Melky Cabrera won’t be eligible for NL batting title

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

Those of you who were fretting that Melky Cabrera could win this year's National League batting title despite serving a 50-game suspension for PED use can fret no longer. Major League Baseball ruled the the San Francisco Giants outfielder ineligible for the honor in a surprise move on Friday.

The ruling came one day after commissioner Bud Selig said he was not inclined to close a loophole that would have allowed Cabrera to add one hitless at-bat to reach the minimum 502 plate appearances necessary to qualify for the title at .346. But a contrite Cabrera apparently made the request to not enact Rule 10.22(a) and the race will now come down to a battle between Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen (.339) and San Francisco's Buster Posey (.335).

Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area had the story first on Friday afternoon:

Cabrera asked to be removed from consideration on Wednesday, when his representatives sent a letter to union officials. The Players' Association worked out a one-time amendment to Rule 10.22(a) with MLB officials on Thursday, one day after Commissioner Bud Selig said publicly that he was not likely to take action on the matter ... Under terms of the agreement, Rule 10.22(a) will not apply to suspended players.

Cabrera weighed in on the matter by issuing a statement that read:

"I have no wish to win an award that would be tainted.  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.

"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."

So to recap, Cabrera's feelings on his suspension have gone from public denial to trying to get out of it by creating a fake website to accepting and apologetic to his current state of shame. Will the real Melky Cabrera stand up and pee in this cup?

The ruling opens up a lot of questions. What would baseball have done if Cabrera actually had reached 502 plate appearances? If he had been suspended at the beginning of the season instead of the end? Has Selig opened a Pandora's box when it comes to PEDs and record alterations, as he said he has feared? Did Cabrera request this change to help in an image rehab and an attempt for a better free-agent contract this offseason, as Baggarly suggests?

Those are definitely a lot of question marks, but answering them will surely be done in a quieter fashion than any outcry that would have taken place had Cabrera won the title. There's definitely a lot of PR work at play here and it's a little strange that Bud Selig would suddenly agree to revisionist history. Especially for a designation that a majority of baseball fans can't remember from one year to the next. (Honestly, how many Giants fans do you think can tell you that Freddy Sanchez won the NL batting title in 2006?)

Still, if it quiets the moralist loudmouths who act like Cabrera winning the batting title would have been history's greatest injustice, I guess I can agree to operate a selective memory going forward as well. It certainly doesn't change what happened.

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