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The Season that Was: Melky Cabrera

Brian Blanco

Melky's 2013 was just terrible. He couldn't hit with any power, couldn't run, his defense was awful. He looked like an old man out there..

It did seem strange, his speed was one of the things people liked about him. Grant Brisbee told us:

He runs the bases like he's trying to make the team out of spring training -- I was surprised at how quick he was for a big guy.

In retrospect, we should have been wondering if there was a reason that he had lost the ability to run.

It turned out there was a reason for his loss of speed, power and all, he had a benign tumour in his lower back.

Melky came to spring training 'in the best shape of his life'. Whether he was or not he had an excellent season.

Year   Age   G  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG
2014    29 139 568 81 171 35  3 16  73  6  2 43 67 .301 .351 .458

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Fangraphs had him at a 2.6 WAR (that's quite the jump from his -0.9 of 2013), giving him a value of $14.5 million to the Blue Jays. Baseball Reference has his WAR at 3.1.

Melky had a .354 wOBA and a 125 wRC+.

Compared to 2013, Melky walked more (6.9%, up from 6.2), struck out less (10.8%, down from 12.6). His line drive rate was down a bit (21.2%, from 22.1), ground balls were up (49.3, up from 46.5), and fly balls were down (29.5%, from 31.4). A lot more of his fly ball left the park (10.7%, up from 3.2).

His BABIP was almost exactly the same as last year (.316, up a tiny bit from .313).

Melky hit right-handers (.310/.355/.462) slightly better than lefties (.276/.337/.447).

He hit about the same at home (.304/.352/.454), as on the road (.298/.349/.461).

With RISP Melky hit .282/.336/.444 with 3 home runs and 49 RBI.

And he hit about the same in the first half of the season (.299/.348/.453) as the second half (.305/.356/..469).

By month Cabrera hit:

April: .342/.368/.467 with 5 home runs and 11 RBI.

May: .276/.338/.397 with 3 home runs and 19 RBI.

June: .278/.325/.426 with 3 home runs and 12 RBI.

July: .356/.417/.538 with 3 home runs and 17 RBI.

August: .274/.328/.387 with 2 home runs and 13 RBI.

September: .143/.188/.214 with no home runs and 1 RBI, in 4 games, before the injury.

On defense, Fangraphs had Cabrera at a -4.8 UZR/150, much better than his -14.8 mark of 2013. He made 2 errors in LF. He also played 30 innings in right field and played one game in center field. His defense seemed to improve as the season went on. He looked like he was working very hard on his defense in August.

Fangraphs had him at -1.3 runs on the basepaths, so they figure he is slightly worse than the average base runner. That's an improvement on his -3.2 last year. He did have 6 stolen bases, and was caught twice.

His favorite team to hit against? He hit .368/.427/.647 with 4 home runs and 15 RBI against the Red Sox. He hit much the same against the Tigers .357/.455/.643 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI in 6 games.

Least favorite? He hit .167/.167/.250 in 3 games against the Mariners. He also had a rough time with the Twins, hitting .208/.296/.208 in 6 games and with the A's, hitting .222/.276/.222 in 7 games.

Melky, of course, is a free agent this off-season. The Jays say they would like to have him back. He was a large part of our offense. He'll get a Qualifying offer, which, I'm sure, they hope will limit his suitors on the open market. I'm not sure it will. There isn't much for outfielders on the free agent market. MLB Trade Rumors suggests

Cabrera can rightly claim that he's one of the best bats on the market at a relatively young age, and that's enough for me to predict a perhaps unnecessarily specific five-year, $66.25MM contract (Peralta's contract with an extra year at the same AAV).

For that much money....I'd let him walk. $15 million a season doesn't seem too high, but 5 years is more than I'd like to give him. But then, he is has just turned 30 now, he'd only be 34 at the end of the 5 years. Someone is likely to give him that sort of deal.