SAN FRANCISCO Buster Posey led all NL players in All-Starvoting and Pablo Sandoval might have shocked the country by zooming past DavidWright to become the starting third baseman.
But both of them probably owe a debt to Melky Cabrera.
It was Cabrera who fell out of the top three among NLoutfielders when the penultimate vote totals were released last week. Giantsofficials responded by increasing the volume on their campaign and fansresponded by flooding the ballot box -- voting for other Giants along the way -- to ensure Cabrera would hopscotch reigningNL MVP Ryan Braun and reclaim a starting spot.
He did, and thats not all. Cabrera ended up leading all NLoutfielders. He garnered 7,521,784 votes. Only catcher Buster Posey receivedmore support on the entire NL ballot.
It resulted in Cabreras first All-Star selection. Its ameaningful honor for the 27-year-old, who played alongside so many perennialAll-Stars with the New York Yankees and was expected to become one himself.
Cabrera said he spoke with Yankees second baseman RobinsonCano on Saturday, and they both expressed hope theyd meet up in Kansas City.Coincidentally, thats where Cabrera broke out for his 201-hit season a yearago.
This is a business, said Cabrera, whom the Royals tradedfor left-hander Jonathan Sanchez and a prospect. They traded me and Imrepresenting the San Francisco Giants. Its due to all the hard work I put inand to the Giants for giving me an opportunity to play every day.
And to the Melk Men, of course. Cabreras crisply ironed fansection continues to be a visible presence at games. The Giants alsodistributed All-Star milk cartons with Cabreras likeness.
Of course I want to thank them, Cabrera said. Theyrepart of the fans. I want to thank the fans and thank the Melk Men for theirsupport.
Cabrera entered Sunday with a major league leading 109 hitsand 35 multi-hit games. He was tied for the major league lead with 11game-winning RBIs and his .350 average was third in the NL. Only the Pirates Andrew McCutchen had ahigher average than Cabreras .420 mark against left-handed pitchers.
Melky, what a year hes having, Giants manager Bruce Bochysaid. That was an easy one.
Cabrera entered the final week ranked fourth in balloting with 3,045,884 votes. He trailed Braun by less than 150,000. Cabrera ended up beating Braun by more than 2 million. He finished more than 1 million ahead of the Cardinals' Carlos Beltran, who accumulated the second most votes among outfielders.
Cabrera's ability to play any of three outfield spots should be an asset to NLmanager Tony La Russa. In addition to Beltran, its likely that Braun, who was named as a reserve, will start alongside Cabrera in the outfield. Braun would appear to be an obvious choice to start in place of elected starter Matt Kemp, who is on the disabled list with a hamstring issue.