Asdrubal Comes of Age

It seems like Asdrubal Cabrera has been around forever.  Most people are surprised when you tell them how old he is. 

Since he was here when the Indians last won the division in 2007, he is put in the same class as guys like Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner, who will be 29 and 34 respectively this season.

However, he is just 25 years old and should be improving, which through the first quarter of the season, he most certainly is. 

He put an exclamation point on his season to date with a 5 for 5 game in the series finale against Cincinnati, with two home runs and five RBI’s.

He came up to the Indians during their drive to a 2007 AL Central Division title at age 21, and contributed mightily, hitting .283 with 3 HR and 22 RBI (775 OPS) in 45 games.

He was 10 for 46 in the post-season with a homer and 6 RBI’s.

He reportedly came to spring training a little out of shape in 2008, and his number slipped to .259, 6 HR and 47 RBI (713 OPS) in his first full season in the big leagues.

The following year, you could make the argument (and we have) that Asdrubal Cabrera was the best shortstop in the American League not named Derek Jeter. 

He batted .308 with 6 HR and 68 RBI with a 799 OPS.  He had 52 extra base hits, including 42 doubles at age 23.

It certainly looked like the Tribe had a potential star on their hands. 

Then came the collision.  Cabrera broke his arm in a bizarre collision with 3B Jhonny Peralta on an infield shift in Tampa.  Cabrera returned shortly after the all-star break, but wasn’t the same player, batting .276, but had just a 673 OPS because he couldn’t drive the ball consistently.

This year, Asdrubal Cabrera is healthy and is showing everyone that he just may be the AL’s best shortstop now that Jeter is starting to show some age.

He took some advice from veteran Orlando Cabrera, who told his younger teammate that he should be driving the ball from time to time. 

ACab is not an Omar Vizquel type of shortstop.  He’s listed a 6’0″ and 180 pounds, and is probably a little bigger than that now that he is older.

His 42 doubles in 2009 show that he indeed has some pop in his bat, and getting stronger would result in some of those double turning into home runs. 

That’s what is happening now. 

In 44 games thus far in 2011, Cabrera has belted a team-leading nine home runs with 32 RBI’s and an OPS of 822.  The RBI total puts him 5th in the junior circuit.

If the Cleveland Indians continue to stay in first place and make the post-season, there is no question Cabrera will be in the conversation for the league’s MVP award.  He’s having that kind of year.

For all of the love the media gives Shin-Soo Choo, and deservedly so, Cabrera could wind up being better in the long run, because he’s so good at this age.

Cabrera is very good in the #2 hole in the batting order right now, but could end up hitting lower in the order as he matures.  It’s not a stretch for him to wind up as a guy who can hit 25 homers in a season.

If the Indians pull this off in 2011 and win the division, it’s would be easy to point to the great performance thus far of the pitching staff.  However, they have a very good young core of everyday players like Cabrera, Choo, Carlos Santana, and Michael Brantley.

And don’t forget players to come like Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis.

Yesterday, Asdrubal Cabrera showed everyone he is an all-star.  At 25 years old, it could be the first of many appearances.

KM

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