San Francisco’s Melky Cabrera disqualified himself from the NL batting honor when Major League Baseball and the players’ association agreed to a one-season-only change in the rule governing the individual batting, slugging and on-base percentage champions.
Serving a 50-game suspension, the Giants slugger entered Friday with a league-leading .346 average, seven points ahead of Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen. Cabrera, the All-Star game MVP, was suspended Aug. 15 for a positive test for testosterone and is missing the final 45 games of the regular season.
Cabrera had 501 plate appearances, one short of the required minimum, but would have won the title under section 10.22(a) of the Official Baseball Rules if an extra hitless at-bat were added to his average and he still finished ahead. With Friday’s agreement, that provision won’t apply this year to a player who “served a drug suspension for violating the Joint Drug Program.”
The process for the change was set in motion Wednesday evening when Cabrera’s agent, Seth Levinson, sent an email to union head Michael Weiner with an attached letter from Cabrera in English and Spanish.
“I ask the Players Association to take the necessary steps, in conjunction with the Office of the Commissioner, to remove my name from for the National League batting title,” Cabrera wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.
“To be plain, I personally have no wish to win an award that would widely be seen as tainted, and I believe that it would be far better for the remaining contenders to compete for that distinction,” Cabrera wrote. “So too, the removal of my name from consideration will permit me to focus on my goal of working hard upon my return to baseball so that I may be able to win that distinction in a season played in full compliance with league rules. To be plain, I plan to work hard to vindicate myself in that very manner.”
Lawyers from Major League Baseball and the union finished drafting the change on Friday.
“Major League Baseball will comply with Mr. Cabrera’s request,” MLB commissioner Bud Selig said. “I respect his gesture as a sign of his regret and his desire to move forward, and I believe that, under these circumstances, the outcome is appropriate, particularly for Mr. Cabrera’s peers who are contending for the batting crown.”