Miguel Cabrera Replacement Options

Going into this season, there were some concerns regarding Miguel Cabrera as his performance took a small dip last season (even though his numbers were still excellent by normal standards) and the fact that he had foot surgery during the off-season.  Despite this, he was still a first-round pick in most drafts and has rewarded owners so far with another excellent season.

However, the news involving Cabrera is currently not as optimistic as he was placed on the DL with a calf strain and is expected to miss six weeks. On the Fantasy side, this has owners scrambling to find someone to replace him at 1B. Here are some Miguel Cabrera Replacement Options. These players are eligible at 1B and are widely available (defined as being owned in less than 50% of leagues). This is based off of ESPN leagues and current as of 8:00 AM PST on Monday. These players are ranked from least-likely to most-likely to help in the meantime.

7) – Wilin Rosario, C, 1B, Colorado Rockies

Coming into this season, I thought that Rosario’s numbers from 2014 were an aberration and that he was set up to have a strong 2015. However, he has seen a reduction in playing time in 2015. During the time he has been able to play, his surface stats look strong as he is hitting .294 with five HR. However, those numbers have been inflated by Coors Field as he is only hitting .205 on the road.

In looking at the bigger picture, he appears to be in line for regression in the second half as his BABIP is 41 points above his career total and the percentage of hard hit balls (26.3%) is much closer to 2014 than it is to 2012 & 2013.

6) – Joe Mauer, 1B, Minnesota Twins

Once upon a time, Mauer was a valuable player in fantasy. In his early days as a catcher, he would routinely hit over .300, throw in a little bit of power and help in the R & RBI categories.  In 2009, he was at his peak as he hit .365 with 28 HR.

However, things have not gone as well since. The Twins moved him to 1B and his numbers have gone the wrong direction over the last few seasons. Unfortunately, performance from six years ago and contract size are not standard fantasy categories and this hurts his value. This season, he is hitting .275. While this is not terrible, it is well below what he provided earlier in his career.  While several players at the 1B position can at least hit for power, Mauer has bucked this trend as he has 5 HR in 339 PA.

In some ways, this season isn’t even a worst case scenario as these pedestrian numbers have come even with improvements in HR/FB and Hard% compared to the 2014 season.

5) -Billy Butler, 1B, Oakland Athletics

Butler provided decent fantasy value as recently as 2012 when he hit .313/.373/.510 with 29 HR & 107 RBI. However, his performance has trended downward over the last few seasons and he is on track for his second consecutive below average season at the plate (as measured by wRC+).

Currently, he is hitting .250 but there is some hope for improvement in this area as his BABIP is 39 points below his career total. However, expected a repeat of his 29 HR outburst from 2012 is looking more and more like a remote possibility. One concerning thing about his numbers is that he is on pace to have his lowest LD% and his lowest percentage of hard hit balls since 2008.

4) -Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies

Just like Mauer, Howard would have much more fantasy value if size of contract and numbers from 2009 counted for anything. However, it is now 2015 and his numbers have continued to decrease. While he still does produce reasonable power totals (14 HR), he has also become an albatross in the AVG category. In addition, he has also become much less selective this season (4.9% BB Rate compared to 11.2% career total) which also hurts him even if we focus on OBP instead of AVG. While he will likely still hit 20+ HR, he looks very much on track to hit below .230 for the third consecutive season.

3) -Chris Carter, 1B, Houston Astros

Carter’s fantasy value is a double-edged sword. If you are in a league that uses OBP instead of AVG, this risk is somewhat mitigated by the fact he has a 13.1% BB Rate. Carter never has and never will hit for a strong average. Currently, he is hitting .193. While his BABIP is 26 points below his career rate, one cannot depend on this to improve his AVG which sits at .217 in his career.

However, one thing he does really well is hit for power. He has hit 66 HR over the last two seasons and has hit 15 so far this season. However, he has even taken a step backwards in this section this year. Many of the underlying metrics related to power hitting LD% (Line Drive Percentage), HR/FB rate and Hard% (Percentage of balls classified as being hit with hard speed), are lower this year than in 2013-14.

Bottom line is that Carter can give you a temporary boost in power but comes with the condition that he can also hurt you in the AVG category at the same time.

2 ) – Adam LaRoche, 1B, Chicago White Sox

Like Carter, part of the downside of owning LaRoche (low AVG) would be mitigated by a high BB% (13.1%) if you are in a league that counts OBP instead of AVG. Even though there is some hope that he can bounce back (he has historically been a much better hitter in the second half), he has seen his AVG decrease even though his BABIP is actually three points above his career total.

He has still demonstrated the ability to hit for power (he is 27th in the majors with a Hard% of 36.6) and appears on track for another 20-25 HR season.

1) – Justin Bour, 1B, Miami Marlins

Bour has received his first extending playing opportunity this year and he has made the most of it hitting .262 with 10 HR in 163 PA. On the AVG side, he should be able to keep this up or even improve upon it as his BABIP is relatively low .280.

The big question to ask is how much of his power is for real. While the power numbers are inevitably going to slow down at some point, it’s unlikely to dry up completely. In the minor leagues, he showed the potential to hit for power as he consistently hit 15+ HR per season and the number of balls he has hit hard (38.2%) would have him tied for 22nd with Curtis Granderson and ranked above players like Kris Bryant and Adrian Gonzalez if he had enough PA to qualify.

Bour may be an unproven commodity but he has displayed enough upside that he could be a solid waiver wire pickup for your team.

All numbers referenced found on fangraphs.com

Main Photo