The San Francisco Giants ’ odds to win the World Series and NL pennant have dropped to +525 at WagerWeb.com with the stunning news on Wednesday of the 50-game suspension handed to the team’s top hitter, outfielder Melky Cabrera.
Cabrera was banned 50 games, which means the rest of the regular season and either five games in the playoffs or the first five games next season, for testing positive for testosterone, a performance-enhancing substance. The suspension, during which Cabrera will not be paid, is effective immediately.
Cabrera, 28, was enjoying a career-best season. He was named Most Valuable Player in last month’s All-Star Game at Kansas City, where he went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run. That gave the NL the home-field advantage in this year’s World Series. The switch-hitter leads the majors with 159 hits and 52 multihit games while batting .346 — the second-highest average in the National League — with 11 home runs and 60 RBIs in 113 games.
Unlike many other hitters over the years, Cabrera embraced hitting at pitching-friendly AT&T Park, hitting .324 in home games, the league’s eighth-highest home average. Cabrera’s batting average was 13 points behind that of league-leader Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh prior to Wednesday’s games. With 501 plate appearances, Cabrera is one shy of automatically qualifying for the NL batting title. However, he would win the title if he were still to have the league’s highest average with a theoretical addition of one at-bat.
What does that mean? Cabrera is 159-for-459, good for a batting average of .3464 when carried to a fourth decimal. If Cabrera were theoretically given one more at-bat, 159-for-460 comes to an average of .3456. Both figures round out to .346. If no qualifying batter has hit for a higher average, Cabrera would be the NL batting champion.
“My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used. I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and will try to move on with my life. 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.”
Cabrera was set to become a free agent after this season and this certainly will cost him millions because another positive test would mean a 100-game suspension.
This puts a huge dent in the Giants’ postseason chances. Until further notice, Gregor Blanco is the left fielder and, in a thinner lineup, Pablo Sandoval is the No. 3 hitter. Hunter Pence’s arrival from Philadelphia at the July 31 deadline sent Blanco to the bench. Sporadic activity hasn’t helped Blanco, whose sixth-inning single Wednesday snapped an 0-for-21 skid.
The non-waivers trade deadline has passed, meaning San Francisco would have to acquire a player who made it through waivers. And that generally means a guy who is overpaid, like the Cubs’ Alfonso Soriano. But Soriano already rejected a trade to the Giants before the July 31 deadline and has indicated he would again.