In a season of extreme inconsistency offensively, Melky Cabrera has been the one consistent hitter for the White Sox. Getting off to a good start was a key this year after struggling early in 2015.
After starting this season 0-10. Melky Cabrera woke up in a big way. His first hit came in the third game, he went 2-4 the next night and then had two hits in six of the next seven games. He was hitting .342 after the first ten games. He is hitting .291 as of June 22 after going 4-5 with four runs scored and four rbi’s in an 8-6 White Sox comeback victory at Boston.
Getting off to a good start this season was a huge key for Cabrera. He got off to an extremely slow start last season. He hit .276 inApril, but with no homeruns, six RBIs, a .317 on-base percentage and a .303 slugging percentage.
May wasn’t much better. He dropped off after going .220, .258 and .260. He managed only one home-run and 11 RBIs in May. He picked it up a bit in June going .274 , .327 and .379. He had one HR and 11 RBIs. He picked it up in the second half, by then the White Sox were out of the race.
In the second half, Cabrera raised his batting average 22 points and his slugging and on base by over .100 points.
White Sox Manager Robin Ventura spoke to the Chicago Tribune’s Colleen Kane about the importance of Cabrera’s good start this season.
"Last year was an odd one with him, he didn’t get off to a good start at all right-handed,” Ventura said. “You get a switch-hitter who can put it in play like he can and have the type of at-bats he has, it can only make your lineup better. It’s a deeper lineup.”"
This year was a different story after starting 0-10. The six multi-hit games that followed from games four through ten got the “Melk Man” off and running. This year in April, Cabrera hit .278 with two home runs and seven RBIs. The power numbers were still a bit weak. He hit .278 with a .356 OBP and .400 slugging percentage.
Power stats generally get better as the weather warms up in the northern and eastern cities. Cabrera hit .287 with two home-runs and 17 RBIs in May. His OPB was .342 and he had a .417 slugging percentage.
His batting average and OBP have dropped in June, but his slugging percentage is up 74 points. His on-base plus slugging has remained steady and climbing this season. His OPS was .756 in April. .759 in May and up to .786 in June.
Cabrera is self-aware of the importance of his good start this season. He told the Tribune’s Paul Sullivan in March:
"“Of course you always want to have a very good start because it’s going to give you some leverage over the season to get past the slumps, the bad moments,” he said. “But I don’t have any excuse. It just happened to me. It’s the first time that has actually happened to me. I feel like now I’m in a better position.”"
Cabrera has been exceptionally good late in games. He is hitting .307 with two home-runs and seven RBIs from the seventh inning on with an .842 OPS. He had cooled off a bit over the last four weeks, but his offensive explosion against the Red Sox is encouraging. Across the board his numbers have been exceptional if the game has been tied or under a four-run margin. He has an astounding .995 OPS in tie games.
The advantage usually goes to a hitter the more times he faces a pitcher. Cabrera has destroyed pitchers the third time through the order. He’s hitting .388 with two home-runs, seven RBIs and an other-worldly 1.056 OPS a pitcher’s third time through the lineup.
Cabrera has performed much better in the second and fifth spots in the lineup than third and forth. Since Tim Anderson was permanently put at the top of the order on June 13, Cabrera has been shuttling between fourth and fifth in the order. The White Sox best lineup one through five seems to be Anderson, Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu, Todd Frazier and then Cabrera.
The White Sox best lineup one through five seems to be Anderson, Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu, Todd Frazier and then Cabrera. After slumping miserably for about the last month, Frazier has shown some life in Boston with two home-runs in the series. That has to help both Abreu and Cabrera.
Despite the metrics, the White Sox have hit Anderson, Eaton, Abreu, Cabrera and Frazier one through five the last six games. With Frazier slumping horribly before Boston, series takes a lot of pressure off of him. It also breaks up Abreu and Frazier both being right handed when the White Sox face a right-handed pitcher.
Hitting fifth, Cabrera has a .311 BA with a .818 OPS, significantly higher than hitting third or fourth. His best spot was second, but he has two home-runs, 17 RBIs, a .311 BA and .818 OPS in 164 at-bats hitting fifth. He’s hit just .183 with two home-runs and nine RBI’s with a .533 OPS hitting fourth. Those numbers will get a big boost from his performance in game three of the series at Fenway.
With summer officially here, the ball should start flying out of US Cellular Field. One through five in the lineup, the White Sox should be as strong as any team in baseball. Now they have to go out and prove it.