There are tangible, statistical reasons that Melky Cabrera is the National League's Most Valuable Player so far this season, and there are also less quantifiable justifications for giving him the award.
Cabrera, 27, was acquired this offseason in a trade with the Kansas City Royals for the enigmatic starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez and prospect Ryan Verdugo. Cabrera had been a top prospect in the Yankee system, but in five seasons in the Bronx he never fulfilled their high expectations.
In 2010, at age 25, Cabrera nearly ate his way out of the league. The Atlanta Braves acquired Cabrera in an offseason trade for Javier Vazquez, and Cabrera had his worst season, hitting just .255 while earning his release after the Braves were eliminated by the Giants in the National League Division Series. Cabrera had gained weight, lost bat speed, and created significant questions about his work ethic.
The Royals scooped up Cabrera off the waiver wire on a cheap one-year deal, and he broke out in a big way. He set career highs in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, doubles, hits, and homeruns. The Royals determined that Cabrera's break out was not sustainable, so they extended outfielders Jeff Francouer and Alex Gordon, and dealt away Cabrera for pitching help.
The Giants made a gamble that Cabrera's one good season was not a fluke, but rather a sign of things to come. Cabrera has rewarded that gamble by being the National League's best player so far this season. Here are nine reasons why Cabrera is the MVP right now.