All season long, Yankee fans have been tearing their hair out watching two former pinstripers, Melky Cabrera and A.J. Burnett, outperforming their Yankee selves by a wide margin. Since the Yankees have a tendency to bring nearly all ex-bombers back for another try (a practice they may have abused in the case of Nick Johnson) there have been high hopes that Melky — who is currently leading the NL in runs and hits, and is second in batting, not to mention copping the MVP award for this year’s All-Star game – might be returning to the Bronx next year.
Now he’ll be lucky to be returning to the Giants in 2013.
Moments ago, MLB announced that Cabrera has been banned for 50 games after testing positive for testosterone. To his credit, Melky manned up and apologized: “I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down.”
The punishment not only wipes out the rest of Melky’s season, it means he won’t be available for the first five games into the postseason. But more than likely, it knocks him out of the postseason altogether, as it pretty much knocks the Giants out of any reasonable chance to take the NL West from the Dodgers, who are leading by ½ game.
At least one curious aspect to Melky’s situation is that, judging from his numbers, he hasn’t gotten much of a power boost from the drug. This season he has 11 home runs in 459 at-bats, or about one HR for every 41 AB. Before this season, he had 58 home runs in 3039 at-bats, or a little over 52 at-bats per home run. Not much of a power increase there, really not much more than you’d expect in a player who just got a little older, stronger, and more experienced (or was Melky using a PED last year when he batted .305 with 18home runs?).
The real increase is in batting average, .346 this season compared to his career average (before this year) of .282. The real boost in Melky’s stats this year isn’t in extra base hits, it’s in singles, and since when does testosterone or any other known drug improve one’s hand-eye coordination?
Ah, well, I guess we won’t ever know whether it was the drug that was responsible for the new-improved Melky or natural causes. We’ll have to wait until next year.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 15, 2012