Miguel Cabrera is probably done for the season. What's that mean for the MVP race?

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Miguel Cabrera sprained his ankle while trying to get back to first on a pickoff play last night (hey, he has three stolen bases this year, so you’ve got to contain that risk!). It’s being described as a mild ankle sprain, but with only a few meaningless games left in the season it would seem silly for the Tigers to rush him back. If not for the sake of the ankle itself than simply so that he doesn’t get some other injury while compensating for it.

The American League MVP race is going to be interesting. Cabrera, assuming he doesn’t come back, will finish with nice triple crown stats: .328 average, 38 homers and 126 RBI
on the year.  His OPS is nearly identical to Josh Hamilton (1.049 for Hamilton, 1.042 for Cabrera).

The knock on Hamilton by some is that he’s missed a lot of time, but the difference is not extreme: Hamilton has 559, Cabrera has 644. Joe Mauer won the MVP last year after missing the first month of the season and he only had 573 plate appearances, so we certainly can’t dismiss Hamilton.

Other possibilities — which we’ll obviously be discussing more in the coming days and weeks — include Robinson Cano, Jose Bautista and Evan Longoria. I imagine Adrian Beltre and Paul Konerko have their advocates.  It’s quite wide open this year.

I’d probably give my first place vote — if I had one — to Josh Hamilton based on defense and pennant race stuff and what have you, but this is one award choice where reasonable people can disagree. And as long as they use some amount of reason to reach their conclusions, I’m pretty cool with that.

Giants place Hunter Pence on 10-day disabled list with right thumb sprain

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The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.

Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).

Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.