Apologizing to Melky Cabrera


I’m stubborn.

I hated – HATED – the Melky Cabrera signing last December. Mere hours after Dayton Moore did the inevitable and signed Jeff Francoeur, they signed Cabrera as well.

Two former Braves coming off awful seasons.  It felt like another Jason Kendall/Mike Jacobs stopgap deal to me and at the time, the issue of blocking Lorenzo Cain wasn’t even applicable, because the Royals hadn’t traded Zack Greinke yet.

We’re in the last week of the season and I think I finally have to say it.

Dang.  I was way off.

In April, Melky started off hot like the rest of the team. “He’ll regress,” I thought.

After two months, he was sitting at a decent but not spectacular .274/.311/.448/.759 and had seven homers.

Good, not great.

Given his previous track record, any improvement on those numbers didn’t seem likely, and a repeat of his 2010 with the Braves when he hit .255/.317/.354/.671.  On June 3, his average was at .268.

It hasn’t been any lower than that since.  On September 22, his average is at a cool .305 and he’s four hits from 200.

All season, I’ve tried to tell myself that this is a mirage, and I’m still skeptical of his repeating his 2011’s performance. During the season, I looked at the 2657 plate appearances before this season when he had an OPS+ of 85 and modest power.  I thought there was a good chance that he could be a fine fourth outfielder – a switch-hitting player capable of playing all three outfield spots – but not much else.

Now, after 690 plate appearances, he’s having the kind of all-around season that can best be expressed by (you’ll love this, Scobee) milestone achievements.

Melky is two home runs from 20. That would also surpass 100 runs scored.  He already has 20 stolen bases, 40 doubles and is hitting over .300.  And he’s got 200 hits on the horizon.

That has never happened before in Royals history.

Five players have reached 200 hits for the Royals since 1969.

Incidentally, that 1979 season was the closest any Royal has come to the 200 hits-100 runs-40 doubles-20 homers-20 steals-.300 average plateau, when Brett scored 119 times, with 42 doubles, 23 homers and 17 steals while batting .329 (he also added 20 triples and eclipsed 100 RBI – not shabby).

Damon was close as well, coming just four homers short, but still didn’t make it.

Melky Cabrera with a potential historic offensive perforance.  Who knew?

So if you’re reading out there, Melky, I’m sorry.  Here’s to a repeat performance in 2012.

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