The Padres, Everth Cabrera’s Return, and Michael Pina’s Guest Post


Cabrera will hopefully return this week Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

As many of you know by now, the Friars could have Everth Cabrera back in their lineup by the end of this week.  San Diego has sorely missed their starting shortstop, particularly at the top of their lineup and on the base-paths.  Yesterday I wrote a post on the subject of how the Padres have struggled without Cabrera (as well as other starting infielders Yonder Alonso and Jedd Gyorko) being able to contribute over the course of this month.

I for one am excited to see Cabrera return to the team, and San Diego’s stagnant offense could definitely use their speedy “table-setter” back in the leadoff spot.  Cabrera’s worth to his team is not only evident to us Friars fans, but Michael Pina of ESPN’s TrueHoop Network and the website ScoreBig.

Despite the fact that he focuses more on basketball, Pina approached me with a solid and detailed post on the subject of Cabrera and what his return could mean to the Padres as they enter the dog-days of summer.  So today I thought that I would include Pina’s post for you Friars fans to take a look at:

The value in having a dominant base-stealer at the top of your lineup is prodigiously underrated.

It’s a player who, once on base, trickles a domino effect of subtle havoc. Speed and timing are a dangerous duo for any pitcher once someone uber-fast gets on base. With the ball on the mound, the pitcher is now worried about more than the hitter, and it limits the pitches he can throw. A curveball can now only come in certain situations, for fear of its comparatively slow journey to the plate allowing the man on first to waltz his way to second.

And the hitter knows all this too. In a game full of moments that are mostly won before the ball is hurled towards home plate, he stands there with a more accurate read on what pitches he has the probability of seeing. That’s an unquantifiable yet significant difference all thanks to the mere threat of someone stealing second base. (Forget about actually stealing the base, and putting yourself in scoring position for the rest of an inning.)

When everybody in the stadium knows a bloop single could effectively become a double at some point in the next at bat, the inning’s entire dynamic changes; stealing bases is about so much more than covering 90 feet in a dead sprint.

This brings us to 26-year-old San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, who led the National League with 44 steals last season— which was also third in all of baseball. He’s followed that up with more brilliance this year, to date stealing 31 bases which puts him at first in the National League and second in all of baseball.

In 2012 his batting splits were .246/.324/.324. Before he went on the DL with his hamstring issue, Cabrera’s splits this season were .305/.382/.418. He registered 43 walks all last season and is already at 32, through 69 games.

He’s also been great with his plate discipline. Cabrera’s strikeout percentage has so far been a vast improvement from last year, going from 24.5% in 2012 (for the record, striking out at least once a game, on average, isn’t something you want your leadoff hitter doing) to 16.4% so far this season (by contrast, a comparable base-stealer like Jacoby Ellsbury boasts a career strikeout percentage of 12.4%).

It’s no coincidence that with Cabrera striking out much less, his batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage are dramatically higher than last season, as well.

Cabera’s also improving on the defensive end. With a glove in his hand as San Diego’s starting shortstop, Cabrera’s improvement is unquestionable. After leading the National League with 23 errors as a 22-year-old rookie in 2009, Cabrera is currently third in fielding percentage (.988) among all shortstops in the National League, is fourth in Total Zone Runs—according to baseball-reference—and holds the fifth most assists out of all positional players.

His value on the base paths is an obvious and growing phenomenon. But Everth Cabrera’s overall game has the Padres in possession of a bona fide star.

Michael Pina is a writer for ESPN’s TrueHoop Network. He also writes for ScoreBig. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelVPina.

Readers: Do you agree with Pina’s take?  Will Cabrera’s return instantly spark the Friars’ lineup?  Share below.

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