David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Baseball 2014: Is Melky Cabrera Worth a Gamble?

In doing some research for this, I was a little surprised to find that Melky Cabrera is not even 30. He’ll hit that milestone in August. It’s interesting because he’s been around for a while now and been through an awful lot, most of it self-induced.

For the purposes of this site, we’re asking if he’s worth a gamble for the 2014 season. To answer that question, we have to look at a few others.

We’ll start with an easy one.

  • Question 1: Can Melky Cabrera be in the elite class of outfielders with Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, and possibly a few others? 

Answer: No, and he’s not close. No need to waste any more time on this question.


  • Question 2: Can Melky Cabrera provide the same value that he gave fantasy owners in 2011 and 2012? 

Answer: I wouldn’t say that you should expect this, but looking at Melky’s Fangraphs Page, it looks a little more plausible.

Melky Cabrera, 2011-2013

K %
LD %
201113.3 %20.3 %.305
201212.6 %21.8 %.346
201312.6%22.1 %.279

The peripherals are consistent, which would suggest that such a wide gap is a fluke. Unfortunately, those numbers point more to Cabrera being lucky in 2011 and especially 2012 than they do to him being unlucky in 2013. If he continues putting the ball in play at a similar rate, and hitting line drives at the same clip, I could absolutely see Cabrera approaching .285 or so. Expecting anything more than that is really pushing your luck.


  • Question 3: What kind of power can we expect from Melky? 

Answer: I wouldn’t bank on much. 

Melky Cabrera Career HR Splits


You can see pretty clearly that Melky has never been much of a home run hitter. He’s not exactly like Duane Kuiper, but the 10-15 range is really all that you can expect. Even in the 2012 season, Melky was only on pace for about 15 homers before his suspension.

Of course, he could end up hitting in front of Edwin Encarnacion, which would get Cabrera a pretty steady dose of hittable pitches. Even if that happens, I’d expect more of an uptick in batting average than power, as Melky focuses more on hitting line drives in the gaps than the long ball.


  • Question 4: Realistically, what kind of fantasy value can Cabrera give us at his best?

Answer: The name I keep coming back to is Nick Markakis, only with a little more speed. Now, Markakis was powerful early stages of his career but over the last several seasons, they’ve become similar players.

The average will be good, but not likely great. The HR totals will not kill you, though you probably need a basher in your outfield to make up for the lack of bombs. Both Markakis and Cabrera should do just fine in runs or RBI (depending on where in the order they hit), and could possibly contribute good numbers in both categories in the right spot. Either way, they’ll be above average in one category, and not likely worse than below average in the other. Below average doesn’t sound great, but you can work around it. Remember, neither are exactly first rounders.


Which brings us back to the original question: Is Melky Cabrera worth gambling on in 2014?

Yes, he is. Although 2011 and 2012 weren’t that long ago, I wouldn’t list either of those as Melky’s ceilings, as the PED questions are just too strong around those two years.

But Nick Markakis — and guys like him — absolutely possess fantasy value. They’re guys you can get for cheap in an auction, or in late rounds of a snake draft, who will do well in some stats and not really kill you in any others. Melky Cabrera is easily in that group.

Again, I don’t think 2011 or 2012 will happen again for Melky, but what about this line?


That’s what Melky did in 2009 and I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if he did something like that again in 2014. We project him to come a little short of that in 2014, but also have him falling short of 400 at-bats, which is conservative.

As long as you don’t expect him to be a star, Melky Cabrera can absolutely be a contributor on a championship fantasy baseball team in 2014. As a result, he’s worth a gamble on draft day.

Tags: Melky Cabrera Outfield Toronto Blue Jays

  • cjhowardo

    Unlucky in 2013? The guy had a tumour on his spine!! He will be batting 2nd in front of Encarnacion and Joey Bats. He will see lots of pitches…

  • SM

    I think you’ve forgotten to talk about the main point: HE HAD TUMOR ON HIS SPINE!

    Of course Melky’s gonna do better, look at his spring, his BA, SLG and defense is up!

    How many other players in the MLB do you know of coming back after a tumour was removed?! I think its rare enough to be mentioned as the headline leave alone not at all!

  • Roy Hobbs

    This article is atrocious. You want to sit here and say that a guy is going to hit worse this year than he did last year, when he’s now fully healthy? What kind of analysis is this? So you take a look at years past when he was healthy and hit over .300, and turn around and say he is going to hit lower than that? He’s coming back from hitting .279 with basically just his upper body. Not to mention he’s reunited with the hitting coach with whom he had great success with in KC. Honestly, it is baffling to see someone on a site like this analyze this situation so poorly. Just because he plays in Toronto he isn’t going to do well? He’s hitting behind Jose Reyes, one of the best leadoff hitters in the game, which will ultimately lead to the pitcher’s coming out of the stretch more often than not. You did touch on him hitting in front of Encarnacion, and that means he is still only going to hit .274? Maybe being a bitter fucking Giants fan has something to do with the fact that you don’t think he’s going to do well? Or is it just because you’re a fucking moron? Anyways, he’s going to hit over .300 and close to 20 home runs, and that’s purely based on logic.

    • mdixon85

      Why would I be bitter as a Giants fan? He produced for them, got them in position to make the playoffs, got suspended, then they won the World Series without him. I guess they did have a tough road in the playoffs, going the distance against the Reds and Cards, then extra innings in one game against the Tigers. Damn him!

      Anyway, Melky has never been a 20 HR guy. Not in KC, not in NY, not even on pace in a great year with the Giants. I don’t see that happening. .300? Maybe. History shows he’d need to get a little lucky unless he hits more line drives, but it’s possible.

      The logic I’m using is the fact that his career high was a .280 average prior to 2011. Given what happened in 2012, I’d say the inflated averages those years are a little suspicious.

    • Clave

      Name calling. Now, now. Let’s us our grown up words.

      • Clave

        Now, now. That sounded condescending. I apologize, I don’t even like my tone in my own comments, so I corrected myself as well.