Melky Cabrera, serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for testosterone, a performance-enhancing substance, will not win this year’s National League batting title.
At Cabrera’s request, the Commissioner’s Office and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced an agreement on Friday to suspend, for this season, part of a rule that might have resulted in the Giants outfielder winning the league’s batting title despite being one plate appearance shy of automatically qualifying for it. Believe it or not, according to Rule 10.22(a), Cabrera still could have been crowned batting champion.
Cabrera asked not to be considered under the circumstances. “I have no wish to win an award that would be tainted,” Cabrera said in a statement on MLB.com. “I believe it would be far better for someone more deserving to win. I asked the Players Association and the league to take the necessary steps to remove my name from consideration for the National League batting title.”
Where was this moral fortitude this spring?
Cabrera continues. “I am grateful that the Players Association and MLB were able to honor my request by suspending the rule for this season. I know that changing the rules mid-season can present problems, and I thank the Players Association and MLB for finding a way to get this done.”
Cabrera had 501 plate appearances and .346 batting average at the time of his suspension on Aug. 15. The requirement to win a batting title is 502 plate appearances, a total based on 3.1 plate appearances per game. The issue in question was Rule 10.22(a). That allowed for an exception by adding one or more hypothetical at-bats to a player’s statistics in order to reach 502 appearances. I don’t get it, but if the player maintained the league lead after such a calculation, he would be named the league champion.
Apparently, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn won the NL batting title in 1996, via such a calculation. He finished the season with 498 plate appearances. He had a .353 average.
“After giving this matter the consideration it deserves, I have decided that Major League Baseball will comply with Mr. Cabrera’s request,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement to MLB.com. “I respect his gesture as a sign of his regret and his desire to move forward, and I believe that under these circumstances, the outcome is appropriate, particularly for Mr. Cabrera’s peers, who are contending for the batting crown.”
Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, batting .339 entering play Friday, currently has the next highest average in the National League. Buster Posey of the Giants follows with a .335 average. Cabrera made his request to Michael Weiner, the executive director of the MLBPA. Weinter brought it to Commissioner Selig’s attention. The parties then worked to clarify the rule, and collectively agreed the rule would be amended this season.
“Melky Cabrera, through a written request to me, asked for the union’s assistance in removing him from consideration for the 2012 National League batting title,” Weiner said in a statement on MLB.com. “We complied with Melky’s wish and brought the matter to the Commissioner’s Office, which agreed to suspend the rule. We commend Melky’s decision under these circumstances.”
Yeah, he’s the epitome of righteousness.