Courtesy: Getty Images
SAN FRANCISCO - Melky Cabrera, whose breakout season with the San Francisco Giants was highlighted by his MVP performance in the All-Star Game, has been suspended 50 games for testing positive for testosterone, Major League Baseball announced.
Cabrera, a 27-year-old outfielder, has produced a major league-leading 159 hits this season, along with 11 home runs and 69 RBI. Acquired by the Giants in the off-season from the Kansas City Royals, Cabrera was on his way to a career year prior to being eligible for free agency this winter.
Now, he will miss the remainder of the season plus the first four games of either next season or any Giants playoff run.
Cabrera's loss will be a devastating one for the Giants, a pitching-dominated team who in Cabrera finally found a potent offensive weapon to pair with Buster Posey in the middle of their lineup.
Instead, they will try to maintain their position atop the NL West without their most productive player this season.
Cabrera released a statement through the major league players' association accepting full responsibility for his positive test:
"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 I 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."
The test result ends what was shaping up to be a dream season for Cabrera.
Earlier this year, Cabrera lauded the influence of his mother on his career after he won All-Star Game MVP honors.
Then, he talked of a career change he made following the 2010 season, when he spent the winter in Miami rather than return to the Dominican Republic, working on conditioning with a trainer and focusing on improving his skills.
"I didn't make big changes," Cabrera said then, "but I worked out harder and started eating better."
The results were particularly evident this season.
Cabrera was a lifetime .275 hitter before this year, but he was hitting .346 this season. And his 2012 numbers were a significant improvement over his 162-game average from 2006-2011, roughly the span in which he's been a full-time player:
•Full season average entering this season: 139 hits, 67 runs, 43 extra-base hits, 10 home runs, 60 RBI.
•Projected 2012 stats before his suspension: 220 hits, 116 runs, 64 extra-base hits, 15 homers, 83 RBI.
Cabrera will now see those numbers bear great scrutiny when he hits the free agent market.