Melky Cabrera disqualified from NL batting title

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“I am grateful that the Players Association and MLB were able to honor my request by suspending the rule for this season,” Cabrera said in a statement. “I know that changing the rules midseason can present problems, and I thank the Players Association and MLB for finding a way to get this done.”

Baseball rules state a player needs to average a minimum 3.1 plate appearances for each of his team’s games to become a batting, slugging or on-base percentage champion. But the last sentence of 10.22(a) says: “Notwithstanding the foregoing requirement of minimum appearances at the plate, any player with fewer than the required number of plate appearances whose average would be the highest, if he were charged with the required number of plate appearances shall be awarded the batting, slugging or on-base percentage championship, as the case may be.”

The provision came into play for the first time in 1996, when San Diego’s Tony Gwynn won his third straight NL batting title, and his seventh overall. Gwynn hit .353 in 498 plate appearances and won when four hitless at-bats were added and his average still topped that of Colorado’s Ellis Burks, Gwynn’s closest pursuer at .344.

As the agreement is worded, the only way Cabrera would qualify for the batting title is if the Giants had a rainout and played only 161 games, in which case 499 plate appearances would be sufficient. Such a situation is unlikely this late in the season.

Weiner praised Cabrera, saying “We commend Melky’s decision under these circumstances.”

Even before the decision was announced, Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt said he was against a Cabrera title.

“I don’t think you should be entitled to certain awards when you’ve been caught in those situations,” he said. “I don’t care who it is. I don’t care if it’s my best friend, if it’s Melky or someone I don’t even know. … I would say the same thing to my son, `Son, if you get caught doing these things you shouldn’t be available for any of that, just on principle.’”

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle called Cabrera’s decision “a voice of reason.”

“It would have been hard to understand,” he said of a Cabrera batting title. “That being said, there’s a lot of things that happen in life that are hard to understand. So we don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

Posey was thinking more about the Giants’ place in the standings _ atop the NL West _ than his position in the batting race.

“Personal achievements and accomplishments are always nice,” he said. “Being fortunate enough to win a World Series in 2010 and knowing how much fun that was and this year with the guys on the team and the whole city. Ultimately that’s where I get the most satisfaction.”

Giants manager Bruce Bochy doesn’t think the batting title would be tarnished if Posey finishes ahead of McCutchen’s average but below Cabrera‘s.

“If he wins,” Bochy said, “he earned it.”

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AP Sports Writers Josh Dubow and Janie McCauley in San Francisco, and Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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