Yankees preparing to deploy interesting Oswaldo Cabrera strategy

The Yankees are still trying to find ways to maximize super utility man and switch-hitter Oswaldo Cabrera, who’s coming off a down 2023 season that saw him trend in the wrong direction.

In 2022, Cabrera put together an exciting 44-game sample size in the MLB, hitting .247/.312/.429, including six home runs and 19 RBIs. While he did host a 25.7% strikeout rate, he hosted a 113 wRC+, indicating he was 13% better than the average MLB hitter.

However, Cabrera’s real value came in the form of defense, playing multiple outfield positions and capable of manning every infield spot at an adequate level. The Yankees are doing something out of the ordinary, preparing to feature Cabrera against left-handed pitchers but from the left side of the batter’s box, which is unusual for a switch hitter.

oswaldo cabrera, yankees

May 27, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Oswaldo Cabrera (95) hits a single against the San Diego Padres during the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees are Tailoring Cabrera’s Batting Approach

However, Cabrera seems to be more comfortable as a lefty, hitting .286/.344/.393 back in 2022 across 28 at-bats. His numbers from the right side are a bit worse, and the Yankees want to take advantage of the short right porch in Yankee Stadium and have him be a bit more aggressive.

At times, Cabrera was either late with his swing or made poor contact, as suggested by his 32.5% hard-hit rate and 3.5% barrel rate. His barrel percent dropped nearly 50% compared to 2022, including a 13.4° launch angle compared to 21.5° during his initial MLB action. It is evidence that his entire approach changed, but the Yankees want to maximize his comfort in the batter’s box to spark more production.

Navigating Cabrera’s Role Amidst a Crowded Outfield

The idea is that the Yankees will connect with Cabrera and pick which left-handed pitcher he will face off against throughout the season, so it could be that Cabrera performs better against specific pitches. In fact, he hit .250 against breaking balls last season, so there could be some legs to the idea of capitalizing on pitchers who throw a lot of breaking balls from the left side. Cabrera has struggled with fastballs, so his patience and ability to see slower pitches may be a category they can exploit.

Nonetheless, Cabrera’s playing time should drop off quite considerably this upcoming season with the additions of Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo, and Trent Grisham in the outfield. If injuries arise, he will certainly be the first reserve at several spots, but in a perfect world, the Yankees wouldn’t have to utilize Oswaldo as an everyday player.

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