Sunday, October 01, 2006

Go Freddy go

They won a game yeah whatever. Dejan Kovacevic asks:

Despite the standing, chanting support of 35,514 with each of his four at-bats, [Freddy] went hitless -- all against Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo -- to drop his National League-leading average to .343. That left him three points ahead of the Florida Marlins' Miguel Cabrera, who stayed at .340 by going 1 for 4 in Miami.

What it means: Sanchez remains in control, but not by much.

If, for example, he were to go 0 for 4 in the season finale today, his average would drop to .340. Cabrera probably could beat him, then, by getting two hits.

Sounds scary. But consider this, too: If Sanchez simply sat out, Cabrera would need to have a monster day -- 4 for 4, or 4 for 5 -- to pass him.

How will manager Jim Tracy handle it?

How would you handle it? I would start him and consider benching him if (1) he looked lost at the plate (i.e., if I thought someone else on the bench could do a better job) and (2) he would clinch the batting title with a shower. That said, if Freddy can't handle tomorrow with grace and concentration and ability, what good could he be in, say, a playoff game?

In 1991, Terry Pendleton took the final day of the season off with a .319 batting average. Hal Morris would have to go 4-for-4 to finish at .320. Morris led off for the first time all season and got three hits in his first three at-bats. He lined out in the last at-bat.

Pendleton was excused from playing because the Braves had clinched the division title the night before.

That's a good excuse. No one should be asked to further claim a batting title by playing an exhibition game while still drunk or hung over from a division-clinching party.

Tracy has no such excuse. And if Freddy sits tomorrow, Cabrera will get three hits in his first three at-bats. You know it, I know it, maybe Jim Tracy knows it. Honors are for the honorable. Pendleton had an honorable excuse, and you look at what happened to him. The Pirates did not clinch the division tonight. Tomorrow's just another day. Freddy should go to sleep and dream of singles and doubles jumping the middle-infielder's glove.

One last thing about Pendleton's batting title. It may have played a role in his edging out some Pirate for the 1991 MVP award.

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