The New York Yankees‘ outfield has undoubtedly struggled at the start of the 2023 season. From Aaron Hicks to Oswaldo Cabrera, the team has not seen the offensive production necessary to strengthen the bottom half of the batting order.
Cabrera, in particular, has encountered difficulties in the first 32 games, playing in 28 of them with a .196 batting average and a .227 OBP, resulting in a 32 wRC+. After posting a .247 average, a .312 OBP, and a 111 wRC+ over 44 games in 2022, many expected his numbers to improve. However, his offensive statistics have taken a nosedive, and Cabrera explains why.
“I know that I’m trying to do too much,” the 24-year-old admitted. “And when I try to do too much, I’m hitting the ball into the ground.”
The Yankees need to Oswaldo Cabrera to correct a few things:
Cabrera’s over-aggressiveness has led to ground balls and weak contact. Although his hard-hit rate has increased about 4% to 38.7%, his barrel rate has dropped to 5.3%, and his launch angle has significantly decreased to 13.8° from 21.5° last year.
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Interestingly, Cabrera’s ground ball rate this season is 48.6%, compared to 28.2% in 2022. Nearly 50% of the balls he puts in play are ground balls, which typically result in outs. His flyball rate has fallen 10% to 40.3%, and his 3.4% HR/FB ratio demonstrates a sharp decline in home run efficiency.
Manager Aaron Boone believes Cabrera is close to rediscovering his swing and discipline. Overcoming bad habits can be challenging, but taking a few more pitches could benefit Oswaldo, who currently has a 4.1% walk rate and a 19.4% strikeout rate. By being more selective, he could potentially reduce his strikeout rate and increase his chances of getting on base via walks.
“I don’t think he’s far off,” Boone said this week. “I think with a lot of hitters, but especially with Oswaldo, it’s about the pitches you do get to work with. He’s probably fouled off more than he should.”
Cabrera is viewed as a long-term asset for the Yankees, even if he doesn’t maintain his starting position in left field. He could serve as a super-utility player, filling various positions as needed and providing support during injury crises, a recurring issue for the Yankees.
Oswaldo’s ability to play nearly every infield and outfield position adds significant value to the team. If his offense stabilizes at an average level, the Yankees would possess a fantastic player with exceptional position versatility.
It seems that the management is allowing their young players ample room to develop their skills. While Anthony Volpe has already shown flashes of brilliance and consistency, Cabrera is still working on ironing out some wrinkles in his game.