The Batting Title is Andrew McCutchen’s to Lose

Andrew McCutchen is currently in the lead for the batting title in the National League, and his .359 average leads the majors. The biggest threat to his league leading average this year has been Melky Cabrera, who currently has a .346 average. But today it was announced by Major League Baseball that Cabrera was suspended 50 games after testing positive for testosterone.

The San Francisco Giants only have 45 games remaining, which means this suspension will end Cabrera’s season, and will lock in his batting average. A player needs 502 plate appearances in a season to qualify for the batting title. Cabrera only has 501. If a player has less than 502 plate appearances, he can still qualify. The difference between his plate appearances and 502 is made up with hitless at-bats. In this case, Cabrera would get an extra hitless at-bat added to his total, bringing him up from 501 to 502 plate appearances. That wouldn’t do much to his batting average, dropping it from .34641 to .34565.

Behind Cabrera is Joey Votto, who has a .342 average. But Votto might be out until early September, which could put him below the necessary plate appearances needed to qualify. And he will probably have more hitless at-bats than Cabrera in order to get him to 502, which will hurt his average more.

After that, Buster Posey is the next competitor with a .331 average, which is a long way from McCutchen. The same goes for David Wright, who has a .323 average behind Posey.

Matt Kemp currently has a .359 average, but also has 277 plate appearances. It’s very unlikely that he’ll get 225 plate appearances over the final month and a half, which will hurt his chances in the race.

That makes the batting title McCutchen’s to lose. He basically has to beat out Cabrera’s .34565 average. So far this year, McCutchen has averaged 3.76 at-bats per game. The Pirates have 46 games remaining on the schedule. If we assume McCutchen plays every game, and continues his pace of 3.76 at-bats per game, he would end up with 173 at-bats from now through the end of the season. In order to beat Cabrera’s average, McCutchen would need a .318 average during the remainder of the year, which would be 55 hits in 173 at-bats.

It would be hard to see Kemp or Votto getting enough plate appearances to qualify. And if they got close, it would be hard to see them staying above the Melky Cabrera line after being penalized with hitless at-bats. It would also be hard to see Posey or Wright making a jump ahead of Cabrera.

The batting title will be Andrew McCutchen’s to lose. Melky Cabrera’s season is over, and his average is locked in. There are no real challengers to McCutchen or Cabrera, which means McCutchen just needs to worry about staying ahead of Cabrera to win.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Dennis Thomas

    A performance enhancing suspension should have more consequences. Especially to the team, his cheating has helped his team and caused an unfair advantage. This 50 game suspension is not enough. What would stop a team from pressuring young players to juice. The team has no penalty, just the player. I feel that some of the teams wins that he was responsible for should be retracted. Specifically 11% being that he is 1 of 9 players. This would cause the teams to police themselves and nix this problem in the bud.

  • PiratesFan

    Cutch for MVP!