Despite the myriad of injuries the New York Mets have suffered throughout the trying, and sometimes disappointing 2016 season, they find themselves in a tight three-way race for the Wild Card with the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants. There are plenty of reasons why the Mets have gone on a run to get themselves back into contention, but there has been one that does not get the praise he deserves:
The 30-year-old shortstop was brought in by the Mets to give them a starting-caliber shortstop, something they have not had since Jose Reyes left Queens after the 2011 season. The book on Cabrera has been the same for most of his career: he fields everything he gets to but has below-average range at the position, and he has good power for a shortstop, as evidenced by his .269/.329/.418, 105 wRC+, 112 home run career stat line.
However, Cabrera has been much better than advertised for the Mets, hitting .279/.335/.470 (all higher than his career line), a 117 wRC+ (second highest in his career), and 20 home runs (second highest in his career as well) at the time of this writing. One reason for this uptick is his monster second half.
Cabrera had a respectable first half, hitting .262 with a 102 wRC+, but his second-half numbers put him in an elite category. He bumped his average all the way up to .313, and has eight of his 20 home runs in 168 fewer plate appearances. His wRC+ is up to an incredibly impressive 147. Arguably the most impressive part of his offensive explosion in the second half is that he suffered a strained patellar tendon at the end of July that that forced him to miss time and is still, very obviously, hampering his ability to run and move in general. He is doing all of this with a very injured knee.
Cabrera’s 147 wRC+ (when scaled to a minimum of 160 plate appearances — due to his DL stint he does not have the at bats to be qualified) is 19th in the majors, above the likes of Mookie Betts, DJ LeMahieu, David Ortiz, and Edwin Encarnacion. He is second amongst shortstops, behind Corey Seager. He is first on the Mets by forty points; he has been a top hitter since the second half began.
His performance over the last thirty calendar days has been even more impressive. In that time, he has a major-league-leading 215 wRC+, which is an almost unbelievable number. He is fifteen points above Mike Trout, the second best hitter in that span. The Mets have the most productive hitter over the last thirty days, and it is Asdrubal Cabrera.
A good second half is not a rarity for Cabrera. In 2015, as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, he had a great second half as well. After starting with a disappointing .223, five home run, 71 wRC+ stat line, Cabrera blew up in the second half in a similar fashion. He hit .328 in that span, and he hit ten home runs in 99 fewer plate appearances. He also had an incredible uptick in wRC+, jumping all the way up to 151 over the second half. That wRC+ was good for 21st in the majors in the second half of 2015; he has been around a top-20 hitter in the second half of the last two seasons.
His career numbers are not as pronounced, but his numbers are better in the second half of seasons. His average jumps from .263 to .275, and his wRC+ jumps from a 102 to a 108. The months that hold his two highest wRC+ numbers in his career are August (113) and September (114). He has always been a strong finisher in his MLB career.
Cabrera and been nothing short of a godsend for the Mets since the second half of the season began. In a season that has been marred by injury and offensive incompetence, a (legitimately injured) Cabrera has done everything and more to send the Mets to the playoffs for the second straight season. And if history repeats itself again, August and September of 2017 better watch out for him.