PHOENIX — By the time the Diamondbacks roll into San Francisco next Tuesday, suspended Giants star Melky Cabrera could have a stranglehold on the National League batting title. The achievement will not be universally hailed.
“That would be a shame,” D-backs second baseman Aaron Hill said.
Added D-backs closer J.J. Putz: “If you test positive for a substance, you should not be able to win the Most Valuable Player or the batting title or any other award.
“It’s sad and unfortunate for the guys before us who built the game that we have.”
Cabrera, who has not played since Aug. 14 after being suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a banned substance, is hitting .346 in 501 plate appearances. A player needs 502 plate appearances to qualify, but baseball rules also permit a player to win the title if his average remains the highest after adding extra at-bats. Cabrera’s average would be .3456 with an extra at-bat.
Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen was second in the NL with a .340 batting average entering Thursday games. The Pirates had 14 games remaining, and if McCutchen played every game and averaged four at-bats per, he would need 23 hits in 56 at-bats (a .411 average) to pass Cabrera.
“In today’s era, you can’t do those things,” D-backs shortstop Willie Bloomquist said. “In the past, a lot of guys did it. It’s like everyone was doing it and no one was being tested. If you want to say shame on everyone for doing it, then whatever. That was just the culture.
“Today, we’re being tested specifically not to do that, and if you try and beat the system and you win an award because you beat the system for a while, in my mind, I don’t think that should qualify. I don’t think you should reward somebody for doing the wrong thing.”
The issue came to fore Wednesday, when commissioner Bud Selig seemed to discount the possibility of stripping Cabrera of his possible title, which Selig presumably could do by citing the all-encompassing “best interests of baseball” clause.
“We generally don’t interfere in that process. We’ll take a look at it at the end of the year,” Selig said, using the slippery-slope argument.
“You can’t change records, because once you get into that, it would never stop. It would create more problems that it would solve.”
Cabrera, until his suspension an outside candidate for the NL MVP award that’s now likely to go to teammate Buster Posey, was particularly hard on the D-backs this season, getting 18 hits in 39 at-bats (.462) with two homers and five RBIs in nine games.
Putz said Brewers slugger Ryan Braun’s 2011 MVP award was not at issue. Braun was revealed to have tested positive for a banned substance after Game 1 of the NLDS against the D-backs, but a three-member panel overturned his potential 50-game suspension on appeal.
“I have no problem with Braun winning, because it was a false positive,” Putz said.