Due to his 50 game suspension after testing positive for testosterone, San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera will finish the season with 460 at-bats, 501 plate appearances and a .346 batting average. In order to qualify for a batting title, a player must make an average of 3.1 plate appearances in each of his scheduled team games. Because the Giants, like every other team in baseball, are scheduled to play 162 games, a player must make 502 plate appearances as a minimum if he wishes to be named the batting champion.
Since 1967, if the player with the highest batting average doesn’t meet this requirement, how ever many plate appearances he needs to qualify will be considered hitless at-bats. So, as far as consideration for the batting title goes, Cabrera will have 159 hits in 460 at-bats and 502 plate appearances, which due to rounding, means that his batting average will stay at .346. This is good enough for first place in the National League, a point ahead of the slumping Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
This, to some people, is a travesty of justice, or at the very least, “a nuisance to any fan who checks the [archaic] National League batting statistics,” according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
I couldn’t possibly care less about who wins the batting title. I don’t share this information with you as a means of proving my cool factor. I’m fully aware that I don’t have to do that because my bad assery and punk rockitude is off the scale, mainly because I use words like bad assery and punk rockitude. No, I make that statement to give you a bit of background before I share my feelings on this supposed issue.
I really have no opinion one way or the other. Even though my feelings sometimes flirt with militancy on the arbitrariness of banned substances in baseball and the punishments that are doled out, I think that in this case, reasonable arguments could be made both in favor and against Cabrera being awarded the National League’s batting title in 2012. Unfortunately, Mr. Morosi avoids laying out anything remotely resembling reason in his 18 paragraph (six of which are comprised of one sentence, so you know his argument is nuanced), 650 word plea for Bud Selig to adjust the rules that would allow this to happen.
He does state the following:
- MLB must act;
- It doesn’t need to be complicated;
- Players suspended for a PED offense must be automatically disqualified;
- Violations gave them an unfair statisticaladvantage, on top of the obvious cheating;
- It’s cheating squared;
- MLB can’t allow players to benefit statistically by stopping the clock on their season through PED use;
- He ran afoul of the basic tenets of sportsmanship; and my personal favorite
- Melky Cabrera, antihero, still has a chance to become Melky Cabrera, champion.
The crux of Mr Morosi’s argument is that because the suspension shortened Cabrera’s season while he was doing well, the cheating stands to benefit him. However, what he fails to piece together is that the rules, as they are, already protect against a small sample size being used to make a batter appear more dominant than he already was. This is the exact reason for the 502 plate appearance requirement. Mr. Morosi doesn’t realize it, but it’s the requirement with which he has a problem.
I’m not sure that I would oppose a ban on honors if one is caught in a position that is referred to as cheating under the rules. That makes sense to me, even though it could be argued that the brand of cheating that’s being caught in most circumstances isn’t easily attributable to a particular statistical increase. However, taking issue with a smaller sample size that still fits within the requirement rules seems more like someone who has a problem with something that they can’t quite articulate and so they find a convenient excuse to justify it.
Mr. Morosi finishes his piece with the following two-sentence paragraph:
Selig doesn’t need to change history. He just needs to adjust the rules in a way that reinforces the sport’s drug policy and our own sense of fair play.
To be more accurate, it should read:
Selig … needs to adjust the rules in a way that reinforces the sport’s arbitrary drug policy and my own sense of fair play.