PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 15: Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates rounds second after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the game on August 15, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Yesterday Melky Cabrera got suspended 50 games for using performance enhancing drugs. That rules him out for the Giants remaning 45 regular season games and either five playoff games or the first five games of the 2013 campaign.
Commentators in Pittsburgh were ranting about how great it was that Andrew McCutchen's closest competitor in the race for the batting title was now finished. I didn't get a chance to look last night, so this morning on my way to Montana (know any hot spots in Bozeman?), during a layover in the Minneapolis airport, I checked Fangraphs to see Melky's exact numbers. Turns out Melky has made 501 plate appearances in his 113 games. Uh-oh. In days of yore that would have been cause for celebration for Cutch fans. 502 appearances are needed to qualify for the batting title.
But things have changed. Today's rule stipulates that any player can qualify for the batting title by adding hitless at bats in order to reach the 502 number. For Cabrera, that's an 0-for-1.
I would have called Rob Neyer this morning to talk about it. If Rob ever picked up his phone. Instead, I tweeted about Melky now being the favorite, with the thought that I'd write this piece 38,000 feet in the air (which I'm now doing).
Rob is getting up early these days. Maybe he's just returning to Portland after watching King Felix's perfect game yesterday. While I boarded my flight, he picked up the mantle after reading my tweet and saved me the work. Melky Cabrera, not Andrew McCutchen, is now the favorite for the NL Batting Crown.