According to Andrew Baggarly, San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera has reached out to Major League Baseball and asked to not have plate appearances added to his season total, thus leaving him one at bat short of being eligible for the batting title.
Cabrera, who was suspended by MLB for violation of the league’s performance enhancing drug policy, was leading the NL in hitting at the time of his suspension, and still currently holds a seven point lead on Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen. By the time the Giants have played their final game of the season, however, Cabrera will have fallen short of the needed plate appearances. Ordinarily, in these situations, a player who falls short of the needed number will have hitless at bats credited to him until he reached the threshold number and his numbers will be adjusted to reflect the phantom at bats. Rule 10.22 allows for this procedure, which has been used in the past to credit San Diego’s Tony Gwynn with a batting title during a season in which he missed time with injury.
As Craig Calcaterra pointed out this morning, Cabrera’s batting title wouldn’t have come as some sort of loophole, but as part and parcel of an actual rule used by MLB.
That said, the agreement between Cabrera and the league saves a heck of a lot of embarrassment for the league. It was bad enough that Cabrera won been named MVP of the All-Star game earlier in the season, and baseball didn’t want any part of celebrating any additional accomplishments gained via PEDs.
Cabrera began serving his suspension with 45 games left in the Giants’ season and theoretically could return to the team during the post-season, after the Giants play five playoff games. From the sounds of Baggarly, who appeared as a guest on MLB Network Friday afternoon, the Giants aren’t anticipating having Cabrera back on the active roster this season. He would have to be activated from the restricted list once the suspension expires, but nothing says he must be added to the post-season roster if the club chooses not to do so.