Yankees have a big decision to make with Oswaldo Cabrera

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Apr 5, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Oswaldo Cabrera (95) against the Philadelphia Phillies during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are affording their young players ample opportunity to develop their skills. Star prospect Anthony Volpe has already made a strong offensive showing, demonstrating the exciting potential fans had hoped for early in his career.

The 22-year-old is batting .230 with a .336 OBP, three home runs, nine RBIs, and 10 stolen bases. His strikeout rate is gradually decreasing, currently at 28.4%, but he is walking at a 13.8% rate, accumulating a 103 wRC+.

Oswald Peraza has also made an impact offensively, albeit with a smaller sample size. He has achieved a .316 OBP, striking out at a mere 15.8% rate and walking at 8%. He is still transitioning to the MLB after a strong performance in 2022, but his teammate Oswaldo Cabrera has faced more severe offensive challenges.

The Yankees need to keep an eye on Oswaldo Cabrera’s numbers:

Entering the 2023 season, the Yankees expected Cabrera to serve as their primary left fielder and versatile utility option. With numerous injuries, they urgently needed his defensive prowess in the outfield, but his performance at the plate has been questionable.

After batting .247 with a .312 OBP in 44 MLB games last year, he has recorded only a .198 average with a .229 OBP in 27 games and 97 plate appearances at the start of the 2023 season. His 34 wRC+ indicates he is well below the average player, with a -0.4 WAR as well.

Ultimately, the Yankees can tolerate average offensive numbers given his elite defensive capabilities, but they are falling far short of that, and it has become somewhat problematic.

If the Bombers had more depth in the outfield, a strong case could be made for Cabrera to be demoted to Triple-A to further hone his offensive skills. At times, he has been overly aggressive, swinging wildly, and lacking a clear strategy. He has reached base twice in his last four games and accumulated only two hits in his past six games combined.

Regrettably, the Bombers require him in the lineup daily, creating a gap in the batting order. Examining his hitting statistics, he has registered a 37.8% hard-hit rate, a 5.4% barrel rate, and an average exit velocity of 89.2 mph. While his exit velocity has increased significantly from last year, his launch angle is only 14.2°, compared to 21.5° in the previous season, which may explain his regression in home run numbers. Defensively, he has recorded two defensive runs saved this season across 201 innings, in contrast to nine defensive runs saved over 278.2 innings last year.

Regardless of how one views the situation, Cabrera’s worsening performance with the bat was not anticipated heading into the season. Manager Aaron Boone remains highly confident in his abilities, and no changes are expected soon. However, if Cabrera continues to struggle at this rate, the Yankees may find themselves cornered.

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