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Melky Cabrera Appreciation Thread

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After becoming just the 14th Yankee in history (and the last since 1995) to hit for the cycle, today seems apropos for appreciating the Melk-man.

When Brett Gardner went onto the DL with a broken finger, the full weight of centerfield fell onto Melky's shoulders, and he has carried the burden better than anyone could have expected. In the eight games since Gardner's injury, Melky has hit .357/.438/.750, improving his OPS+ to a career best 114, which is third best among AL centerfielders (ahead of guys like Grady Sizemore, B.J. Upton and Jacoby Ellsbury).

What looked to be one of the biggest weaknesses heading into the season actually turned into a strength.

It seems like Melky's been around forever, but he's still only 24!

It's not a fair comparison to make, but I'll do it anyway.

Bernie Williams through age 24: .262/.339/.388, 26 SB, 20 CS

Melky through age 24: .272/.334/.389, 39 SB, 14 CS

Very similar. Bernie was better at taking walks, Melky's better at stealing bases. I would call their defense pretty comparable, with Melky getting a slight edge due to his arm (he already has 38 assists - Bernie had 65 in 16 years).

It was in Bernie's fourth full season (age 25) that he took off (119 OPS+). Melky is currently in his fourth full season. Are we witnessing the 'break out' season of the Melk-man?

And even if Melky never hits as much as Bernie, his defense will make up some of the deficit; though Bernie was phenomenal in his prime years (.326/.411/.538, 146 OPS+) of 1997 to 2002. So here comes the poll: