It’s safe to say that no race for a batting title has ever had so many fans rooting for one player over the other.
Every man a McCutchen fan, right?
That’s Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who is hitting .341 this season. He is in second place in the National League and trails the league leader, who is batting .346.
That would be the Giants’ Melky Cabrera.
Cabrera, of course, is done for the season as he serves a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Cabrera is one plate appearance shy of the minimum 502 needed to qualify for the title. However, baseball rules allow for an out to be added for every appearance a player is short of qualifying.
That one extra out will keep Cabrera, the former Royal, locked in at .346.
Naturally, McCutchen has a lot of people rooting for him to beat out Cabrera.
"I don't look at the stuff," McCutchen told reporters in Pittsburgh. "The only time it enters my mind is if someone asks me about it the and only people who ask me about it are in the media."
The Giants’ Buster Posey is in third place at .327, so it looks like a two-man race from here on out, even if one of those guys won’t see his numbers move.
"I just worry about what I need to do every day to help this team win," McCutchen said. "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. Sure, I'd like to win the batting title but it's the least of my priorities right now. If I play well enough to help the team win then the other stuff will take care of itself."
Right now, the playoffs don’t look too good for the Pirates, which brings us to this week’s rankings:
1 Nationals (Last week: 1): Strasburg has the fourth-best ERA in the Nationals’ rotation, but that’s not why the team is sitting him.
2 Rangers (2): Ryan Dempster has won all of his last three starts with a 2.00 ERA (against Cleveland, the Royals and Minnesota).
3 Reds (3): Dusty Baker’s got the horses to win his first World Series
4 Braves (5): Dan Uggla had multihit games on Friday and Saturday; before that he hadn’t had one since Aug. 8.
5 Giants (4): They will play only one team (the Dodgers for six games) that currently has a winning record from here on out.
6 Yankees (6): Yanks start a series with the Red Sox; maybe Boston can give them tips on how to deal with blowing a huge lead and missing the playoffs.
7 A's (7): They’ve won 12 of 15, but those three losses to the Angels really hurt.
8 Orioles (10): Baltimore’s run differential is improving; it’s only -29.
9 Rays (9): Who knew the AL East’s big September showdown starting Tuesday would be Rays-Orioles?
10 Angels (14): Question of the year: How did Mike Trout not making the opening-day roster?
11 White Sox (11): Brett Myers has a 32.40 ERA against the Royals
12 Tigers (8): In Rick Porcello’s last four starts, Detroit hasn’t scored a run for him while he’s been in the game.
13 Cardinals (12): Chris Carpenter’s return would be a serious boost for a team that needs one.
14 Dodgers (13): Bad sign in that epic trade with Boston: Nick Punto is batting just .167 as a Dodger.
15 Pirates (15): Yeah, it’s football season.
16 Phillies (16): 32-year-old rookie catcher Erik Kratz had nine homers in first 120 plate appearances.
17 Diamondbacks (17): They seem to be stuck right around the .500 mark.
18 Brewers (19): It’s just impressive that they’re in the wild-card race at this point.
19 Mariners (18): Seattle has a shot at finishing .500.
20 Padres (25): Chase Headley’s 19 homers and 60 RBIs since the All-Star break are the most in the majors.
21 Mets (21): Manager Terry Collins says the team will try something new in the Mets’ pregame routine. Could it be that psychiatrist from The Natural? “Losing is a disease...”
22 Royals (22): If the Tigers win the division, they should give the Royals a playoff share.
23 Blue Jays (23): Omar Vizquel’s 2,870 career hits are just three behind some guy named Ruth.
24 Red Sox (20): Joe Maddon may or may not be late to a game next year, but at least he’ll still be managing in the majors. As for Bobby Valentine ...
25 Marlins (24): Giancarlo Stanton has 12 homers in his last 23 games.
26 Twins (26): The Twins have scored 11 or more runs in six games started by Scott Diamond.
27 Cubs (27): Huge cheers at Wrigley this weekend Bruce Springsteen was in concert.
28 Indians (29): Somehow, Cleveland is 18-9 in one-run games this season.
29 Rockies (28): In a Sunday sweep at the hands of the Phillies, the Rockies saw Wilin Rosario have four passed balls in the opener, then made five errors in the nightcap.
30 Astros (30): Probably can’t wait to leave the dominating NL Central for the cushy AL West. Wait, we got that backward.
| Pete Grathoff, email@example.com