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Ex-Yankee Melky Cabrera To Be Deprived of the NL Batting Title (Because)

Nobody loves you when you're down and out...  (Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE)
Nobody loves you when you're down and out... (Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE)

Via Hardball Talk, via somewhere else (or via, once removed), Melky Cabrera has asked to be disqualified for the NL batting title, and both Major League Baseball and the Players' Association acceded. It's an odd and purely symbolic move, as regardless of whether he's declared the official winner or not, assuming that things remain the same that .346 is going to be sitting on the leaderboards above Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, and the rest. It happened. You can't undo it.

The bigger issue is that this is a fact-free lashing out. PEDs, HGH, and the like do not cause base hits. They do not cause .346 batting averages. They have a physiological affect, but they don't hit 'em where they ain't. Perhaps they helped the out-of-shape, disappointing Melky become the more toned, motivated Melky, and thereby unlock his obvious skills, but even then, that's an indirect effect dependent on his actually doing the work.

Then there are his very high BABIPs this year and last. He's had good luck at worst, or capitalized on his always good line-drive rate at best. The connection between PEDs and line-drive rate? Ya got me. Users may indeed get an extra foot or two on the odd fly ball, but do they also get extra precision in squaring up the ball and hitting it solidly to the exact spot that no fielder is standing? There is no evidence of that.

I'm not defending Cabrera and on a personal level would be pleased to see Posey or McCutchen win this largely meaningless title--the batting race has always been a sideshow, and one in which inconsistent rules have seen different players named the winner at different times by different publications. Does it really matter to anyone if Debs Garms is the credited titleholder for 1940 with a .355 average in 385 plate appearances?

Ironically, the real punishment would be letting Melky keep the title.Keeping the boldface numbers next to his name would prompt discussion for as long as records are kept. Instead, he will slide into undeserved anonymity. Stripping Melky Cabrera of the batting order is a weak gesture which will do more to restore his integrity in the long run than it will that of the batting title, which from Cobb vs. Lajoie and onward never had any in the first place.