Eating Yankee Crow
Yankees fans enjoy teasing me about Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera. I was generally lukewarm towards Cano and he's exceeded expectations. I was downright dismissive of Cabrera, and he's been solid. Let's take a look at this.
First, let's review the Crystal Ball I did for Cano back in May. His projected 2006 numbers:
147 games, 543 at-bats, 160 hits, 35 doubles, 17 homers, 32 walks, 78 strikeouts, 71 RBI, .295 average, .464 SLG, estimated OBP (does not include HBP) .334, isolated power .169.
The reality so far:
115 games, 455 at-bats, 155 hits, 40 doubles, 13 homers, 18 walks, 50 strikeouts, 73 RBI, .341 average, .519 SLG, actual OBP .365, isolated power .178.
I noted in the Crystal Ball that I wasn't sure if Cano would develop into more of a power or more of a batting average guy, so I split the difference. It seems that in reality he has taken the batting average route. Note that he's actually been less patient than I anticipated, but it hasn't hurt him a bit. In this case, I thought Cano would be a solid player, but he's been excellent instead. In my defense, I will note that there is nothing in his minor league record to indicate that he could hit .341 at the major league level. The stats don't show it, and the scouting reports didn't either. He's better than I thought he would be, but I don't count this as a major miss. This is just a small Crow snack I think.
Now, Melky is a fuller meal I fear. He's hitting .282/.363/.395 for the Yankees in 123 games. I infamously cracked that Melky "can't XXXing hit" but he's shown that he can.
Why did I think that Melky was no good?
First, his track record. He was a mediocre hitter in Double-A and Triple-A in 2005. He was young enough to improve, but when I saw him play in person, I thought his swing was very awkward. He had major problems controlling the strike zone when I saw him. His swing had no loft to it, just a punch-and-judy approach without a lot of strength to back it up. I also had information from a very reliable source that at least two major league teams had scouted Cabrera closely during the summer of '05 during trade negotiations, and both had determined that he would not hit at the major league level.
So, I downplayed Melky because his numbers weren't hot at the higher levels, he looked bad when I saw him myself, and he looked bad when other people saw him too. In retrospect his 2004 performance (he hit well in A-ball) was a better read on his future than his '05 numbers.
I would note that he isn't quite as good as some Yankees fans believe....a .395 SLG is hardly impressive these days. . .but the bottom line is that he has held his own and controlled the strike zone at the major league level, something that I was extremely dismissive and doubtful about before the year. Even if he turns into just a fourth outfielder who hits for average and gets on base, that's still better than I expected. I was wrong about him, but understand that my pre-season opinion about Cabrera was not reached flippantly, even if I expressed it in a flippant way.