During the very early part of the offseason, November 7th to be exact, the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals came to an agreement to swap a couple of players. San Francisco was looking to upgrade their offense and picked up Melky Cabrera, trading Jonathan Sanchez. The Royals have a bevy of outfielders, and decided to pull the trigger in hopes of acquiring a potential top of the rotation pitcher. So far that plan has backfired, and its the Giants who have come away with an All-Star caliber talent.
Melky Cabrera has been absolutely on-fire this month, rapping out a league best 50 hits, 11 better than any other player. He passed Willie Mays last night for most hits for a San Francisco player in the month of May, and he needs only 1 more hit to tie Randy Winn for most hits by a Giant in a single month. He’s hitting .435/.463/.661 with 7 doubles, 5 triples, and 3 homers with 17 RBIs in the month of May. Last night he had another great game against the Diamondbacks, going 3-4 and scoring 2 of the Giants 3 runs in a San Francisco win.
Melky is quickly becoming one of the best players in the National League. His batting line on the season has been a sensational .376/.420/.556 with 13 doubles, 6 triples, and 4 homers. He is tops in the NL in batting average, hits, triples, total bases, runs scored, runs created, and only trails David Wright for offensive WAR this season, rating him as the 2nd most valuable hitter. Cabrera has also quickly become a fan favorite by the Bay, with a troop of “Melk Men” promoting his All-Star candidacy.
His acquisition looks even better from the Giants perspective when you consider the struggles of Jonathan Sanchez, who has been miserable for Kansas City. pitching only 25.1 innings while walking 22 batters for a 6.75 ERA. Sanchez was always considered a risky proposition, a pitcher with no-hitter potential but a penchant for walking far too many batters, and was coming off of a down season where he struggled badly with his command.
In 2011 Sanchez posted the highest BB/9 (5.9) rate of his career only threw 101 innings while struggling with injury. So far in 2012 Sanchez has pitched only 25.1 innings while walking 22 batters for a 6.75 ERA, a WHIP above 1.8, and an abysmal .82 K/BB ratio. He’s been out the past few weeks with bicep tendinitis and is currently making his rehab starts for Triple-A Omaha, where the left-hander has demonstrated a bit more control. Ideally for the Royals Sanchez can find his 2010 form, when he threw a no-hitter and was worst 3.0 WAR.
This season the Giants have needed every bit of Cabrera’s production with Pablo Sandoval still injured and the terrible year Tim Lincecum has had thus far to stay within shouting distance of the best-in-baseball Dodgers. Cabrera has been able to make an impact on the offense, boosting the team up to 18th in baseball in runs scored from 29th a year ago. While the pitching staff has had a small decline mostly due to Lincecum’s struggles, it is still one of the elite, top-10 staffs in baseball, and the Giants are a threat if they can manufacture a middle-of-the-road offense. Thus far, the Melky Cabrera acquisition has been a season-saving pick-up for Brian Sabean, general manager of the Giants. If Pablo Sandoval can return to bashing the ball like he did in his first 100 at-bats (OPS of .912), the he will join Cabrera and Buster Posey to form an imposing middle-of-the-order, one that could put San Francisco in the playoffs.