A recent entry to WasWatching.com has generated several comments in regard to who is a comparable player, in terms of demonstrated talent, to young Melky Cabrera.
I decided to use the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia to find a match, in terms of relative career production, at the same age, for Melky (since 1973). This is what I found:
Interesting, huh? It’s our old friend Willow.
Yes, sure, Randolph was a second baseman and Cabrera is an outfielder. And, yes, Willie batted right-handed and Melky is a switch-hitter. But, in terms of “what did they do with the bat in the majors, up until the same age,” this is a pretty good match.
Willie Randolph went on to collect over 2,200 hits in his career – to go along with over 1,200 walks. I think Melky Cabrera would sign on for that right now, if you gave him the option of taking that or taking his chances.
And, if Cabrera did that all wearing a Yankees uniform, he would join some nice company. Here are the current men in the Yankees career “2,000+ hits & 1,000+ walks” club: Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Bernie Williams.
That’s it – just four, to date. (But, I would guess that Jeter will make it five in another four years or so.)
Obviously, Gehrig, Ruth and Mantle are in one class of player and Bernie Williams is in another. But, if Cabrera comes close to a Bernie Williams type Yankees career, that’s nothing to turn your nose up on, for sure.
In any event, based on what he’s done with the bat to date (given his age), and when you factor in his defensive ability, I’m sure that Melky Cabrera will go on to play in the major leagues for at least another dozen years (barring injury) and have several productive seasons to his credit when it’s all said and done.
The kid can play.