Saturday, September 22, 2012

Melky Cabrera Forfeits Batting Title

Thanks for giving up the batting title, Melky. How about that All-Star Game MVP?
In an unprecedented but well-received gesture, Melky Cabrera voluntarily disqualified himself from the 2012 National League batting race.  The All-Star Game MVP is currently serving a 50 game suspension triggered when he violated the MLB drug policy by testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. His .346 average leads the major leagues, and he was poised to join another cheater--Barry Bonds--as the only members of the San Francisco Giants to win a batting crown in this millennium.

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.


  1. Dodgers fan much? Last sentence of the first paragraph is very suspect - it completely destroys any credibility you might have had. You then went on to back McCutchen and pardon Ryan Braun, further destroying any logical reasoning in your argument. MVP can go either way, but Posey plays catcher and would have as many home runs as McCutchen if he were in Pittsburgh.

  2. I'm not a Dodgers fan; all I'm saying is that you can't change the past. I'm not pardoning Braun either. The man is innocent until proven guilty. Hasn't this season validated that?

    MVP race is going to be very interesting, and the outcome of the batting race won't have any affect on it. Posey should and will get extra credit for playing catcher. These next 10 days will be crucial as they try to separate themselves from the pack.

  3. @Anonymous... I don't have a problem with that sentence. If creating a faux supplement website(Melky) and obstruction of justice(Barry) on top of steroid use doesn't make someone a cheater... then what does make one a cheater. As for Ryan Braun- I saw someone at Sports Illustrated put it best "clean players are consistent players." No player has been more consistent than Ryan in his first six years. Compare that with Barry Bonds or Sammy Sosa who averaged less than 25 homes runs in their 20's and then all of a sudden started hitting like Babe Ruth at a little league ballpark in the twilight of their careers. There's a lot all of us probably don't know about Ryan Braun's test(and if procedure would have been followed, we shouldn't have known anything), but his play this year clears him better than anything else could.

    It should be an interesting MVP race and oddly have ties of sorts to all three players. I am a U of Miami alum and knew Ryan back in the day. I also had friends who played at FSU with Buster. (Interesting both Ryan and Buster started out as shortstops in college). My hometown is 10 miles from Cutch's hometown of Ft. Meade and knew some McCutchen's growing up. Posey will probably get MVP in the end.