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Melky Cabrera: What Can We Expect in 2008

Melky Cabrera is a player that was written off as a 21-year-old in 2005 after an inauspicious debut amidst a Red Sox/Yankees series. He bounced back in 2006 to rpove the naysayers premature and soldified his defensive bona fides in 2007 after replacing Johnny Damon in CF and leading the Yankees resurgence.

That is a good baseball story, but what is he worth to fantasy players. Using the same format as I did to look at Dustin Pedroia, I screened all OF-eligible players for HRs and SBs in the ranges of 6-12 and 9-16, respectively.

Melky's 2007 comparables are an eclectic mix made-up of an expected future star, a failed expected future star, rapidly declining veterans and decent regular starters.

1. Shannon Stewart, Free Agent
2. Mark Teahen, Kansas City Royals
3. Shawn Green, Free Agent
4. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
5. David DeJesus, Kansas City Royals
6. Emil Brown, Oakland A's
7. Chris Burke, Arizona Diamondbacks

One point that stands out to me is the relatively short list of players from each of the past three seasons who were captured in the screens. For whatever reason, I expected there to be more outfielders with high single-digit HR totals and low double-digit SB ones. Unlike middle infielders who don't crack double digit totals in those categories, OF who do appear to have those skills carry over from season-to-season. In the case of Alex Rios, those early demonstrations of skills signaled something even better.

2005 2006 2007
Player HR SB RBI R AVG HR SB RBI R AVG HR SB RBI R AVG
Cameron Mike 12 13 39 47 0.273 22 25 83 88 0.268 21 18 78 88 0.242
Ford Lew 7 13 53 70 0.264 4 9 18 40 0.226 3 3 14 13 0.233
Rios Alex 10 14 59 71 0.262 17 15 82 68 0.302 24 17 85 114 0.297
Taguchi So 8 11 53 45 0.288 2 11 31 46 0.266 3 7 30 48 0.29
Werth Jayson 7 11 43 46 0.234 0 0 0 0 0 8 7 49 43 0.298

2006 qualifiers offer more of the same. Most followed-up their 2006 seasons with similar or better ones in 2007. In the case of Nate McLouth, there was surprisingly pleasant improvement.

2005 2006 2007
Player HR SB RBI R AVG HR SB RBI R AVG HR SB RBI R AVG
Burke Chris 5 11 26 49 0.248 9 11 40 58 0.276 6 9 28 39 0.226
Cabrera Melky 0 0 0 1 0.211 7 12 50 75 0.28 8 13 75 67 0.273
McLouth Nate 5 2 12 20 0.257 7 10 16 50 0.233 13 22 38 62 0.255
Michaels Jason 4 3 31 54 0.305 9 9 55 77 0.267 7 3 39 43 0.27
Rowand Aaron 13 16 69 77 0.27 12 10 47 59 0.262 27 6 90 105 0.31
Winn Randy 20 19 63 85 0.306 11 10 56 82 0.262 14 15 65 73 0.3

When I decided to see how Dustan Pedroia and Melky Cabrera compared, I expected to come down on the side of Pedroia as the more valuable fantasy player. However, I believe that premise has proven incorrect. Cabrera's fantasy skills appear to offer more certainty and more opportunity for improvement relative to those players who are similar based on position eligibility, HR and SB totals.