When you are the lead-off man for an anemic offense, and you aren’t doing what you normally do, people tend to take notice. Over the past couple of seasons, San Diego Padres’ shortstop Everth Cabrera has established himself as one of the elite basestealers in all of baseball. Back in 2012, Cabrera led the National League in stolen bases with 44. A season later, he was well on his way to a second straight stolen base title until he was suspended for his use of performance-enhancing drugs. At the time of his suspension, Cabrera has 37 swipes.
Fast forward to 2014. The Padres are on pace to have their worst offensive output in franchise history. The team has been riddled with injuries to Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, and Chase Headley. And Cabrera isn’t running. At least not as much as San Diego fans and opponents of the Padres have grown accustomed to. So far in 2014, Cabrera has three steals and has been caught just as many times. Why the massive decrease in steals and attempts?
According to Padres’ manager Bud Black, there are two primary reasons. The first, is that opponents are putting forth an extended effort to keep Cabrera at bay on the basepaths. The second, and more important, is that Cabrera has been playing most of the season with a sore right knee, that he injured while playing defense, and limiting his mobility and ability to run wild on the base paths.
He hurt his knee, so that’s been a little bit of a factor of late…Some has been game situation. A lot has been the opposing pitcher really making a statement: ‘We’re gonna do everything we can to inhibit you from running by being really quick to the plate. But I think that, probably more than anything, his knee has been a factor. (h/t Dennis Lin, UT-San Diego)
Luckily for the Friars, the sore knee hasn’t affected Cabrera’s impact with the bat. Through the first 20-plus games, he is hitting over .300, and his BABIP is over .400. Now if the rest of the lineup could follow suit.