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Why is Asdrubal Cabrera batting cleanup for the Indians?

Aug 9, 2013, 10:47 AM EDT

Asdrubal Cabrera AP

Asdrubal Cabrera is hitting .243 with eight homers and a .397 slugging percentage in 90 games this season after slugging .423 in 143 games last season, but he’s been the Indians’ cleanup hitter since Nick Swisher was demoted from that role three weeks ago.

Since moving into the cleanup spot Cabrera is 15-for-66 (.227) with one homer and a .364 slugging percentage in 16 games. So why does he continue to bat fourth? Here’s how manager Terry Francona explained it to Dennis Manoloff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Cabby’s got a pretty good track record. He’s going to get hot. And if you move Cabby too soon–say, down to sixth or seventh–you won’t get the most out of it. So I want to keep him where he is. To be bluntly honest, if he doesn’t get hot, we might not be good enough. I’m not trying to put all that on him, but the reality is, we need Cabby.

Cabby hasn’t swung the bat as well as he’d like, but he handles it. Putting a younger player there, you could mess some things up. And some of the other guys are doing pretty well right where they are.

Cabrera’s “pretty good track record” now includes a .413 career slugging percentage. As for the other stuff about how “he handles it” despite not hitting well and how “you could mess things up” by putting a young hitter there … that’s some textbook manager-speak.

In general batting order gets way more attention (and criticism) than it should, but with the Indians fighting the Tigers (and now the Royals) in the AL Central a game or two could make or break their season and it’s tough to see how putting Cabrera in position to get the most RBI chances is helping.

  1. unclemosesgreen - Aug 9, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Michael Lewis made a persuasive case that Billy Beane was looking for guys who didn’t remind him of himself. Mike Scoscia was pretty definitive in l’affair de Napoli that he doesn’t favor catchers who can’t catch or throw. So much of managing turns out to be some sort of knee jerk reaction to the earlier playing career of the manager.

    Then there’s Tito. Banjo hitting middle IF – reminds him of himself. Clean-up!

  2. stoutfiles - Aug 9, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    Cabby? I always call him Ass Dribble myself, because that’s what he resembles anytime I put him on my fantasy team.

  3. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 9, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    Maybe they could put in Mark Reyn…..oh. Wait. Guess not.

  4. buffal0sportsfan - Aug 9, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    And why does Ryan Raburn pitch? We will never know.

  5. jarathen - Aug 9, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    I have no doubt there are a million things that good managers do well that we don’t notice, but I have to say that I fall more on the side of “a player is who he is”, and that variations are natural and to be expected. This concept of getting hot and going cold is really just the randomness of each encounter multiplied. Why do managers buy into it?

  6. hahunt42 - Aug 9, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    Another sports commentator who thinks he/she knows more than an experienced big league manager with a couple of world series rings, Typical.

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - Aug 9, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      Way to answer the question of why is Cabby batting 4th. Not worth answering because an experienced big league manager has said so and that’s good enough?

    • hammyofdoom - Aug 9, 2013 at 3:58 PM

      Well Cabrera batting 4th is actually quite stupid. Sports commentator or not, the numbers say it’s stupid. So it’s stupid.

  7. largebill - Aug 9, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Aaron, Swisher was moved out of the clean up spot, but seeing as he was moved up to batting 2nd is it really a demotion?

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