NEW YORK — Melky Cabrera ended the debate over whether a suspended drug cheat should be able to win a batting title. The San Francisco outfielder asked Major League Baseball officials to disqualify him and on Friday they agreed.
With less than two weeks left in the regular season and Cabrera on track to win the National League batting championship, MLB and the players’ association reached a deal on a one-season-only change in the rule governing the individual batting, slugging and on-base percentage champions.
Serving a 50-game suspension, Cabrera 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.
“He was just manning up and saying he was wrong," said McCutchen, who is four points ahead of San Francisco’s Buster Posey. “It was man of him to do that. I guess he thought that was the right thing to do, and I commend him for doing that."
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.
— The Associated Press