Morning Coffee with Mark Whelan: Everth Cabrera and the 3-Legged Dog


Jun 6, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera (2) catches a line drive in the 1st inning during the game against the Washington Nationals at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Stan Liu-USA TODAY Sports

I saw this sentence in Gammons Daily Wednesday: [Xander] Bogaerts posted a .426 OPS last month, last among AL hitters logging at least 80 plate appearances and second-worst in the majors behind San Diego’s Everth Cabrera (.344).

Xander Bogaerts is the Red Sox shortstop. You remember him, last year’s late-season call-up who had some big hits in the postseason. He was a preseason favorite to win Rookie of the Year in the AL this year. Bogaerts excelled in the minors, with a .373 on-base percentage, and a .489 slugging average. His April and May this year were terrific. But he fell apart in June, hitting a ghastly .135. He had only 13 hits all month, and walked only three times. This was after getting 34 hits in May, including 12 for extra bases, and drawing 12 walks. His OBP alone in May was.407, and his SLG .490. Lotta doubles. Bogaerts is a good hitter, a very talented 21-year old. His OPS dropped from .897 in May to .426 in June. That’s a huge dropoff, but he’s a kid, and he’s bound to have some growing pain as he starts learning about AL pitchers.

This article is not about him.

Because as bad as Bogaerts was in June – and he was terrible, make no mistake about it – he was better than Everth Cabrera.

Bogaerts had 13 hits. Cabrera 12.

Bogaerts hit .135. Cabrera hit .133.

Bogaerts hit two doubles and three homers. Cabrera had a double. Eleven singles and a double.

Bogaerts scored 9 runs to Cabrera’s 6.

Bogaerts struck out 27 times. Cabrera struck out 29 times. That’s more than once per game. Eight times he struck out multiple times in a game, including three 3 K games.

Bogaerts stole one base. Cabrera stole two! Whoo-hoo! The thing is, Bogaerts isn’t a stolen base guy, while Cabrera led the NL with 44 in 2012 and stole 37 more last year despite playing in only 95 games. Eighty games into this season, he has 13.

Ninety at-bats with only one extra-base hit is pretty amazing. Only two players in baseball with at least 20 ABs had a lower SLG than Cabrera. They were Mike Olt of the Cubs, who edged out Cabrera’s .144 with a .143, and Jace Peterson. Peterson’s SLG was .037. That’s not a typo. He had one single in 27 at bats.

And as we’ve heard by now, in June the Padres set the record for the lowest batting average in any month by any team in the live-ball era. .171. It’s an odd number to look at, isn’t it? .171. It’s about 2/3 of what it should be. Fifty-six points lower than the Cubs, who were worse than every other team. And Cabrera still somehow managed to bring that team average down.

It’s funny, but as I write this, I’m not mad or disappointed or frustrated. Maybe it’s the 4-game winning streak. Maybe it’s knowing that further changes are on the way. But instead of being frustrated, I’m looking at these stats without any emotion. It’s gone out of the realm of disappointing and into the realm of fascinating. It’s like watching a dog with three legs. You feel bad for the dog, but it’s really interesting to watch him walk, and see how the mechanics of it work.

Perhaps I should send that to the team’s marketing department as a new slogan:

Come see the Padres: It’s like watching a three-legged dog walk.