San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera disqualified himself from the NL batting title contention on Friday morning in light of his 50-game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs. Following his announcement, the MLB agreed to change the rule regarding suspended players in the case of that one season. This, in turn, will serve for all individual batting awards including the slugging title and the on-base percentage title.
“After giving this matter the consideration it deserves, I have decided that Major League Baseball will comply with Mr. Cabrera’s request,” Commissioner Bud Selig said through a statement. “I respect his gesture as a sign of his regret and his desire to move forward, and I believe that, under these circumstances, the outcomes is appropriate.”
Cabrera is batting a league-leading .346 average on the year, which is currently seven points higher than that of the next best player, Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen. The 28-year-old switch hitter was then suspended on Aug. 15 after testing positive for increased levels of testosterone. Consequently, he is serving a 50-game suspension that rolls five games into the Giants’ post-season.
At the time of his suspension, Cabrera accumulated 501 plate appearances, one shy of the eligibility requirement (502) for the batting title. However, the rules state that if a player has too few plate appearances, the league will just tack on additional plate appearances as if he didn’t record a hit. In Cabrera’s case, they just added one 0-for-1 plate appearance, which still marks him as the leader in batting average.
“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 through a statement. “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.”
Cabrera’s move is, to put it bluntly, the right move. With his statement, he hopes to repair his public image and prove his worth once again on the major league stage. But while one statement will not simply undo months of resentment from San Francisco fans (along with baseball fans in general), it’s a start.