That led to Cabrera being voted to the National League All-Star team as a starting outfielder over the likes of Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Jay Bruce, Carlos Gonzalez and Ryan Braun.
Not only did Cabrera outperform that class of stars during the first half of the 2012 season, he did it again during the actual All-Star Game.
Cabrera singled in the top of the first inning off of Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander and came around to score on a Ryan Braun double. He grounded out his next at-bat, but made his mark on the game with a two-run blast off of Matt Harrison in the fourth inning. With great hitting performance, he was named the MVP.
Cabrera stayed on a hot pace through the early part of the second half of the year. That is, until he was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for testosterone (via ESPN) which ended his season earlier than expected. Although eligible to return, Cabrera didn’t play in one of the Giants’ postseason games and missed out on their run to a second World Series title in the last three years.
One of the most intriguing parts to Cabrera’s upcoming season in Toronto is how the fans will respond to his return and whether he’ll be able to earn another trip to the All-Star game. Luckily for him, even if the fans don’t vote him in there’s still a decent shot he makes it as a reserve.
But can Cabrera be successful enough to actually earn a spot?
The answer is yes.
Cabrera played with a great group of stars last season with the Giants, and he’ll make an easy transition into the newly boosted lineup of the Blue Jays. He’ll once again be hitting around players who can hit with consistency and power such as Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista, among others.
By looking at Cabrera’s career splits per month, he performs highest during May and July (via Baseball-Reference). But unless Cabrera is going to hit .353 again in the first half, he’ll have to play extremely well in late April and all throughout June as well—April being when the All-Star game ballots are released and June being when the last of the votes are tallied.
What’s good for Cabrera is that he won’t have to face some of the best pitchers in the division since he’ll be sharing a dugout with them. The Blue Jays went out and acquired R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson this offseason to go along with Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow, giving them a solid group of starters.
Sure, Cabrera will still have to face David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays, Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox, CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees and Wei-Yin Chen of the Baltimore Orioles, among many others, but his team owns the best rotation in the division.
The biggest problem surrounding Cabrera’s All-Star Game hopes is the competition that he’ll have to beat. The American League is very deep in terms of MVP-caliber outfielders including Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout, Bautista, Curtis Granderson, Adam Jones and Jacoby Ellsbury, just to name a few.
Each of the aforementioned outfielders is going to vie for a spot on the American League team and it won’t be easy for Cabrera to set himself apart from the pack.
But it is definitely a possibility since Cabrera did it last year against another great group of outfielders. He did beat out the reigning National League MVP in the voting which certainly isn’t an easy task.
The best thing for Cabrera to do early in 2013 is to not think about what the fans think of him or whether he’ll be voted onto the team. He needs to focus on playing his game and letting his numbers do the talking for him. If Cabrera can put up numbers close to what he had to start the season last year, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be playing at Citi Field on July 16.