, he’s running a 31.0% O-Swing% (down 12.2%), and while that’s still slightly worse than league average, it’s been more selective aggressiveness. He’s walking 13.8% of the time, so it seems that he’ll choose when to be aggressive and when to stay passive at the plate. His stats in those 16 games are much better:

  • .316/.409/.614
  • 191 wRC+
  • .298 ISO
  • 10.0% Barrel%

He’s making better swing decisions and is finding greater results because of it, he’s sitting at a 105 wRC+ (5% better than a league average hitter) even in spite of a horrible start to his career. If he’s able to continue this trend at the plate, he’s going to really be a big part of this October push.