Revisiting the Price of Melk

To crush your opposing pitchers, see the runs driven in by you, and to hear the lamentation of your former GMs.

In May, we took a look at the possibility of a Melky Cabrera extension. Carl Steward opined that there wasn't anyone who'd be against Melky getting a Rowand-like five years and $60 million. Ignorant curmudgeon that I am, I spoke up against the idea.

That was two months ago. Melky Cabrera is still quite good. He also helped give the Pirates home-field advantage in the World Series. He is something of a hero, and now it seems like 5/$60M is cheap. Welp. It's not like you read this crap because I'm insightful. You're here for the knock-knock jokes. Hint: Buster Posey makes for the best ones!

So it's time to revisit the price of Melk, and this will be the last time until August, at least. This time, I've figured out the official McCovey Chronicles position on Melky Cabrera, and it's a three-parter:

1. Melky Cabrera is good
Not controversial. Everyone should be over the skepticism that followed Melky around last year and all of this offseason. We're 1,000 at-bats into the new Melky. He can run, and he's a smart, aggressive base runner. He can field a corner position with relative aplomb. He has a robot arm. And he can hit line drives all over the damned place.

2. Melky Cabrera isn't this good

Year Age Tm AB HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2011 26 KCR 658 18 35 94 .305 .339 .470 .809
2012 27 SFG 337 8 23 46 .353 .391 .519 .910


The difference between Melky Cabrera in 2011 and in 2012 is 47 points of batting average. He's striking out a little less and walking a little more, but those are close enough to last year's totals to be rounding errors.

The jump in on-base percentage? Take away those 47 points in batting average, and he's close to 2011 again. The jump in slugging? Same thing. Melky Cabrera isn't a different player than he was last year. He just has a higher batting average. And what would you have to take away from him to get his batting average back to .305, his OBP close to .339, and his SLG around .470?

About 16 singles.

That's the difference between last year's Melky and this year's. I could dig through those 337 at-bats and find infield hits, grounders that split the shortstop and third baseman just perfectly, and bloops that fell in. But I'm not sure how many of those the average hitter gets, so it'd be useless. His batting average on balls in play, though, suggests that he's getting more of those than the typical hitter this season.

3. Pay Melky like you're expecting 2011 production, not 2012
Again, this shouldn't be controversial. This is why the Giants aren't tripping over themselves to offer an extension right now. Those singles will come and go -- the curse of the average-dependent hitter. Look at Ichiro's career. What's the difference between his 2004 and 2005? Buncha singles. His 2007 and 2008? Buncha singles.

Obviously, Ichiro's peak was defined by more than just a batting average, but if you're paying money to a player with the expectation that he has a skill that allows him to hit above .330 consistently, you're being foolish. Stan Musial could do it. Rod Carew, Wade Boggs, and Tony Gwynn could do it. Everyone else had ups and downs, singles that came and went.

But to go back to May, I'm pretty sure I'd give Melky a Rowand-sized deal now. He's young, and I don't think his 2011 was a fluke. His 2011 production would be worth the money. Melky's a heckuva player, and it's not like the Giants are flush with outfield options. There might be a team, though, willing to pay him like he's a .350 hitter. That's the risk. That's why a contract isn't going to get done soon. It doesn't make sense for the Giants, and it doesn't make sense for him.

Melky's good, but not this good, and I hope the Giants keep him around at a price that reflects that. I will say that I'd pay a $20 million premium to keep him away from that team that says they're going to spend all sorts of money this offseason.

You know the team I'm talking about. Alright, $25 million extra. Hell, give him the Zito. Anything but that.

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