November 30, 2021

The Rise and Fall of Asdrubal Cabrera

Asdrubal Cabrera has been traded to the Washington Nationals, here’s a look back on his up and down time with the Tribe.

On June 30, 2006 the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners made a trade that at the time seemed very insignificant.  Eduardo Perez was enjoying a solid season for the Indians, well solid for Eduardo Perez.  The Indians were 35-43, and had no need for the veteran services of Perez anymore.  The Indians sent Perez to a Mariners team that was 41-40 and was in need of offense.  The Mariners sent 20 year old shortstop, Asdrubal Cabrera back to the Indians.  At the time no one expected Cabrera to amount to much, if anything at all.  8 years later, and you wouldn’t believe the career Asdrubal has had.

The 2007 season, was one for the ages, both for Indians fans and Cabrera.  For the Indians, they won their first AL Central title since 2001, and were headed back to the playoffs.  Asdrubal started the year in Double-A, with the Akron Aeros, where he played 96 games and batted .310.  Cabrera was soon called up to Triple-A Buffalo, where he played all of 9 games, before the Indians decided that they needed another infielder for their march to October.  Upon arrival to the Major League’s, Cabrera made an instant impact, often being the cog that made the Indians offense go.  Cabrera played his first game in an Indian’s uniform on August 8th, then started the rest of the way, mostly playing second base.  In his brief, but impactful 45 games with the Tribe, Cabrera batted .283, with 30 runs, and 22 RBI’s.  The playoffs rolled around, and in the ALDS, the Tribe faced off against the hated Yankees, winning the series 3-1.  In the ALCS, the Tribe raced out to a 3-1 series lead over the Red Sox before, well, this a story for another day, and one that brings back bad memories.  Back to Asdrubal, he started every game in the playoffs for the Indians, however his offense was lacking, as he only batted .217 in the playoffs.  Asdrubal started the season off in Double-A and ended it in game 7 of the ALCS, pretty successful year, I would say.

The 2008 season brought hope and promise to the Indians and Cabrera.  Coming off a season in which they went 96-66, the Indians were predicted by many to return to the playoffs, and some experts even predicted the Tribe to win it all.  Asdrubal was expected to expand on a very surprising rookie campaign.  Things went south for both parties.  The Indians were ravaged by injuries and got off to a slow start before trading away CC Sabathia.  Cabrera got off to a even slower start, batting just .186 in the first 2 months of the season, before the Indians sent him down to Triple-A.  However, on May 12, Asdrubal Cabrera turned in only the 14th unassisted triple play in MLB history.  Here is the link to MLB history: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgW_a4nFg_k   The time in Triple-A did Cabrera some good, because after a month down there, the Indians called him back up and he would go on to bat .320 the rest of the season, as the Tribe got hot and were able to finish the year an even .500 at 81-81.

The 2009 season was another year that brought hope and promise to the Tribe faithful, as the Indians had a MVP candidate in Grady Sizemore and the Cy Young winner in Cliff Lee; Asdrubal, though flew under the radar.  For the second straight year, injuries and a slow start forced the Indians to sell at the break.  Asdrubal enjoyed his finest season (at the time) for the Indians.  He finished the season with a .308 batting average, 81 runs, and 42 doubles.  Cabrera was also dubbed the “The Walking Web Gem” by ESPN, for all the outstanding defensive plays he made.  Going into the 2010 season, big things were expected from Cabrera, who was just 24 years old when the season opened.  However, in Mid-May, Cabrera suffered a broken arm, after a collision with Johnny Peralta, and missed the next two months of the baseball season.  By this time, the Tribe was in full rebuilding mode, and the absence of Cabrera did nothing to help or hurt the Tribe’s chances.

The 2011 season changed everything for Asdrubal Cabrera.  Late in the offseason, the Tribe acquire Orlando Cabrera, a good player in his prime, but unfortunately for the Tribe past his prime.  Orlando, was like a big brother to Asdrubal, and was the player who told  him that he could hit for power.  The Indians raced out to a 30-15 record, with Asdrubal leading the charge.  Asdrubal was named to his first All Star game, and thanks to Derek Jeter deciding to skip out on the Midsummer classic, Asdrubal would even up being the starting shortstop for the AL.  Asdrubal enter the All Star break batting .293, with 14 home runs, 51 RBI’s, and 12 stolen bases.  This was Asdrubal at his peak.  The second half of the season was not so kind, the Indians began a tail spin record wise, and Asdrubal’s batting average dropped to .244 in the second half of the season.  All-in-all it was still a very successful year for both the Tribe and Asdrubal.  The Indians finished 80-82, when they were expected to finish last, and Asdrubal finished the year with a .273 batting average, 25 home runs, 92 RBI’s, and 17 stolen bases.  Asdrubal also collected a Silver Slugger award, and was snubbed of a Gold Glove.

2012 was almost a carbon copy of 2011.  The Indians once again hung around the top of the division for the first half of the season, and Asdrubal put up solid first half stats, .286 batting average, 11 home runs, and 41 RBI’s.  For the second straight year, Asdrubal made the AL All Star team, this time as a reserve.  The second half of the season, is one that will live in infamy.  After complying a first half record of 44-41, the Indians finished out the season going 24-53, the worst second half of baseball the team has ever seen.  Asdrubal once again showed fatigue in the second half, batting .251, with 5 home runs, and 26 RBI’s.  The 2013 season, brought light to Tribe Town, as the ownership finally spent money on free agents.  The Indians offense looked to be a very good one, providing a mix of depth, speed, along with some power.  Asdrubal was the big key to the season, they needed him to preform for the full 162 games, instead Cabrera was bothered by a quad injury during the first half of the year (one that required a DL stint), and posted his worst offensive season since 2010.  His defense left much to be desired.  He lost much of his range, and the amazing plays started disappearing.  The Indians, however, played right past Cabrera’s struggles and into the Wild Card game with a 92-70 record, before being shutout 4-0 by the Rays.

The past few years, Cabrera’s name has always been brought up in trade rumors, and each year the Indians didn’t move him, the more his value diminished.  Asdrubal came to the Indians as a relative no-name player.  He blossomed into one of the best defensive/hitting shortstops in the league, and then almost overnight lost the ability to perform at a high level.  Now a member of the Washington Nationals, I wish Asdrubal the best, because it sure has been a roller coaster ride.

–Chris Sladoje (@CST_Doje)

Photo via Cleveland.com

 

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