The Mets' hot start has featured standout performances up and down the roster, but the unsung hero so far is Asdrubal Cabrera. He is impressing in every aspect of his game while providing consistency and stability in the middle infield.
Cabrera's bat has been all-around solid since day one of the 2018 season. He's batting a cool .333/.405/.515. And while that will regress when his batting average on balls in play dips, it's supported by strong peripherals. His walk rate of 8 percent is just around his career norm, but notably his strikeout rate is just 13.5 percent -- well below league average. And while he has just one home run, his slugging percentage is boosted by three doubles.
He's also benefiting from an all-fields approach, hitting the ball to the opposite field at a career-high rate -- a habit that could keep his batting average higher than his prior career numbers would suggest.
Just eight games into the season, Cabrera has found himself at four different spots in the batting order -- first, second, fourth, and fifth. This hasn't given him pause, though, as he has produced out of all of them, getting on base in every game the team has played (and getting on multiple times in six of the eight). It's really emblematic of his jack-of-all-trades approach this season, doing everything well and showing no clear weaknesses.
Cabrera is also getting rave reviews for his prudent aggression on the basepaths. He is taking every opportunity, whether it's reaching on an error or advancing on a wild pitch. But by picking his spots carefully, he's avoiding the pickoffs and caught stealings that have plagued some of his teammates. He's setting a great example for the young players around him -- an important reminder that stolen bases are not the only way to contribute with speed.
Offense isn't the only way Cabrera is contributing, though, as he has manned second base admirably for every inning the Mets have played so far. A long-time liability at shortstop, this marks this first time in his career he is seeing consistent playing time at another position and so far, the switch is working for him. He is no Gold Glover there, but he seems more comfortable moving around the field than he did at shortstop and is proving himself to be sure-handed in both fielding balls and turning double plays.
This is a big year for Cabrera, as he's playing for a 2019 contract. At 32 years old, his days as a starting shortstop are likely over, but offensive standards are higher for second basemen. And the pressure is on for him to prove he can continue to produce at the plate, while also avoiding the injuries that have plagued him for the past few years.
The injury concerns do raise the question of when Mickey Callaway will give Cabrera a day off. The younger Amed Rosario has already sat twice, but with Cabrera clocking in as one of the team's early MVPs, it's tempting to see how long he can keep it going.
Maggie Wiggin (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Archive Posts) has been a Mets fan since birth and a MetsBlog contributor since 2013. She loves throwing hard and hitting hard and hates the DH. When baseball is out of season, she fills her days with data analysis and evaluation and patiently waits for Spring