Can McCutchen keep Cabrera from batting title? –

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen surged back into the lead in the National League batting race with a 4-for-4 game Tuesday. Somewhere in Major League Baseball’s offices, a few folks had to be smiling.

McCutchen’s fortunes figure to impact their mood for the rest of the season.

Batting .347 going into Wednesday’s games, McCutchen is baseball’s best hope for avoiding the embarrassment of crowning a batting champion who is suspended for doping.

San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera was batting .346 when his season ended Aug. 15 with a 50-game ban after he tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone.

His San Francisco teammate, Buster Posey, ranks third in the race at .326, putting the onus on McCutchen, who has other concerns.

“I know the situation with Melky, but it really has no impact on me because we’re trying to get to the playoffs,” McCutchen said. “Sure, I’d like to win the batting title, but it’s the least of my priorities right now.”

It might not rank as a high priority, but clearly MLB officials would prefer not to deal with the inevitable questions that would pop up with a busted player earning such a distinction.

Would baseball consider stripping Cabrera of the title?

Similar questions emerged when National League MVP Ryan Braun tested positive for testosterone in October, although he later won an appeal on a chain-of-custody issue.

In response to the Cabrera queries, MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said via e-mail, “It is not MLB’s practice once a game is considered official to retroactively erase an individual’s statistics.”

Cabrera finished the season with 501 plate appearances, one short of the minimum required for the batting title. In such situations, however, rule 10.22 calls for hitless at-bats to be added to a player’s record until he meets the plate-appearance threshold.

If still leading in the batting race, the player would be declared the winner.

Cabrera’s average would drop from .3464 to .3456.

The rule has only come into play once,…

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