A couple days ago, Jon Heyman published an article noting that Melky Cabrera and the Giants will put aside contract talks until after the season is over; the article inevitably started up another wave of speculation and discussion on what kind of money Cabrera should and/or will receive this offseason. But oddly enough, I’m not concerned with that — at least for the time being. The Giants don’t seem to be, either. Once the season has come to an end, we’ll all have an even clearer picture of what Melky is. For now, I’m inclined to just sit back and enjoy what Melky is doing.
We’re four months into this thing. He’s come to the plate nearly 500 times this season. And he’s currently rocking a .352/.395/.527 slash line. What’s more, he’s got a pretty comfortable major-league lead in the hit column, at 154. Andrew McCutchen, who stands second in the majors in hits, trails by six.
Melky is just 46 hits away from 200. The 200-hit mark is a frivolous milestone, for what should be fairly obvious reasons: it’s a counting stat, so it’s largely dependent upon opportunity — sheer quantity of at-bats; and secondly, it doesn’t account for important factors in a player’s production, namely walks and power. As such, “200 hits” doesn’t automatically mean “good season.” Juan Pierre compiled 204 hits in 2006, a year in which he posted an 82 OPS+.
But the frivolities in baseball are fun. That’s part of what makes the sport enjoyable. I mean, hitting for the cycle is a frivolous feat, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to watch a player accomplish it.
Assuming Melky remains healthy, he’s all but guaranteed to reach 200 hits. There are 50 games left in the season, so he’ll likely get another 200 or so plate appearances. ZiPS projects 182 at-bats for him over the rest of the season. If that’s the case, Melky would need to hit .253 from this point forward. He’s hit .352 so far. He’s hit .285 over his career. ZiPS projects him to hit .308 the rest of the way. Even in his notoriously terrible 2010 campaign, he hit .255. Melky essentially has this locked up.
A complete list of every San Francisco Giants player to eclipse 200 hits in a single season:
Not only is Melky set to join an exclusive group of Giants hitters, but at this rate, he looks like he could best each of them in terms of hit totals. Willie Mays holds the San Francisco Giants’ single-season record for hits, at 208. He’s held that record since the Giants’ very first season in San Francisco. Cabrera needs just 55 hits over the final 50 games of the season in order to overtake Mays. Pretty cool, eh?