Joe Girardi certainly appears to be riding the hot hand in center field and right now the hot hand is certainly Mr. Melky Cabrera. The Yankees are certainly glad that they didn’t DFA Melky at the beginning of the season when it appeared they had too many outfielders and the Melkman was out of options (something I, to my embarassment) thought they should at least consider at that time). So far this season, Melky is hitting a robust .327 with a .400 OBP, a .571 SLG, and a healthy 150 OPS+. I’m sure any of us would love for Melky to keep posting these kinds of numbers but can he keep it going?
At only 24, he certainly is still at an age where breakouts happen. Is this kind of production unprecedented for Leche, or has he had months like this before? Let’s take a look at his line. You only have to go back to this time last year to see that he’s had big starts before. Last March/April, he was .299, .370, .494, 135 – very nice numbers, with slightly lower numbers across the board, but with 90+ plate appearance compared to only 55 for this season.
His biggest month (with 90+ plate appearances) came in July ’07 with a hearty .368, .410, .528 line and a 147 OPS+. This stacks up very comparably to this year (with about 70 more pa’s). He continued to mash in August of that year: .306, .350, .468, 111, though with less power and OBP. Melky also had a hot July and August in ’06 when he went .313, .358, .475, 110 in July and .311, .397, .453, 123 in August.
What does all this prove? Well, it doesn’t PROVE anything, I guess, but it does show Melky as a streaky hitter who has had these kinds of runs before. Only time will tell whether he’s finally put it all together or not. Typically, his streaks will last 2 months at most, so if he’s still going at the end of June, it’s a good sign. Another good sign is that he’s putting together high average, high OBP and high slugging. He’s only had +.300 avg, +.400 OBP, and +.500 SLG in one other month of his career – usually he sacrifices power to raise his average or gets power happy and his OBP plummets.
In watching him, I must say, that he looks very relaxed up there, and he’s hitting the ball hard everywhere. He’s definitely not up there slapping at the ball and he’s not overswinging either. Yes, we’ve seen this before, but he’s young enough to still have a breakthrough. If he’s 130 OPS+ in July, I’ll be thrilled.
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