Yankees’ super-utility man is forcing his way onto the starting team

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have won their first two games of the regular season against the Houston Astros, led by superstar slugger Juan Soto. The Yankees’ big off-season acquisition has been nothing short of spectacular, but flying under the radar is the impact of Oswaldo Cabrera, their super-utility man who barely even cracked the roster after a disappointing spring training.

Cabrera, 25, hit .213/.302/.362 this spring, including two homers and three RBIs over 20 games. His 80 wRC+ indicated he was 20% worse than the average hitter, but he’s been excellent to open the season, pushing the Yankees forward at the bottom of the order.

On opening day, Cabrera collected two hits with two runs and a homer, tying the game at 4–4 in the sixth inning. He was a catalyst and helped push the Yankees over the edge to secure a 5–4, but his impact on Friday was even more impressive.

The Yankees Are Seeing the Upside of Oswaldo Cabrera

Cabrera recorded four hits over five appearances, including a double and three RBIs. On the year, he currently hosts a 431 wRC+, including a .667 batting average and .667 OBP. He’s been arguably the team’s best offensive player aside from Soto, and having that value at the bottom of the order has been tremendous.

Cabrera is currently filling in for DJ LeMahieu at third base. He is dealing with a bruised right foot after fouling a ball off just days before the regular season kicked off. The expectation remains that he will return to his starting role once he’s able, but he still has a few more days on the 10-day injured list before he’s eligible to return.

With that being said, Cabrera is forcing his way onto the starting team, and if he continues this stretch, the Yankees will have no reason to move them out of his current role. However, newly acquired veteran Jon Berti may get some reps on Sunday in place of Gleyber Torres, who injured his hand on a hit-by-pitch during Friday’s win.

The infield certainly isn’t what the Yankees thought it would be three games into the season, but Cabrera is stepping up and supplementing LeMahieu’s lost value.

Berti posted his highest batting average, at .294, last season, so he’s in line to make an offensive impact if the Yankees call his name. Houston will feature Hunter Brown on the mound Saturday night, and the 25-year-old is coming off a down year in 2023. He posted a 5.09 ERA but was excellent during spring training over 17 innings, logging a 2.12 ERA. The right-handed starter will allow Cabrera to hit lefty, the spot where he produced most of his damage over the first few days of the regular season.

Nonetheless, Cabrera’s newfound offensive production has been perfectly timed for a Yankee team that is already showing signs of resiliency and grit, having to come back twice from deficits to start the season.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: