Sports Reference Blog

How I Think We’ll Handle Melky and the Batting Title

Posted by admin on September 24, 2012

I admit I'm not a big fan of the decision to withdraw Cabrera from the batting title consideration. He has the highest average based on the rules and regardless of what he was using those hits occurred on the field. Since is pretty much all about what happens on the field, it puts us in a bit of a bind as Cabrera irrefutably (at least as it stands now) has the highest batting average in the league, but the league will not recognize him as the batting champion.

Looking to historical precedent, it's clear to me that we should now and should continue to list Cabrera with the highest batting average in the 2012. However, it shouldn't surprise you that there have been many other cases, though none recently, where the batting titleist at the time and person we currently recognize with the highest batting average don't match up.

The most "recent" case is 1910 where Lajoie had a higher batting average than Cobb, but due to various shenanigans Cobb was given the batting title (though both got the winner's promised automobile).

Likewise in 1902, we list Lajoie ahead of Ed Delahanty. The issues are even larger on the pitching side as the requirements have shifted around before settling on 1 IP per scheduled game (I've seen books citing minimum 10 complete games or 45 innings pitched). Even the 1IP/Gm can cause issues as in 1981 Steve McCatty was the recognized ERA Champion, even though in our opinion Sammy Stewart and Dave Righetti had better ERA's.

To handle this, we've decided to list ERA Leaders and BA leaders as they currently are in the leaderboard pages. These will be updated and change as new data becomes available and we will be apolitical as much as possible in how we draw these leaderboards. This is essentially the status quo.

In addition, though, we will add as awards the Batting Champion and Pitching Champion which will represent the player recognized at the end of the year as the top hitter and top pitcher. And we will strive to denote on each when the winners of the two do not match up.

This way folks can see who was best on the field and who was recognized as such at the time when the season ended.

96 Responses to “How I Think We’ll Handle Melky and the Batting Title”

  1. Josh Says:

    Kudos on a smart way to handle a ridiculous situation. I've said elsewhere that this is Bud Selig trying to take advantage of the best opportunity he will ever have to "write" the record books. I think your solution makes complete sense.

  2. Brian Sullivan Says:

    Norm Cash was allowed to keep his batting title after he admitted that he used a corked bat.
    Besides, the steroid/PED argument holds no water. There were too many changes to that occurred in baseball in the last 20 years that created that problem.
    Most notably, a strike, new ballparks that are not major league regulation, altering of fence design (some are not even MLB distance according to their own rules) (some fences have had their distances shortened and then lengthened), maple bats, interleague play, new divisions, less cookie cutters and domes), expansion, the Brewers shifted from the AL Central to the NL Central -Sosa ate them up) to the NL, The Tigers shifted from the Al East to the AL Central) to name a few.
    Remember, Oaklands stadium and Busch stadium were remodeled.(Oakland built a new grandstand for al davis and shortend the field, and St. Louis shortened their out field 10-14' after the Rams moved moved out)Bonds went from Three Rivers (335' foul pole) to Candlestick (325' foul pole) to PacBell (309' foul pole) that a 16'-26' difference in the field. MLB's rule requires 325' at the poles. Any ball player can hit the ball 309'. But it's PED's? Yeah right. "Chicks dig the longball' - MLB slogan.
    And who was that guy that for the Angels that said if he was going to play there they'd have to shorten the fences? Which they did. Fast forward, david wright. The announcer said Wright wouldn't have as many HR's in 2012, but they shortened the fences. No kidding.
    People have short memories. Melky deserves the title.

  3. What is going to do with Melky’s non-batting title? | HardballTalk Says:

    [...] Sean speaks. Skip to Comments Tweet Email Older » Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez has hand surgery More HardballTalk [...]

  4. Joe Garrison Says:

    Melky Cabrera is one plate appearance short of qualifying for the batting title. He recently came out and said he DOES NOT WANT the one more hitless at-bat that could be hypothetically added to his batting line that would in turn allow him to qualify for and perhaps win the batting title.

    I think it would be a mistake to credit him with this. He does not qualify, and he does not want the allowance MLB makes for those who hit well enough to win but fall just short.

    Any such attempt to award him the title is self-righteous in my opinion. It's like coming out and saying Melky does not know what he wants or what is good for him.

    But we do.

    Here Melky, take this one last ground out to short... because we know what you really want. Thanks for the humility, but we have our own sense of right and wrong to impose here. Your hits count, but not your own wishes, or those of Major League Baseball

    I think the leader of this website is trying to go above and beyond the very sport he is documenting. I look forward to reading another attempt to make your case at re-writing history.

  5. Joe Says:

    I read the argument that Melky is one PA short of qualifying. In fact the MLB record book deals with this in a very clear manner. It is not a "technicality" or anything else, it is simply the rule being properly applied.

    Melky Cabrera had the highest batting average in the National League this year, even after accounting for the plate appearance issue, and thus should be listed first. This is simply a matter of record keeping rather than moralizing. I think Sean has made the right call.

  6. Joe Garrison Says:

    He'll make the right call (in my opinion) when the "black ink" is removed from Melky's batting average.

    That will be the real sign. It's part of what they do here.

    There's even a "black ink test". It's part of what makes this site relevant.

    Is Baseball-Reference bigger than Major League Baseball itself?

  7. Ben Says:

    The site is bigger than MLB when it follows MLB's rules and MLB doesn't.

  8. Joe Garrison Says:


    The "rule" you site is actually an allowance for NOT following the original guideline of 502 plate appearances. THAT's the rule. They allow themselves to break it once and a while.

    Melky said, for lack of a better phrase, "Don't bother, stick to 502 or bust".

    If that black ink remains, BBRef is basically saying the heck with Melky's request, and the heck with Baseball's response. If this remains as is, then I don't see how you can say anything other than BBRef is making up its OWN rules.

    In this case, we will allow for the 502 rule to be broken even if everyone on the inside of the sport wants that number to be a hard and fast number (read: rule) in this particular instance. This isn't analysis, where BBRef can redefine WAR or some other metric as it sees fit. This is recognition of an accomplishment within the sport itself, by Major League Baseball. They don't give out an award to the league leader in WAR or OPS+...

    We ain't talkin' range factor folks, or runs saved, or WARP or some other metric that can have a different formula depending on the time of day. This is THE batting title. You become famous for finishing first in that particular category. Melky doesn't want the title and MLB said "fine" and they won't give him the extra out, so who are we to argue with that?

  9. salvo Says:

    Joe, the requirements for the batting championship are laid out in the rulebook in three sentences (no subclauses, no footnotes, etc.). Given those three sentences, Cabrera led the league in batting, which is what bb-ref is recognizing. He had the highest qualifying batting average in the NL. Regardless of what he may have been ingesting.

    It's similar to Pete Rose---an admitted greenie user, along with probably 90% of MLB players from the 1960s up until very recently---having led the league in batting three times.

    It doesn't matter what Melky wants, or what tortured logic---however much you may want to agree with the sentiment behind it---Bud Selig uses, by the rules of MLB Melky Cabrera led the league in batting in 2012. Not on a technicality, but on the guidelines used to determine the qualifying leader.

    It's like a guy hitting a homer to win a game off some rookie starter making his MLB debut, and then (and I hope this never happens) the kid is killed that night and then the hitter says he wishes he'd never hit the homer so that the kid could have the win, and his family could have that, and then Bud Selig says, yes, let's do that. It might be a nice gesture, but it's not what happened and doesn't reflect reality.

    If the real issue is how to account for players' performances who've used PEDs, well, sir, you're talking about most of the players in MLB over the last 50+ years. Mays, Mantle, etc., all the icons. It's the nature of big-time sports and competition, and it didn't start with Jose Canseco in 1987; getting an edge---even one forbidden by the rules---has been around since baseball was invented.

  10. Frank Says:


    First, the batting title doesn't make you famous. It's just a single year accomplishment that is in the record books, but not in our minds until the winner is up for free agency.

    Second, the rule was amended numerous times over the years, and varied between NL and AL. A previous requirement in the NL was 100 games played. Melky has exceeded that. If that were the rule now, would you expect MLB to still disqualify him? The current rule (since 1967) is written in to make it clear that hitless at bats to get to 502 plate appearances are how the batting champion is determined.. The batting title is a statistic, not an award voted on, and my opinion is that Melky should be the winner.

    In my mind, this is a slippery slope that MLB is walking down. Will the fans and media want wins removed from a team after the next PED suspension? What about excluding that players team from the post season for letting a player cheat? Will they retroactively comb through the record books and adjust hitting stats for confirmed PED users? This is MLB, leave the record book cleansing stay with NCAA athletics.

    Bravo to this site to give Melky the recognition in this, with the * that will explain the reason he isn't in the MLB record books.

  11. Joe Garrison Says:

    Quoting Frank:

    The batting title is a statistic, not an award voted on, and my opinion is that Melky should be the winner.

    Frank, thank you for making my point. People win awards. People don't win statistics.

    On THIS site, Black Ink means something. It means you won something. Melky doesn't want to win, MLB said fine, we will keep you under the minimum amount to qualify for the title.

    I say let him keep his statistic, but let the black ink go to someone else. That's it. That's all I am saying. Awarding him with black ink for NOT winning an award seems silly to me.

  12. Brian Sullivan Says:

    Enough with the asterisks already. It was taken away from Maris, but now everyone should have one because the media doesn't like the rules. Maybe we should asterisk eveone that played 154 game schedules, and then asterisk them because some played in old parks, and then others in the last generation's parks, and now the new ones. How about we asterisk the maple bat users, and then those that played pre- breaking the color barrier. If Cabrera wins, he wins. Others have been suspended. Plus has anyone ever heard of Willie McGee. He got traded before the July 31 deadline and won the NL title. Useless argument. MLB shouldn't cave to the media ever. besides baseball doesn't even follow its fence distance requirements and that's the fourth rule in the book.

  13. Joe Garrison Says:


    We are talking about an allowance MLB makes for people who get close. That clause is there for batters who supposedly WANT to win the title. He does not want the help. Fine. Let him keep the number, but let the black ink go to someone else.

    MLB can justify not awarding him the batting title. How can BBRef justify the black ink to someone who does not qualify without the help they have refused?

    My argument would be the same without the PEDs and I don't see how amphetamines in the 1970s is relevant here.

  14. Joe Garrison Says:

    Oh yeah... Frank...

    Winning the Batting Title is a big deal. It does make you famous. Or maybe it DID, back during a time before stars of reality television began to capture are attention more so than box scores in newspapers. Read the obit of anyone who ever won a batting title. Start with anyone who was never part of a World Series Winner or someone who only one a single title. This special achievement is most likely stated in the first two paragraphs, even with the World Series fame and fortune.

    Here is what the New York Times has on four random guys... I found this in a span of about five minutes:

    Carl Furillo, the right fielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers during their glory years in the late 1940’s and 50’s, died yesterday at his home at Stony Creek Mills, Pa. He was 66 years old. Furillo played his entire 15 year career with the Dodgers in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, taking part in seven World Series and finishing with a career batting average of .299. He hit 192 home runs and had 1,058 runs batted in. His best season was in 1953 when he led the National League in batting with a .344 average. (and so on)

    George Kell, the Hall of Fame third baseman who won the American League batting title in 1949 with the Detroit Tigers and was a longtime broadcaster for the team, died Tuesday at his home in Swifton, Ark. He was 86.

    Phil Cavarretta, who played 20 seasons for the Chicago Cubs and won the National League's most valuable player award and batting championship in 1945, the last time the Cubs captured a pennant, died Saturday in Lilburn, Ga. He was 94. His death, at a hospice, resulted from a stroke he sustained on Dec. 7, his son, Phil Jr., said.

    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. Dec. 7 -- Frank (Lefty) O'Doul, who won the National League batting championship in 1929 and 1932, died today in French Hospital, which he entered Nov. 12 following a stroke. He was 72 years old. Favorite With Fans -- Few baseball players radiated as much and as long-lasting personal appeal as Lefty O'Doul. In his native San Francisco, where his name adorned a downtown restaurant...

    See what I mean? Let's not confuse lasting fame among baseball fans with how often we see mediocre talents grab their fifteen minutes by a variety of means, often times without real achievement over a period of time even shorter than a baseball season.

  15. Kenneth Matinale Says:

    It's not a title. It's a stat.

  16. Frank Says:


    The rule book doesn't say "hit-less at-bats will be added to determine the batting champion, if player A wants it". The rulebook is black ink (to make a silly pun on your words). The rule is stated clearly, no debate in it's interpretation. The only grounds that MLB can reasonably justify it's refusal to give Melky the chance to be the batting champion is moral grounds. If for example, MLB refused to award Reyes the NL batting title last year for not playing the full last game, and leaving the game only after he statistically put the race out of reach, they morally could justify it and call it an unfair tactic. People would be livid about it because it wouldn't follow their rules. It would show they are changing things on the fly to suit their needs. This is the same type of situation. They are altering their rules, on the fly, to suit the supposed moral needs of the game.

    This whole situation reeks of MLB trying to do too little too late with PEDs and the record books. Let Melky have his batting title, and let it be a bigger blemish on his career. In a way, they are letting him off easy. People will look back at this season years down the road and say "He may have used PEDs, but it's not so bad because he wasn't eligible for the batting title. I guess it's not so bad then." Change the punishments for PED users in the off-season, don't just tinker with the rules on the fly to make yourself look better.

    Also a footnote that I enjoyed reading when looking at batting title rules:
    "Pre-1920 – A player generally had to appear in 100 or more games when the schedule was 154 games, and 90 games when the schedule was 140 games. An exception was made for Ty Cobb in 1914, who appeared in 98 games but had a big lead and was also a favorite of League President Ban Johnson."
    He was awarded the title because the League President liked him and bent the rules for him. I find that funny, and ironic with Cobbs reputation.

  17. salvo Says:

    How can BBRef justify the black ink to someone who does not qualify without the help they have refused?

    Joe, Melky qualifies according to the rule, not because some higher power reached out to give him help.

    We are talking about an allowance MLB makes for people who get close

    It's not an allowance MLB makes for "people who get close." It's a statistical threshhold that is used to define the league leader in batting average, for everyone (whether they're close or not), and Cabrera meets the threshhold. By definition. Without anyone's help.

  18. JP Caillault Says:

    Although extremely unlikely given that the Giants play their last 9 games in SF, SD, and LA, I'm hoping against all hope that one of those games is rained out, making the whole "please don't apply the special extra plate appearance rule in my case" fiasco disappear.

  19. Danny Wind Says:

    The problem I have with this decision is that, for years before the 3.1 PA-per-game standard was instituted, BB-Ref lists the league leaders in rate stats according to MLB's official qualifying standards of the day. But under the official rules of this day, Melky isn't eligible to lead the league in batting average in 2012. I think, whatever way you go with this, it ought to at least be consistent across the years.

  20. Danny Wind Says:

    Although extremely unlikely given that the Giants play their last 9 games in SF, SD, and LA, I'm hoping against all hope that one of those games is rained out, making the whole "please don't apply the special extra plate appearance rule in my case" fiasco disappear.

    Wouldn't make a difference, unfortunately: the qualifying rules are based on "the average or expected number of games played in the league that year," so even if the Giants only play 161 games, Melky would still need 502 PAs to qualify.

  21. Barry Says:

    The batting title is his (barring a phenomenal season-ending performance by another).
    An asterisk is his too.

  22. Tangotiger Says:

    The issue with the ERA leader is that they did lazy math. Rather than using all the outs recorded, they round it off before doing the calculation.

    They also do this lazy math when presenting the final numbers, don't they? That an ERA is rounded to two decimal places and batting average to three? I don't remember. But if they did, that's just being lazy some more.

    In the case of Melky however, that's not the case. Melky is one PA short of qualifying, the way Mark Eichorn was 5 IP short of qualifying in his 1986 rookie year.

    So, they have a rule in place for hitters that you get a hitless at bat until you meet the threshold. It's not clear why you'd get that. It's not like Melky would have stopped at 502 had he not been suspended. Presumably it's put in place for guys who got hurt, so, had they played through their injury somehow, they would have stopped at 502, or platoon players making a push for it.

    But that's not Melky. Melky was suspended. And, they added a provision that says that suspended players don't get the benefit of adding hitless at bats to force them to qualify. That's the rule.

    We can say it's a stupid rule, but we can also say that the 502 PA is a stupid rule as well. The denominator is AB, not PA. And if Ted Williams draws 150 walks, then tough noogies... it's easier to post a league-leading batting average the fewer AB you get. Ask George Brett.

    In 1986, Clemens had a 2.48 ERA. In order for Eichorn's 1.72 in 157 to stay ahead of Clemens, he'd have to give up 14 runs in 5 innings. To lose to Clemens, that means 15 runs in 5 innings.

    They could put the rule as "one run for each inning short of qualifying". Or even two runs for each inning.

    But, that's just as arbitrary as giving Melky an oh-fer only until he reaches the qualifying point. They could have said one hitless at bat for each game he doesn't play.


    It's a matter of how far Sean wants to represent the official rules of baseball, or simply take matters into his own hands and apply his standards. Who'll get the black ink, Melky or someone else?

    Once Sean has decided that he's not the official gatekeeper of MLB, he can do whatever he darn well pleases. There's no reason that he has to be party to whatever political shenanigans MLB wants to employ.

    It's only due to providence that Melky is sitting at 501. Imagine if he was at 502 what contortions MLB would have been involved with.

  23. INGY Says:


  24. TADontAsk Says:


    Maybe I misunderstand what you're saying, but MLB would never give the batting title to a player whose average would be the lesser of two if expanded out to more than 2 decimal points. The reason they only list 2 is for simplicity's sake. If you list 5 or 10 decimal points in the paper, it's not going to look pretty. They're not doing lazy math. The ERA is rounded to 2 decimals once it is finally calculated.

    As for the whole argument here, I'm not sure what the big deal is. I have an opinion on the matter, but it's irrelevant. All B-R is saying is, if you consider the batting title leader this way, go here. If you consider it the other way, we have a page for that too. This way should please everyone, but apparently that isn't possible.

  25. Barry Says:

    I like the idea (see Tantotiger) that Melky was not injured/sick - but was suspended - and therefore not entitled to the imaginary plate appearances (one) that would have him qualify for the batting title.

  26. J. B. Rainsberger Says:

    Two simple points.

    First, MLB can declare whoever they want to be champion of anything. They own it. If they want to make J. Edgar Hoover the 1978 AL ERA champion, then they can do it.

    Second, is absolutely right to distinguish between the official leaders as MLB declared them and the leaders per the most sensible guidelines available.

    That's it. It's really just that simple.

  27. Jon L. Says:

    I think this is the most sensible solution. In truth, I would like to see Mark Eichhorn listed with the 1986 ERA leaders as well, since he was clearly one of the pitchers in baseball, and finished only five innings (whether effective or disastrous) short of the title. But Eichhorn isn't typically listed among the leaders, because there's no simple adjustment - while the worst at-bats result in an 0-for-1, the worst pitching performances result in no innings pitched. In Melky's case, there is a simple and reasonable adjustment that could be made, and making that adjustment has been the accepted rule for many years.

  28. Joe Garrison Says:

    It has been quite an experience reading these replies. I have given some thought to all of this, and here's where I stand as an avid reader and user of Baseball-Reference.

    When I use this site, if I see black ink on someone's career batting line, I automatically assume they had the most tallies in the league, or finished with the highest rate if they qualified to lead the league. I don't question it. I just assume they were the league leader. This is also related to a player's black ink score and grey ink score when sizing them up for the Hall of Fame. I find this very useful.

    After looking up the actual rule, the word "shall" is all over the place... as in "shall be awarded" and so on. Here is the part of the rule book that covers statistics, and more to the point, what we are talking about here:

    "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."

    That word SHALL does it for me. I say give Melky the black ink on this site wether he wants the title and honor of winning or not. Even if MLB does not recognize him as the leader, their own rules have the word SHALL right there in the rules. It does not say... MAY BE CHARGED with extra hitless at-bats, but in fact it says SHALL...

    They even give an example:

    For example, 162 times 3.1 equals 502.2, which is rounded down to a requirement of 502.
    If, for example, Abel has the highest batting average among those with 502 plate appearance in a Major League with a .362 batting average (181 hits in 500 at-bats), and Baker has 490 plate appearances, 440 at-bats and 165 hits for a .375 batting average, Baker shall be the batting champion, because adding 12 more at-bats to Baker's record would still give Baker a higher batting average than Abel: .365 (165 hits in 452 at-bats) to Abel's .362.

    At this point we have him as our batting champion wether or not he wants the title, and wether or not we think he earned the honor.

  29. Fred Bobberts Says:

    Baseball is a self defining institution. As such it speaks for itself on all elements regarding its awards.

  30. Jeff Allen Says:

    I'm extremely exhausted after 13 of the last 16 hours doing accounting work. And the other three staring at other things on my computer and watching the Giants play like they hired replacement refs to take their spots. So, thoughts aren't all there, having to correct numerous errors, but here's my brief thoughts.

    BBref, unless I'm wrong, isn't a museum dedicated to antiques and memorabilia. BBref treats baseball as living, breathing, sentient being. Anyone can be given an award. And BBRef should make not of that. But in cases like this, or the LaJoie/Cobb fiasco, or the ongoing discussion of Gehrig's total RBI, I believe that it is BBref's duty to reflect the numbers at all costs. The meaning behind the numbers if huge, obviously, and the stories are great.But the numbers must remain unchanged until there is an official and permanent rule change that contains a retroactive clause in it. BBref has never claimed to be the official stats keepers for MLB. We can add things that they couldn't care less about. And with that freedom comes the ability to simply report the numbers. If the numbers have Melky in first, we consider him the winner. If he's not (Cutch goes 20-20 over the last week), he isn't. Simple as that.

    I apologize for the rambling nature of this post. I hope my point came through somehow anyways.

  31. Dr. Doom Says:

    Sean, you're handling this EXACTLY as you should. I would have no problem seeing this site reflect the 1910 AL, 1940 NL, and 1942 NL (see The New Bill James Historical Abstract for the stories on these later two... fascinating) differently, as long as I could ALSO find the results put forth by MLB for those seasons. Obviously, this site is used differently by different people, but as it's used for both statistical analysis (i.e., what actually happened on the field) and reference (i.e., what MLB records historically, vis-a-vis batting titles, MVP awards, etc.), it makes sense to me to record both. Kudos on a wise decision.

  32. Pete Says:

    Funny how Bartolo Colon isn't asking for his 38 strikes in a row to be stricken from the record.

    Melky did wrong, then further complicated things by pulling this stunt. Steroids or not, he's the batting champion, just as McGwire was HR champion just as Clemens was a Cy Young award winner...oops now we've entered this conversation.

    Do people know that the NFL's steroid testing is like, 1/100th as thorough as MLBs? Who even cares about steroids at this point? Why is MLB the only sport on the world interested in standing with the values of the Olympics? Especially since the beginning of time, drugs have played a massive part in the game, you could even break it into eras:

    1960s-2006: greenies (speed) red juice
    mid 70s-early 90s: cocaine
    early 90s to late 00s: HGH and steroids
    1970s to present: marijuana

    Yes, its America's past time, but it also is the most humanistic of all sports, it DOES have a seedy underbelly, and, just like in real life, its not always handled correctly.

  33. Barry Says:

    All these other drugs reduce performance - they have the nifty capacity to remove the player from the league. Steroids enhance performance, putting downward pressure on minor league players, then college players, then high school players - and finally Little League players. That might be ok if steroids didn't put health, and even life, at risk.
    It CANNOT be that we are going to tell our children that they need to take steroids so they can win the starting job over some other child - and that's the only way to remain competitive - which is what will happen if steroids are given the ok.
    The NFL is already killing its players through concussions, that league's looking the other way on steroids should not be held up as a model for baseball.

  34. John Autin Says:

    What bothers me the most about MLB's end run is that it creates an artificial moral distinction between a drug cheat with 501 PAs and one with 502.

    The rule tweak they came up with achieves their goal in the narrowest possible way, and at first blush may even seem reasonable, if you don't look beyond the immediate case that it was aimed at. Any broader view reveals that this move has exactly as much logic as a simple declaration that Melky won't be recognized because he cheated.

    Of course, they couldn't go there for fear of creating a precedent, so they had to hide their intentions behind the framework of the rule. That's what I consider shamefully corporate.

  35. Sal Lagonia Says:

    The 1919 Reds won The World Series, Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs and Cobb won the 1910 batting title.

    Baseball isn't like other sports - It's a story. The story's modern volume began in 1901, and continues to this day. When there is something more to the numbers, we tell the story about how it came about. We don't remove Bonds' home runs or The Reds championship, we tell the story about it... And we don't remove Melky's average either, we just tell the story.

  36. jimmy vac Says:

    Cheaters do not be removed.. as far as I am concerned, take a third off their total numbers.. By the same token , if they have not cheated, do not assume anything negative like the rumors around Bagwell that may have hurt his HOF vote...

  37. jimmy vac Says:

    Meant need to bee removed..

  38. Gary Gramse Says:

    As I recall Ted Williams was denied the batting crown in 1954 even though he had 526 plate appearances. The rule at the time was 2.6 official at bats per game or 400 for the season. Williams had only 386 official at bats. Consequently the rule was later changed to 3.1 plate appearances per game or 477 based on the154 game schedule. The point being that the rule in effect at the time was followed. You should not change the rules during the season to favor or disfavor a player. Their is no justification for not allowing Cabrera to be the batting title leader. If this had occurred because of an injury there would be no question that he would be awarded the the title. Only the fact that peds were involved makes appear to be right to deny him the title. If baseball starts playing this game of disallowing things because of peds then there are a whole lot of stats should changed or asterisked.

  39. obsessivegiantscompulsive Says:

    I tried to read through all the comments to see if this point was made, so apologies if so: the rule has changed over the years. It has not been static at all, more than I thought reading through some of the comments.

    In fact, the rule to add hitless ABs to a player's stats to see if he would have qualified had he been able to play enough games to reach the qualifying PA total, was put in in order to qualify hitters who missed games due to injuries (but I suppose also military service) but who hit so well that had they been able to play but was hitless in those ABs required to qualify, he would qualify and win the batting title. So the rule has been changed before, though I would imagine that the rule was not retroactive.

    The only difference now is that the rule was changed mid-season. I think people are focused too much on other things to focus on what I think is the most important factor: does the rule make sense?

    I think it makes sense to not award these imaginary additional ABs to a player who is suspended for PED usage. Unlike an injured player who would have played had he not been injured (most probably), it was simply impossible for Cabrera to have earned the extra AB necessary to qualify because he was suspended.

    It is not like the hitter with the highest batting average gets the award every year. It is the hitter with the most qualifying PAs. This is an award to reward excellence in hitting. And the rules have changed before to make sense for the times they were in. We have never had to deal with a potential qualifying player before now, but had we thought about this rule for this specific situation, I think we would have chosen to implement this rule years ago, after the first PED suspension were given. I think this rule change makes sense, and it don't matter to me when it is implemented, as long as everyone (meaning Melky, the MLBPA, and the MLB) are OK with it. Had the MLB just done it to spite Melky, then I can see the outrage, but this was something he requested, and the rule was changed to make sense for today's world. 'Nuff said!

  40. Jason Says:


    If you're going to give Melky Cabrera black ink then you've got to be consistent. Most commenters seem to think this is the only instance where the "real" leader is different from the official one, but in fact there have been several cases in MLB history, due to shifting standards. The current rule (3.1 PA per scheduled game, add phantom at bats to get up to the minumum level) is quite recent.

    A commenter mentioned Ted Williams losing the 1954 batting title to Bobby Avila even though he would have won it under the current rule, but that just scratches the surface. There's also Guy Hecker in 1886 (Pete Browning is the real leader), Nap Lajoie in 1902 (El Delahanty), Ty Cobb in 1914 (Eddie Collins), Bubbles Hargrave in 1926 (Paul Waner), Dale Alexander in 1932 (Jimmie Foxx), Debs Garms in 1940 (Stan Hack, who comes in 4th on the BBRef leaderboard, actually would have won it easily under current rules), and Ernie Lombardi in 1942 (Enos Slaughter, with almost twice as many PA).

    Most of these championships are preposterous, with the leader getting only 380 PA or so. Lombardi won with only 347, and if you added enough hitless at bats to meet today's standard his average would be below .250. I would completely support you if you said to hell with MLB's rules, we'll just apply a consistent standard across all of baseball history and let the chips fall where they may. When I look at the leaderboard, I don't care who people in 1940 thought led the league according to that year's wrinkle of history --- I just want to know who had the best numbers according to the best possible accounting of day-to-day events measured against a reasonable standard for qualification. The early editions of Total Baseball did just that, though eventually they chickened out.

    But if you aren't going to change those old weak-tea championships, I don't see how you can justify ignoring MLB's finding on Cabrera. Melky Cabrera does NOT "have the highest average based on the rules" because the rules in 2012 say he's disqualified. Not totally unprecedented either. Taffy Wright had the highest average based on the standard in 1938 (he played 100 games), but baseball said "Sorry, we're not going to recognize that because it's just too silly." They made a one-year, one-case exemption.

    Recognizing Cabrera is like recognizing Wright, unless you go all the way and apply the same standard to every season. I hope you do.

  41. admin Says:

    If you're going to give Melky Cabrera black ink then you've got to be consistent. Most commenters seem to think this is the only instance where the "real" leader is different from the official one, but in fact there have been several cases in MLB history, due to shifting standards. The current rule (3.1 PA per scheduled game, add phantom at bats to get up to the minumum level) is quite recent.

    This case is much different. Williams didn't win because the rule at the time precluded him from winning. Melky isn't winning this year even though the rule says that he should.

    We also try to show the batting champion using the standard of the time, but in this case the standard of the time says Melky should win.

  42. Joe Garrison Says:


    When I look up Melky's batting record two days after the last game of the season, will his batting average be in bold?

    After all this, I have that question for you.

    I used to think no, it should not be in bold if he won't be recognized by those who run MLB at the time, but that rule and all its "shall"s makes me think the black ink should be there despite anyone's request.

  43. Brian Sullivan Says:

    Follow the rule. Not the debate.

  44. Joe Simas Says:

    #43 above says all there is to say...if violation of rules like those Melky broke and any other "integrity of the game" violations (gambling) should make ineligible violators ineligible for any standard awards, then those rules should be instituted before the '13 season.

    Melky screwed up and tainted his performance this season--but as Brian said, "follow the rule."

  45. Lee Panas Says:

    Sean, you definitely made the right move. The purpose of statistics is not to punish or reward players, but to record what happened on the field as accurately as possible. A fan, writer, researcher may interpret the data as he pleases, but official statistics and rules for how they are listed should never be altered for political reasons.

  46. Kingturtle Says:

    Well done! This is a website that provides historical accuracy of baseball statistics. Keep politics out of it.

  47. Barry Says:

    Suspended for 50 games? Just add the appropriate number of phantom plate appearances to his total and see what that does to his BA.

  48. Jason Says:


    You keep saying you're sticking up for "the rules," but it's self-deception. MLB defines itself and says that the rule in 2012 is that suspended players with less than 502 PA are ineligible. This is largely identical to the Taffy Wright situation in 1938, where 100 G was the standard for qualification but MLB decided they would not recognize him for other reasons even though Wright did lead under that narrow standard.

  49. Craig Says:

    Keep Melky's batting average as is, just like everyone else who's ineligible for the batting title. No astrisk is needed. Their batting averages will be higher than the batting champion's, but as they're all ineligible, none of them is the batting champion. Everything else is irrelevant.

  50. Slim and Slam Says:

    Can I invoke the Best Actor Academy Awards for 1970 and 1972? In both of those years, the winner (voted the winner under the Academy's rules) refused the award.

    When you look up who won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1970, most sites say "George C. Scott (refused)".

    Mightn't this also be the way to look at the NL batting title? A player earned an award under the rules as the rules were defined during his achievement (see also: Tony Gwynn, 1996), and then refused the honor.

    If, years down the road, you look at the list of batting champions and you see "2012, NL: Melky Cabrera (refused)", it will trigger memories. Looking at the list and seeing "2012, NL: Buster Posey" will probably trigger nothing, except among Giants fans.

  51. Slim and Slam Says:

    Jason at #48:

    The creation of arbitrary ad hoc rules is sometimes a necessary thing (for example, instantly creating a suspended-game rule at the end of the 2008 World Series), but it is rarely a good thing.

    And, I would argue, it is never a good thing unless it's also necessary. Which, as it pertains to the 2012 NL batting championship, it is not.

  52. Mark Hogan Says:

    There really isn't anyway around it. Melkey Cabrera lead the NL in hitting. As unpleasant as this is for reasons other than statistics thats the way it goes.

    So just to throw out something to muddy up the waters a little bit. How can a hitter win either leagues batting title with statistics accumulated in interleague play?

    Mark McGwire lead the majors in home runs in 1997 with 58. Yet he has no home run title to show for it. Should hits made by a NL hitter against AL pitchers count towards a NL batting title.

  53. Trent mccotter Says:

    It is incorrect to say that Melky has won the title under the rules. Anyone who says that doesn't know what actually happened here.

    The rules have been changed for this year, such that anyone who tests positive for PEDs can't take advantage of the phantom AB rule.

    The only way that Melky could have won is to invoke the phantom AB rule, which is completely defined by MLB. So if we call Melky the winner, it means we follow one MLB rule and specifically ignore the new clause excluding PED players from invoking the phantom AB rule.

    I think it's silly to blindly follow one MLB rule contrivance but then completely ignore another one.

    The title winner is not the guy with the highest's the guy with the highest avg who qualifies under the rules. And Cabrera doesn't qualify under the rules because of the recent rule change.

  54. Mark Says:

    I have to agree with #44. Changing a rule in the middle of the game smells as much as taking PEDS. Though he didn't state it that way. If you want to talk "integrity of the game violations (gambling)", perhaps Hal Chase needs to be stripped of his 1916 batting title.

  55. M. Scott Eiland Says:

    Cabrera agreed to it--the union agreed to it. The rule was originally designed to keep an injured player from getting screwed, not let someone be rewarded for bad behavior by protecting his level of performance at a level that would have been difficult to sustain via suspension (personally, I'd favor not allowing the extra at bats to someone who intentionally shot himself in the foot with 501 PA to lock in a high BA, too--that would also be self-serving bad behavior). I thought the SN attempt to override the 1910 AL batting title decision smacked of institutional arrogance, and a similar act by this site to do the same would do so also. The batting champion is the player with the highest batting average who is also in compliance with the other rules for qualification. By agreement of MLB, the players union, and Melky Cabrera himself, that ain't him. Game Over.

  56. M. Scott Eiland Says:

    #47 You're onto something, Dave. It might be a generally useful rule for reining in the Milton Bradleys of the world, along with the dopers: "A player who is suspended for one or more games shall have 3 "phantom" hitless at bats added to his totals for each game suspended for, for the purpose of determining their effective BA, OBP, & SLG for purposes of determining league leadership standings. No player shall *become* eligible for the batting, on base, or slugging titles based on these phantom at bats--this rule shall supercede any rules regarding players without sufficient plate appearances to qualify for the league batting title and other rate statistics for purposes of players who have been suspended during the regular season."

  57. M. Scott Eiland Says:

    Ooops, my bad--Barry gets the hat tip for the idea in #47.

  58. Craig Says:

    "#57 There really isn't anyway around it. Melky Cabrera lead the NL in hitting."
    We don't know this yet. Some AAA player can come up and go 1-for-1. But like Melky, that player won't be the batting champion and shouldn't be listed as such.

  59. A Different Craig Says:

    Focusing on the rule rather than the performance seems wrong-headed if it goes on too long without an obvious resolution. I commend S-R for coming up with a ruling so it can move on with some integrity.

    As for the debate, is there ANYONE who, when it became apparent that Melky was having the power-year of his life, didn't wonder how Melky could have that season without much of a hint of from prior seasons?

  60. Lee Panas Says:

    Craig, Cabrera's power did not increase that much. His batting average is what increased by a lot which can happen in a given year. I'm never surprised to learn that a player has taken PEDs, but I didn't think Cabrera's emergence at ages 26-27 was totally shocking.

  61. Craig Says:

    It is fine to have an opinion on whether Melky should be NL batting champion. I can see both sides. But in declaring him to be champion, S-R is putting their ego above the truth. It would be like compiling football records and showing the Packers beating the Seahawks on Sept 24. It didn't happen that way.

  62. Lee Panas Says:

    I think this is not the big deal some are making it out to be. Everybody can decide for themselves who the batting champion should be. I don't look to S-R to make official decisions on titles. All I want from them is the data.

  63. Barry Says:

    As Craig suggests, there ARE rules to this besides mere batting average. One has to have a minimum number of plate appearances - 502 on a 162 game season. So, the batting title is not merely a mathematical calculation, it is a title bestowed upon a particular batter that meets the criteria.
    I have no problem with the criteria specifying the exclusion of phantom plate appearances to those suspended (as opposed to including them to the injured).
    So while Melky Cabrera may have the highest batting average he will not have won the batting TITLE, because he failed to meet the criteria to do so (regardless of when MLB made that rule - which rule we can expect will hold into the future as well).

  64. Mike Says:

    I'n not sure what's being said here. Is B-R saying that after the season is over they will still show Melky as the BA leader, and his batting average will be black inked, and not Buster Posey, the likely winner of the batting title?

    If so, this is an incorrect decision. It's not uncommon at all for players to have higher batting averages than the league champion, but fail to qualify because of a specific rule or decision by MLB. Joey Votto this year will most likely have a higher BA than the likely winner Buster Posey. Votto will not win because of a MLB-created decision that stipulates the specific qualifications necessary to be the recognized batting champion by MLB, but his BA of.342 will still be higher than Buster Posey's. Melky Cabrera will also not win because of a MLB-created decision, but his BA of .346 will still be higher than Buster Posey's.

    I didn't particuarly like the recent decision by MLB, although I can live with it. I also didn't like the decision to add non-existent PAs so that a player can qualify for the batting title. I lived with that, too. Both can be questioned, but it almost sounds as if B-R has decided to accept one decision and not another, and if so, then it's fair for fans to wonder what B-R'd agenda is since it's reporting on the statistics of MLB.

  65. Barry Says:

    Why woulld B-R have an agenda? Can't it just be its considered judgment to handle it one way or the other?

  66. Michael Says:

    MLB has elected to discount what Melky did on the field due to his misconduct and so should BR. The true facts this Season are that Melky Cabrera did not win the Batting Title due to MLB's decision to make him ineligible and at his own insistence. BR should acknowledge the facts so that their accounting represents the reality of the situation.

  67. Nando Tater Says:

    According to the rules of MLB, as they stand today, Melky is not entitled to have the hitless ABs added at the end of the 2012 season. Anyone who think Melky's 2012 batting average should bear black ink because "that's what the rule says" is deluding themselves. Some will argue that

    1) the rule is reactive, inconsistent, unfair or just plain dumb. (It's still the rule.)

    2) MLB can't just change the rule whenever the see fit. (They can, and have.)

    3) this is a retroactive rule that sets a dangerous precedent. (Melky cannot be "stripped" of a title he hasn't won yet--the phantom ABs would not have been added until after all regular season games were completed.)

    If B-R awards Melky black ink for this stat or lists him among leaders in the category, make no mistake--it will be for political reasons, not for the sake of historical or mathematical accuracy. It will be a matter of stepping outside the role of chroniclers of the game and its ever-changing rules by saying "Screw the rules--we don't agree with them or the way in which they are implemented. We'll decide what's best for baseball."

    Taffy Wright's 1938 season has been mentioned above as a precedent. This is from B-R's own FAQ on rate stat qualification:

    "From 1920-1944, a player must have appeared in 100 games, unless it is the 1938 AL. That year Jimmie Foxx (.349 in 149 games) was awarded the batting title over Taffy Wright (.350 in 100 games) for that season I used 101 games as the cutoff. Fair? Probably not."

    B-R gives Wright's .350 average italics, but no black (or gray) ink. Melky's situation should not be handled any differently...

  68. Barry Says:

    I think MLB should go back in history and use the 3.1 plate appearance rule and change the batting titleists as necessary.

    My second thought is that whatever Melky thinks is not relevant. He doesn't make the rules. His wanting to forfeit the batting title does not buttress the argument against giving him the phantom plate appearances. The argument doesn't need his opinion in order to be upheld.

  69. Mark Says:

    I suppose if your looking for consistancey baseball isn't necessarily the place to go. #68 has an interesting idea regarding going back in baseball history and applying the 3.1 ab rule. If I'm not mistaken didn't the commisioner of baseball in 1988 redefine the rule on what constitutes a no-hitter and erased the names from the list that didn't meet the new criteria?

  70. Nathan Says:

    Cabrera BARELY even qualifies for the batting title under the 3.1 Plate Appearances rule. After today's Giants game, their 162nd, he will have 3.092 per game. Not entirely sure how that rounds up or down, depending on how precise MLB has been throughout the years, but I don't think it's right to list a steroid user who only played 2/3 of a season, and who hasn't played in two months, nor will he again this year, including postseason, and technically will never have a perfect 3.100 plate appearances per team game, as the batting champion. It all comes down to how you want to round that plate appearance number up or down, and the fact that his season has been tarnished by steroids coupled with the fact that the only way he even could qualify for the title is by rounding up and just handing him that extra .008 of a plate appearance is enough for me to say that we should just dismiss his average for the season. He's a bum for using steroids and walks such an incredibly fine line for even qualifying for PA after tonight's game, so why bother even giving him that credit?

  71. ctorg Says:

    The rule is that if you are shy of 502 PA but you would still lead if all your PA between your actual number and 502 (which would be 1 for Melky) resulted in an out, you lead.

    If a guy managed to go 300-for-300 and had no other PA (a little unlikely, but go with it) and finished the season that way, he'd still win the batting title because 300/502=.598 (as long as no one else topped .598).

    I am vehemently against the idea that the batting title should be determined politically or by any other means than that stated in the rule. If a guy was cheating, so be it. What happened on the field in official games counts as official stats, and if the stats are official, everything that flows from that should be official. Cheaters have won so many things throughout baseball history. It makes no sense to pick and choose which cheaters we're going to let keep their awards.

  72. Barry Says:

    But Ctorg - It's already artificial in that it requires an arbitrarily set 3.1 plate appearances (admittedly set at 3.1 to approximate 500 plate appearances for a 162 game season). So, someone this year could have hit .400 in say, 500 plate appearances and not win the batting title unless we add the other artificiality of phantom plate appearances. So, given all the artifice, why NOT a rule stipulating that suspended players receive no phantom at bats?

  73. Jon L. Says:

    I guess because you could have someone who bats .400 in 500 PA's losing the battle title to someone who gets the same number of hits in more official at-bats, and who has thus demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that they were not as good at turning at-bats into hits.

  74. ctorg Says:


    The thing for me is that if there's going to be a rule, I feel that it should be a statistical rule, and it shouldn't be about anything off the field. The numbers should be about what happens on the field without regard to anything else. If the stats were accumulated in a game that is official, the stats should then be official, and any declaration of statistical leadership should be derived purely from the stats. And it should be uniformly applied (even if it's arbitrary).

    For what it's worth, I also believe that when considering batting champions of the past, we should apply modern qualifications, so that even if someone was considered the leader in the past, if the new qualifications make someone else the leader, the new person should be considered the leader. This was done with no-hitters - as I think someone else mentioned, some guys lost no-hitters when they changed it. I don't agree with using different sets of qualifications for different eras.

  75. Craig Says:

    #74 Ctorg: "...even if someone was considered the leader in the past, if the new qualifications make someone else the leader, the new person should be considered the leader."

    I agree--it's Buster Posey that's champion, not Melky.

  76. ctorg Says:

    #75 Craig: "I agree--it's Buster Posey that's champion, not Melky."

    That's the opposite of what my post actually said, though.

  77. trent mccotter Says:

    He just used your own logic against you. You said 'use the newest rule and completely ignore the past rules'..and the newest rule says that posey wins.

    Its pointing out that its odd to claim that recognizing posey is 'revisionist' but then also claim that we shouldrewrite previous winners according to our own whim.

  78. ctorg Says:

    #77 Trent Mccotter:

    I didn't say anything about rewriting rules according to whim. I said that statistical recognition should be based on statistical measures, that what happens in official games should count as official. Now, if we were to get rid of the part of the rule about adding hitless ABs to a players PA total to reach 3.1 per game, we should get rid of it completely, so that Joey Votto is also no longer 10th in the league in batting (as an example). We could then apply that to past years as well.

    But the main thrust of my argument is has nothing to do with revisionism. It's that the politics of the game should have no bearing on statistical leaderboards. What happens on the field should count if the game counts, regardless of the palatability of it.

  79. trent mccotter Says:

    I said you wanted to rewrite previous winners--not rules--according to whims. If you're changing who won for many previous yrs, regardless of the rules then, you're deciding that our current interpretation is superior and must be imposed on previous yrs. That works until someone in the future decides to change it again, which is exactly what happened with melky.

  80. ctorg Says:

    #79 Trent Mccotter:

    But it still goes completely against my central point, which is that the winners should be determined statistically. They didn't change the statistical qualifications for having the highest average. They decided for political reasons that Melky couldn't get it. The crux of my argument is that the politics of the game should not come into play.

    Also, I am not saying that current qualifications are superior or inferior. That's a different argument. My argument is for consistency across time, so that saying someone has the highest average in 1900 and someone who has it in 2000 do so according to the same criteria. That is why I brought up Joey Votto.

  81. trent mccotter Says:

    I see your points. But no matter what "statistical" definition we end up using, it would necessarily entail deciding who deserves to have a chance to win. That's why we don't give the award to the guy who goes 1-for-1....he didn't "deserve" it.

    Why isn't the fact that Cabrera tested positive for PEDs something that affects what happened on-field? It's not quite like a pure PA requirement (like we had in 2011), but it's not quite like saying that we're refusing to give a batting title because the winner got a speeding ticket.

  82. trent mccotter Says:

    Also, you said "They didn't change the statistical qualifications for having the highest average. They decided for political reasons that Melky couldn't get it."

    ...but what they did was both. They did change the statistical qualifications. Rule 10.22(a).

    The PED test isn't completely unrelated to the phantom-AB rule. George Brett knows how much easier it is to qualify for the title when you have fewer PAs.

    Cabrera would get two benefits: the increased performance of any drugs, plus the smaller sample size. MLB decided to strip both benefits.

  83. Mark Says:

    #81. The problem is not with having a rule excluding someone for usings peds. Its the fact that it was retroactive. The rule SHOULD apply. In 2013.

    No one addressed my previous point. Should hits accumulated in mixed AL/NL games count for the batting title. How can you win the batting title of a specific league with hits from the other league. Is there a rule?

  84. trent mccotter Says:

    I think the rule only applies at the end of the season when it comes time to calculate the numbers. The rule was changed before the season ended.

    And even assuming that it DOES apply game-by-game, Cabrera never needed the phantom-AB rule until the last game of the season, since he had enough PAs to qualify up until game 162 finished. The rule was changed before he would've needed to use the phantom-AB rule.

    So, either way, the rule was changed before he would've needed to use it.

  85. RobM Says:

    @83, Mark, that line of thinking can be applied to anything related to interleague games. Should a team win or lose its division based on games played against teams in another league? The teams played are not even consistent. For example, the Oakland A's and the Texas Rangers didn't play the exact same teams in interleague play, yet those games counted toward the A's winning their division and the Rangers falling a game short. The answer, though, is yes. They should count and they do count. It's MLB's game and their rules.

    Regarding the batting title, it's the same. MLB can create any rule or make any decision that it wants. It's up to B-R to properly report those statistics based on those rules and decisions. They did so with Taffy Wright; they should do so with Melky Cabrera.

  86. RobM Says:

    BTW At least as of this note, Baseball Reference appears to be recognizing Buster Posey as the winner of the batting title. Buster is black inked, while Melky is not. Did BR change its position, or is it still under consideration?

  87. Barry Says:

    CTorg - It's not just about what happens on the field - phantom plate appearances by definition do not happen on the field.

  88. ctorg Says:

    #82 Trent Mccotter:

    They did not change the statistical qualifications. They changed the political qualifications, which I consider to be an invalid way of handling the situation. I have no major issue with retroactivity, really, although I'm not much of a fan in this case because it's reactive.

    The way I see it is this: MLB has within its power the ability to determine what happened on the field of play and all the rules related to that, from the scoring of plays to the winners of games. These items are reported by them as statistical facts.

    Once MLB has declared games to be official (which makes stats generated within them official), I contend that those stats should be the sole source of determining leaderboards. Two can't be less than one just because MLB says so. Rules for statistical qualification should be applied evenly and should only consider the stats themselves and not the people who generated them as human beings.

    Now, I do think it is within MLB's right to declare games in which Melky played to be null, but obviously that would cause a mess.

    I understand why they're doing what they're doing. I understand not wanting to reward someone who cheated, and I do think that if there were an actual award for "batting title," the awarder would be allowed to make up the rules for that award. I don't like that the batting average leader was cheating.

    However, if we are trying to say which player had the highest batting average based on the statistical rule of 3.1 PA/Game with added AB for PA less than 502, Melky has the highest batting average. I say that if they want to get rid of the part about adding AB (which is not a good idea, I think, but that's another argument), it needs to be applied to everyone, not just Melky.

    Striking something from the record because it is undesirable is a way of sugarcoating history. MLB has had a history of making believe things didn't happen the way they did. I think the history needs to be recorded, warts and all.

  89. Barry Says:

    CTorg - MLB is not sugarcoating this. It has suspended Melky for 50 games and ruled that he is not eligible for the batting title - both measures because he's been using banned steroid drugs. That it was reactive is unfortunate - but common in baseball.

    Suppose Melky had some new-fangled homing device in his bat that assured his bat would travel on a trajectory to always make contact with the incoming pitch. Could we actually view his stats as legitimate? Would we say, 'well, yes - surely he's cheated, but the stats speak for themselves, no reason to judge the human swinging that altered bat"? Perhaps this sounds like an absurd happenstance (perhaps not) - but it's to make a point that you can't always separate the stats from the person.

    On another note, it's a shame that Melky is the Cabrera story in a year when Miggy wins the Triple Crown.

  90. ctorg Says:


    I do understand your view and others' - and I realize I'm probably coming across as way more passionately statheaded (is that a word?) about this than I really am - but to me, as long as MLB has determined that the results of a play are official, stats generated from it are official.

    In other words, the control MLB should be able to exert over it is determining whether the games in which they occurred are official or not. The stats themselves are descriptors of events in official games. If MLB deems all that Melky did to count toward the outcome of games - which it has - then those stats should be counted like any other stats. MLB has not changed the outcome of his plate appearances in any way. It hasn't taken anything off his record. It has simply declared him invisible, which I think is overstepping their ability to do.

    If they want his average not to count on a leaderboard, I think they should either have to change the statistical qualifications for it, or they have to declare all outcomes of his plate appearances to be unofficial, thus depriving the Giants of any runs generated by him (or perhaps making all games in which he appeared unofficial). I don't think either of those is realistic or practical, but I think you can't change what happened, regardless of how it was achieved.

    It really stinks that the guy who had the best average in the NL this year got it by cheating, but it doesn't mean he didn't have the best average. Just as Barry Bonds really did hit 73 homers (yes, I know, there's no hard evidence he did that by juicing, but, well, you know...), Melky really did have the best average in games that were allowed to count, using the statistical measures in place.

  91. Craig Says:

    Ctorg #90: "...statheaded (is that a word?)"

    No, but 'fatheaded' is.

    Ctorg #90: "If [MLB] wants [Melky's] average not to count on a leaderboard, I think they should...have to change the statistical qualifications for it..."

    Which is what they did.

  92. ctorg Says:


    As I keep saying: no they did not. They changed the non-statistical qualifications for it.

    But thanks for the insult.

  93. Craig Says:

    Ctorg #92: "[MLB] changed the non-statistical qualifications for it."

    Since when is AB "non-statistical"?

  94. Barry Says:

    I don't think Ctorg was referring to ABs.

  95. ctorg Says:


    They did not change the statistical rule regarding AB. The stipulation they added was that the AB rule “shall not be applicable for the 2012 season for any player who failed to obtain 502 plate appearances if such player served a drug suspension for violating the Joint Drug Program.”

    This is a change regarding whether the player was suspended. The whole point I've been stating repeatedly is that whether a player was suspended or not is not a statistical basis for a change. It is a change being selectively applied based on non-statistical facts.

    That is what I am arguing against, apparently badly because I'm not getting through.

  96. Barry Says:

    I get it. Not sure I agree on what MLB procedure should be - but it is a valid approach.