Melky Cabera is the best hitter on a team fighting for a playoff spot. Chew on that for a while. Giants fans joke that many key starters in the Giants lineup couldn't hold a roster spot on the Yankees. In this case, it's almost literally true. After three plus years floundering in the Bronx, Cabrera struggled with and was cut by the Braves after 2010.
As a result, nearly everybody ignored the 201 hits Melky registered in Kansas City last season. After all, success in KC must be taken with a few grains of salt. When the Giants sent Jonathan Sanchez to the Royals for Cabrera in November, we reacted with something along the lines of "that's nice, now what about Beltran?"
Ironically, Cabrera may be second best off-season pickup in baseball behind Beltran. Through 45 games, Cabrera is hitting .362, leading the NL in hits, and, showing an increased patience at the plate, is almost halfway to his walks total for all of last season. There's also the five triples, which are fun. Oh, and there's this, which is just icing on the cake...
Cabrera is the Giants MVP of April and May. And it's not even close. With injuries, under-performance, and inexperience battering the starting lineup, Cabrera has managed to keep the Giants afloat. He seems to be involved in every offensive rally and has made Giants fans quickly forget last year's World Series hangover trio of Cody Ross, Andres Torres, and Pat Burrell.
And Jonathan Sanchez? In case you aren't plugged into the Royals Team Stream, I'll give you an update: So far in 2012, Sanchez has taken his trademark wildness to the extreme, walking batters at a ridiculous rate of 7.8 per nine innings.
It's time to give GM Brian Sabean his due. Over the years, Sabean made his name with such infamous pickups like Michael Tucker, Steve Finley, and Dave Roberts. The Cabrera trade thus far is more reminiscent of Sabean's first major move as Giants GM back in 1997. During that off-season, Sabean flipped fan favorite Matt Williams for a late blooming, under-priced veteran named Jeff Kent. Through two months, the Cabrera trade seems like a similar success.
What gives? There's talk that Melky's slow career start was due to poor conditioning. Perhaps he was done in by getting too close with Alex Rodriguez. In any case, it seems the Melk Man has finally figured it out. Might a mid-season contract extension be on the horizon? The Giants have a lot of moving parts when it comes to their budget. However, given Cabrera's age and consistent performance since the beginning of 2011, Melky might be worth the investment.