Five good reasons San Francisco Giants can win without Melky Cabrera: No. 3, a revitalize Gregor Blanco
OK, so the schedule should help the Giants succeed without Melky Cabrera. And having Pablo Sandoval back should help, too.
What else? How about a new-and-improved Gregor Blanco? More accurately, the Blanco from the first part of the season.
Having been unable to make anything happen on the trade front, the Giants said that Blanco will be their man to replace Cabrera in left field.
So if Blanco is going to play, if he can mirror his production from early in the season — and not recent play that dropped his average to .236 — that would be big lift in lineup.
Blanco was the star of spring training for the Giants, earning a spot on the roster as a reserve outfielder.
His strong play eventually forced his way into the lineup, displacing Nate Schierholtz in right field.
He hit .315 in May (29 for 92).
But he dropped to .218 in June (24 for 110). He was better in the first half of the month (.255) than he was in the second half (.182).
He slipped even further in July, .197 (12 for 61), eventually losing starts first to Schierholtz then to Hunter Pence.
Is there an explanation for Blanco’s drop-off?
We’ll offer one: Fatigue.
Injuries limited Blanco to 74 games in the minors in 2011.
But he played about 80 games in the Venezuelan Winter League from October to January, being named the league MVP.
He then played 27 games during spring training as he battled for a job with the club.
Add in the 100 games he’s played with the Giants, and that’s more than 200 games over the past 10 months. That’s a lot of games for a journeyman player who spent much of the past few years between being at Triple-A player and a reserve big leaguer who saw limited action.
It could explain Blanco’s drop-off.
But prior to Wednesday, Blanco started just four of the Giants’ previous 22 games. That respite may be just what Blanco needed to revitalize his body and clear his mind.
After making his first start Wednesday since Aug. 1, Blanco ended 0-for-21 stretch by going 2 for 4 against the Nationals. On Friday in San Diego, he followed that up with another 2-for-4 game.
Prior to the past two games, Blanco hadn’t had a mult-hit game since July 7.
If Blanco can be more productive, limit his strikeouts and use his speed, it could help soften the loss of Cabrera.