Thanks to some timely hitting and a timely suspension to teammate Melky Cabrera, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey has won the National League batting crown with a final average of .336 after going 0-for-2 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
But don't think for a second that Posey, who finished .01 points below Cabrera in batting average, doesn't deserve it.
The story, by now, is famous. Cabrera, who was hitting a robust .346 through 113 games, got suspended for a positive test for testosterone. He subsequently took his name out of the batting-title hat (from the Associated Press, via ESPN):
Melky Cabrera lost the right to play baseball by failing a drug test and now he has given up his chance to win the National League batting title.
Cabrera was disqualified from the NL batting honor at his own request when Major League Baseball and the players' association agreed Friday to a one-season-only change in the rule governing the individual batting, slugging and on-base percentage champions.
And thus the endless debates began.
Just for funsies, let's take a look at how the teammates' numbers stack up against each other.
Posey appeared in over 35 more games and came to the plate over 100 more times than Cabrera, so these numbers are obviously going to be slightly skewed.
Nonetheless, it's not hard to see that the catcher was the more threatening hitter. Cabrera finished the season with a .346 average, .390 on-base percentage and .516 slugging percentage while Posey ended the year at .336/.408/.549.
Cabrera came out in top in triples (10-1) and runs scored (84-78), but Posey severely out-did him in doubles (39-25), home runs (24-11) and RBI (103-60). While the games-played discrepancy had something to do with those numbers, it's worth noting that Posey, according to FanGraphs, had a higher walk percentage, more home runs per fly ball and hit more line drives.
Although Cabrera had a few wins in this category, the advantage clearly goes to Posey.
The Nerdy Categories
For a definition of all the following stats, check out FanGraphs. There is a glossary in the upper right-hand corner.
Let's just get this out of the way now. Advantage: Posey.
The young catcher's OPS (.957) knocks Cabrera's out of the park (.906). So does his ISO (.214 to .170). So does his wRC (114 to 86). So does his wRAA (43.0 to 29.0). So does his wOBA (.406 to .387). So does his wRC+ (161 to 148). So does his OPS+ (171 to 158).
So does whatever other stat you want to make up. Whether a stat sets out to credit more plate appearances, the better power hitter or the better average hitter, the advantage goes to Gerald Dempsey Posey.
I'm sure by now you're probably wondering, what is this point of all this?
The point is to explain that no matter which way you look at it, Buster Posey was the better hitter than Melky Cabrera this season and unequivocally deserves the batting title.
Yes, Cabrera ended the season with a higher batting average, but without the suspension, he would have had to hold that incredibly high number for another month and a half.
That wouldn't have been easy.
If Cabrera didn't beat out Posey in all the stats that took games played out of the equation, there's a good chance his average, just like every other number, would have fallen below Posey's as the season wore on.
And if all of that isn't enough to convince you that the 25-year-old is the rightful winner, let Cabrera do the convincing for you (via ESPN):
"To be plain, I personally have no wish to win an award that would widely be seen as tainted, and I believe that it would be far better for the remaining contenders to compete for that distinction," Cabrera wrote. "So too, the removal of my name from consideration will permit me to focus on my goal of working hard upon my return to baseball so that I may be able to win that distinction in a season played in full compliance with league rules. To be plain, I plan to work hard to vindicate myself in that very manner."
Case closed. Despite the difference in batting averages, Buster Posey was the best hitter for average on this team and best hitter for average in the National League.