Despite not playing a game since Aug. 15 because of his suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, Cabrera still holds the highest batting average in the NL.

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The National League batting race has a fascinating dynamic.

The leader through Friday’s games is Melky Cabrera of the Giants at .346. Yes, the same Melky Cabrera who hasn’t played since Aug. 15, when he was suspended 50 games for using performance-enhancing drugs.

Cabrera is done for the year, sidelined in disgrace, but his batting average still stands as the mark to beat.

Cabrera had 501 plate appearances at the time of his suspension, one fewer than required for the batting title.

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But the rules allow a player to still win the title if you convert the missing plate appearances into outs, and his average is still the highest. In other words, if you add one at-bat to Cabrera’s total to reach the necessary 502, his batting average doesn’t change.

Enter Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, who is best positioned to surpass Cabrera. McCutchen is hitting .343, but actually has to deal with the ebbs and flows of everyday play. McCutchen was hitting .359 on Aug. 15, when Cabrera was booted, but has hit .256 in 19 games since.

“I just worry about what I need to do every day to help this team win,” McCutchen told reporters recently. “I know the situation with Melky, but it really has no impact on me because we’re trying to get to the playoffs. That means more to me than any personal goals.”

I’m sure Bud Selig, among others, is rooting for McCutchen to surpass Cabrera.

Talking his way out

of the situation

Cleveland closer Chris Perez is sure acting like a guy who wants to get himself traded.

Earlier this year, he ripped Indians fans for not coming to games while the team was in first place. And now that they’ve collapsed, Perez this week ripped Indians ownership and general manager Chris Antonetti.

Asked by John Paul Morosi of Fox Sports what the difference between the Indians and division rival Detroit is, Perez replied: “Different owners. It comes down to that. They (the Tigers) are spending money. He (owner Mike Ilitch) wants to win. Even when the economy was down, he spent money. He’s got a team to show for it. You get what you pay for in baseball. Sometimes you don’t. But most of the time you do.”

The Indians have wound up trading many of their stars, and haven’t gotten much return for the likes of CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez.

“You can’t miss,” said Perez of the Indians’ failed trades. “You have to be right. That’s why I say it’s not just ownership. They don’t make the trades. It’s the GMs. It goes hand-in-hand. The GMs can only spend the money the owners give them, but they pick who they spend it on or who they don’t. They pick. The owners don’t pick.

“Josh Willingham would look great in this (the Indians’) lineup. They (Indians ownership) didn’t want to (pony) up for that last year. … That’s the decision they make, and this is the bed we’re laying in.”

Antonetti issued a statement through Cleveland’s public relations department on Wednesday:

“While we work to understand various perspectives, we strongly disagree with Chris’ comments. Nonetheless, we are not satisfied with our recent results and our entire organization remains committed to fielding winning teams, and that is the standard by which we will continue to operate.”

In a related development, I don’t expect Perez — an All-Star the past two seasons — to be back with the Indians next year.


• Royals fans are clamoring for Kansas City to call up Class AAA outfielder Wil Myers, who this week was named Minor League Player of the Year by both Baseball America and USA Today.

The Royals, however, don’t want to use a 40-man roster spot on Myers, possibly causing them to lose a prospect in the Rule 5 Draft in December. But don’t be surprised if Myers, who hit .314 with 37 homers and 109 RBI in the minors, earns a starting job next season.

• Sometimes, it takes a while to judge stretch-drive trades. The Pirates’ acquisition of Wandy Rodriguez looked like a bust when he went 0-3 with a 5.47 earned-run average in his first four starts after Pittsburgh picked him up from Houston on July 24. But Rodriguez is 3-1 with a 1.25 ERA in his last four games after hurling seven shutout innings Tuesday.

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