|Thanks for giving up the batting title, Melky. How about that All-Star Game MVP?|
The battle for the batting title now becomes a two man race between MVP candidates Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey, Cabrera's partner in crime. Pittsburgh's centerfielder leads San Francisco's backstop .338 to .335, but there is still a week and a half of baseball yet to play. At the moment, these two seem to be trending in opposite directions. McCutchen was batting as high as .373 on August 1st, but since then has batted an uninspiring .263 as his Pirates plummeted out of the playoff picture. Over that same span, Posey batted a robust .370 and is showing no signs of slowing down. There's history to be made here; he's trying to become the first National catcher to capture a batting title since Ernie Lombardi did it in 1942. Besides Lombardi, Bubbles Hargrave is the only other Senior Circuit receiver with a batting title under his belt. Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, and Mike Piazza never won one (and Piazza batted .362 one year, for crying out loud, albeit at the height of the Steroid Era. A Coors Field-aided Larry Walker edged him in both the batting race and the MVP race that year).
Obviously this competition could go either way, and will likely be decided by a handful of hits. It could come down to a single base knock--who legs out that infield single or bloops a flare in front of a charging outfielder. I'm tempted to think Posey will continue his torrid second half and pass McCutchen, as Miguel Cabrera did to Adrian Gonzalez last year. Nevertheless, I'm putting my money on 'Cutch. He's started to heat up again in September, and even though he probably won't see too many good pitches to hit I think he can hold off Posey down the stretch. Like Mike Trout, Posey has been so hot for so long that I feel like he's due to hit a speed bump sooner or later. And, since he has fewer at-bats than McCutchen, an 0-for-4 day at the plate has a greater impact on his batting line (by that some token, so does a 4-for-4).
I'm just glad Cabrera was wise enough to step down and allow a (presumably) clean player to capture the batting title. He made the correct call by accepting the consequences of his actions. It would have been wrong for him to accept a "tainted" award for an enhanced performance, just as it would have been wrong for Ryan Braun to keep his 2011 MVP trophy had he been forced to serve his own 50 game suspension in the spring (Matt Kemp deserved it anyways, but Braun's going to get screwed over in this year's voting, so it evens out).
Cabrera can't undo what he did, just as he can't take back all the runs he scored or all the games he helped the Giants win. But give him credit for changing the outcome of something he could still control.