|Cabrera the NL batting champ||| Print ||
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on October 04, 2012
Despite missing more than a month, Cabrera still leads the NL in batting average at .346. However, based on his positive test, he likely wanted to rid himself of any traces of this season rather than see his name attached to batting crown.
Cabrera’s actions raise the question of whether a player can voluntarily remove himself from the batting title race. There is no trophy handed out by MLB for winning a batting crown, but it is still a prestigious honor.
Photo by Keith Allison, used under creative commons license.
At the end of each season, whatever player has the highest batting average in the league is the batting champion. None of the writers vote on this; it’s very cut and dry.
Though Cabrera actually will be one official at-bat short, an MLB rule states that a hitless at-bat can be added to the player’s average in order to be considered batting champion.
As much as I would have hated to see a steroid user win the batting crown, Cabrera should not have been able to remove himself from the race. There really is no “race” here like in an MVP or Cy Young vote. Whoever has the highest batting average at the end of the season is the batting champion, plain and simple.
Cabrera hasn’t lost his All-Star Game MVP award as a result of his positive test. Again, I don’t like seeing a steroid user get rewarded, but he was the MVP of that game after finishing 2-for-2 with a two-run homer.
Let’s look back to the heart of the “Steroid Era” for some clarification. Jose Canseco, the self-proclaimed “Godfather of Steroids,” won the 1988 AL MVP for the Oakland Athletics, though he later admitted in his books that he used steroids during his career. Ken Caminiti admitted to using steroids during his NL MVP season of 1996. Both of these awards still stand.
None of Alex Rodriguez’s MVP awards or Andy Pettitte’s playoff wins have been relinquished due to their admitted use of performance-enhancing drug use.
And of course, the game’s all-time home run king, Barry Bonds, has been connected to steroids on numerous occasions.
The main difference here is that Cabrera tested positive during the season while the others all admitted or were alleged to have used steroids after the fact. Still, since there is no voting for the batting crown, there really shouldn’t be an opt out process.
If Cabrera did not opt out, he would have been crowned the 2012 NL batting champion. It would have been a shame to have a steroid user have that honor, just like it’s a shame that Canseco, Caminiti and A-Rod used steroids while winning awards.
Since MLB has done nothing concerning steroid users and winning awards, the NL batting crown should be awarded this season to Cabrera. There would have always been a negative connotation associated with this, but again, the highest batting average wins the batting title. Period.